Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Young voices in an intergovernmental and intergenerational conversation

Lotte Dijkstra is Dutch Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and reflects on her first time attending the Commission on Population and development.


Waiting for my plane to depart, I have time to reflect on last week. It was an eventful week, where youth and SRHR were much debated topics. In this year’s Commission on Population and Development youth were notably present – both in delegations and in civil society. I might be biased in this respect, being young myself, but the words ‘youth’ and ‘adolescent’ also seemed to be on the lips of many less young delegates.

After weeks of brainstorming, writing and revising, I began the week with delivering a statement on behalf of the Netherlands. The nerves that had been stacking up in my stomach all day, soon disappeared when I noticed the room was paying attention. Halfway trough, at the words “I’m here (…), not despite my age, but because of my age” the room applauded, encouraging me to continue. When I finished, and the applause rose again, I felt incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to speak in front of this audience of government officials and CSO representatives.

What truly highlighted Monday though, was the UNFPA and UN DESA reception. Not so much because of the reception itself, but because so many delegates, some from the more conservative countries, came up to me to talk about my speech. This lead to many inspiring conversations about young people in the respective countries, about the issues they face and about the courageous ways they work to resolve them.

Tuesday continued with meetings with the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth and UN Women. It gives great hope to see the interest of UN agencies in youth, something I hope will be followed by governments too. Wednesday was marked by two side-events on youth, in one of which I was a panellist. The highlight of the event was the personal story told by Brenda Mbaja. The high number of attendees to these side-events, once again showed how much interest in youth there is.

The panel at the Young people in post-2015 side-event
After a Thursday with meetings at UNFPA and UNAIDS and many more conversations with enthusiastic delegates and young people committed to SRHR, Friday was time for the resolution to be adopted. After two weeks of negotiations, countries had not yet been able to agree though, especially concerning the topic of sexual and reproductive rights.  Because of this, the chair composed a chair’s text, to be adopted on Friday. Much to everyone’s surprise though, the African group objected and no resolution was adopted.

Although not adopting the final resolution at CPD is unusual, it does not mean this CPD was not fruitful. The intense debates of last week show that we all care tremendously for population issues, and that we must continue the conversation. It is a conversation that filled the air this week, and a conversation I hope to engage in much more this year. A conversation characterised by what one delegate said to me this week; “This shouldn’t be a fight of young people versus older people, or of women versus men, because it is about the rights of all of us, about a better future for everyone, a future we should work together towards.” 

5 comments:

zerry ht said...

I am feeling so great after reading your blog. You know I visited to NYC last week to attend events in NYC and so it was an eventful week for me. I enjoyed a lot there.

Tung Nguyen said...

I love this event



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