We want improved sexual and reproductive health – youth

By Emma Mbekele

STRENGTHEN our sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), especially for young people in rural areas and those with disabilities. Give us access to SRH information and services, including condoms in schools, to allow us to make informed choices.

Understand our (adolescent) sexual and reproductive health issues, as our families, communities, and religious and traditional leaders, so that these needs can be addressed and your resistance to them overcome.

In national strategies on SRHR and HIV, involve us in decision-making processes and implementation. Let us be the leaders in and advocates for our own issues, as we can drive the agenda better.

Recognize and support us as you a work to achieve the groundbreaking agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

This resounding call was made by young Namibians at a youth dialogue to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ICPD and UNFPA’s 50th anniversary, attended by more than 100 youth from the nation’s 14 regions.

The young participants called for the Namibian government and its partners to continue implementing the ICPD Programme of Action, for young people in particular. They made this call in recognition of the diversity of Namibian youth, who are disproportionately affected by SRH issues

At the meeting, the African Youth and Adolescent’s Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) Namibia members committed to ensuring that young people participate in the implementation of the ICPD agenda through their newly elected network of young people.

The dialogue on ‘What’s changed and how to accelerate the promise from Cairo’ saw young people exchanging ideas on how youth could play a significant role in accelerating the ICPD promise and empower them to make their voices heard.

Nothing about youth without youth

We need to embrace young people as active partners on this journey.

AfriYAN Namibia President Klivert Mwandingi spoke of how bleak the future could be if the youth were not engaged. “Nothing about us without us! We need to be engaged and consulted on matters that affect us,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by UNFPA HIV Prevention and Family Planning Specialist Grace Hidinua.

“Young people are at the core of UNFPA's mandate, at the core of our activities. We need to embrace young people as active partners on this journey.” 

A key issue was the urgent need to attend to the ‘unfinished business’ of challenges affecting youth, including date-related violence, gender-based violence, unemployment and teenage pregnancy.

What was evident during the dialogue was that an engaged, well-informed youth are not an anomaly.

There was a clear atmosphere of contribution as the youth engaged, displaying that they are ready to step up.  However, this can only happen if they are meaningfully engaged and empowered. Not only do they want to be heard, but also understood.

The event was organized by UNFPA and its partners – Namibia’s Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MEAC) and the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service (MSYNS), as well as AfriYAN Namibia.

Roadmap to Nairobi

UNFPA Namibia launched its Roadmap to Nairobi at a high-level reception in May to mark the beginning of the double celebrations of UNFPA’s 50th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the ICPD. The roadmap sets out commemorative events by UNFPA Namibia to advance the ICPD agenda. It will culminate in Namibia’s reaffirmation of the Cairo ICPD agenda at the high-level global Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the Promise, in Kenya from 12-14 November.

-UNFPA Namibia