Tuesday, April 14, 2015

48th CPD: Making sure the voices of Young Africans are being heard!

This week is one of the most crucial weeks in the year for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights advocates around the world. During the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development at the UN headquarters in New York, delegates from countries around the world discuss the integration of population issues in the post-2015 development agenda.  This is crucial, as it will set the agenda and priorities for programmes and interventions beyond 2015.

Simavi has brought different partners of the SRHR Alliances in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda to New York to make sure that the voices of African civil society are being heard, and the issues that are being faced by (young) people in communities in Africa are taken into account when making global commitments.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and especially the rights of young people are crucial when it comes to development and global equality. The rights of young people, women and men to fully and healthy enjoy their sexual and reproductive lives should be protected. However, sexual and reproductive rights and the rights of young people are not being recognised by every country. This makes the topic of SRHR and young people a highly debated one at the CPD in New York this week.
Just in front of the entrance to the plenary conference room, large groups of progressive civil society organisations flock to be close to the centre of the action. The first day was one of mixed feelings. Although there were some very strong statements being made on SRHR and youth by UNFPA and progressive countries, including the EU and South Africa, there were also strong voices that oppose everything we stand for.  This CPD seems to be one where ‘youth’ and ‘young people’ are the buzzwords. Mentioning of Comprehensive Sexuality Education and the sexual and reproductive rights of young people causes for a lot of debate, especially among the African Group (spearheaded by a conservative Nigeria).

Simavi and the SRHR Alliances of Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda are pushing their delegations to agree to language on CSE and SRHR for youth. During a side event on Wednesday we will emphasise the need of participation of young people on issues that are concerning them.  Based on experiences from the field, young people and representatives of CSOs will discuss Youth Friendly Services, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Child Marriage as key topics on which young people need to be meaningfully engaged. Key questions is how not to only meaningfully engage young people in programmes, but also make sure that the post-2015 global commitments take the voices of young Africans into account. As UNFPA  Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin rightly pledged: “Let this generation of young people be the first to grow up with all rights realised!’

Together with Simavi, the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the UN, and the SRHR Alliances of Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi will co-host a side event on Wednesday 15 April at 8 am in the UN Headquarters in New York. The outcome will include concrete next steps to ensure that the voices of young people are taken into account in the international CPD and Post-2015 negotiations and the future implementation of national policies and systems. For more information visit www.simavi.org/cpd

Lara van Kouterik is Senior Programme Officer SRHR at Simavi. She is attending the 48th CPD with her colleague Nienke Blauw and partners from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.