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|