image image Follow Us:

Astra youth

Sexual and reproductive health of young people in Macedonia

Only 1.6 % of young women aged 15 to 19 claim they use oral contraception, while only 34.8% of young people used a condom during their last sexual intercourse. The rates of teenage pregnancy and abortions in this age group are several times higher than in the EU. It is estimated that in Macedonia there’s an increasing tendency in the number of people infected with sexually transmitted infections among young people, especially chlamydia and HPV. A growing number of young couples faces infertility, often caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections. The situation regarding violence and intolerance among young people is worrying. Access to appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health and sexuality within the existing curricula is insufficient. These are some of the conclusions reached by a working group composed of expert representatives of 23 ministries, health, educational and social institutions and civil society organizations in Macedonia.

Drashko Kostovski, the Program Director at H.E.R.A., claims that the information young people receive is often outdated, irrelevant and often inaccurate. In a recent research only 13% of students said they learned about condoms and barely 2% on oral contraception.

Only 12.8 % of the population uses modern contraception, making Macedonia one of the countries with the lowest use of modern contraception in Europe. Data shows that in 2008, 6.7% of all births were among the women under the age of 19, while the specific fertility rate in the age group 15-19 was 20.1 in 2008. The number of registered live births to mothers aged 15 years is on the rise, as in 2009 it was 33 while in 2008 it was 24.

Source: Nova Makedonija [mkd]

Youth advocates’ involvement at the International AIDS Conference 2016

The International AIDS Conference took place from 18 to 22 July 2016 in Durban, South Africa. It was the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. The conference provided an opportunity to evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt and collectively chart a course forward.

More than 100 young people from around the world participated in the Pre-Conference event and AIDS Conference and had an opportunity to voice the importance of youth involvement in the HIV prevention movement. Youth advocates developed the AIDS 2016 Youth Outcome Statement, in which they call governments to ensure comprehensive sexuality education in formal and non-formal settings, integrate human rights principles in all laws and policies, as well as to ensure youth involvement in the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The statement can be found here

Source: EECA Youth Voice

Investing in teenage girls is key for Moldova prosperity

The UNFPA Representative in Moldova op.ed. was published in "Ziarul de garda" newspaper in Romanian and Russian on July 28, 2016.

Moldova is one of the youngest countries in Europe. Of its total inhabitants, almost 25 per cent are young people between the ages of 16 and 30. Therefore, the young people, especially young girls, need investments in their education, health and employment opportunities in order to realize their full potential.

The economic and social challenges hit the young population of Moldova hard and as a result, we have increasing emigration, deteriorating the health of youth and increasing risks for harmful behaviours. For many young people, it is difficult to find a job at home. The youth unemployment is three times higher than unemployment among older adults. Young people often resort to unstable work or leave the country in search of better prospects.

Adolescent boys and girls are more often exposed to risky behaviours due to their lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and limited access to youth-friendly services. Young people in Moldova have significantly higher rates of sexually transmitted infections than in other neighbouring countries. Only about one-third of young people, aged 15 to 24, have comprehensive knowledge about HIV. The rate of adolescent pregnancies is still very high in Moldova, reaching 23.2 births per 1,000 teenage girls aged 15-19 years old, compared to 11.0 births per 1,000 teenage girls in the European Union member states.

Although the risks of limited knowledge and information on sexual and reproductive health have been recognized by the Government, and the Law no. 138 on Reproductive Heath adopted in 2012 envisages access of young people to mandatory comprehensive sexuality education in schools, this is not being yet a reality in Moldova.

Parents are not well equipped to either support their children in making informed choices and practice a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, young people in Moldova are often left alone to deal with these challenges. According to some estimates, about 100,000 children in the country have been left behind by migrant parents. 

Behind statistics, there are lives of young people. Every day we hear stories about teenage girls getting pregnant and giving up on their education, young women struggling to make a decision about their motherhood, or women experienced violence. 

To ensure that each adolescent girl and boy has a bright future in Moldova and reaches her or his full potential, thus contributing to the economic and social development of the country, we should focus on and stand up for human rights. Young people, especially the most vulnerable young people, should be assured that their rights to education, health, including sexual and reproductive health, and freedom from violence are fulfilled.

Developing human capital by giving a voice to youth and investing in them, especially in teenage girls, as more vulnerable in this context, is essential for Moldova. Increasing access to quality health services and education on sexual and reproductive health, ensuring youth participation, will help young people to realize their rights and be active citizens of Moldova, but most important – it will contribute to the economic growth of the country. Healthy and educated youth means empowered and healthy adult generation in the future who can propel economic growth and ensure the prosperity of the country. 

I have met very dynamic and talented young people in Moldova, and that makes me believe that there is a lot of potential for prosperity of this country.

Investing in young people is in everyone’s interest. When a teenage girl or boy has the power, the means and the information to make her or his own decisions in life, they are more likely to realize their full potential and become a positive force for change in their family, community and country.

The article is available here.

Source: UNFPA Moldova

International Youth Day 2016: Youth Voices Matter

International Youth Day 2016:

#YouthVoicesMatter! Uphold Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights!

 

This International Youth Day, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) and the Latin American Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN) join advocates worldwide in calling on governments to ensure young people’s meaningful participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes affecting their lives. In particular, young people’s voices must be heard in regards to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

To date, adolescents and young people continue to be among the most affected worldwide by persisting inequalities, particularly regarding their SRHR, where many:

  • live in regions where education and health systems are of poor quality and/or inaccessible;
  • are denied access to any existing SRH information and services, because of barriers such as marital or parental consent requirements, stigma surrounding adolescent sexuality, and negative/judgmental attitudes from parents, teachers, healthcare providers or other adult figures;[1]
  • are subjected to sexual violence or early or forced marriage[2];
  • are forced to carry a pregnancy against their will, or resort to desperate and unsafe measures to end an unwanted pregnancy, risking their health and lives;[3]
  • Are in turn denied their rights to health and development, education, safety, privacy, and bodily autonomy, among other human rights violations.[4]

2016 is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which will shape the international community’s sustainable development efforts over the next 15 years. Yet the 2030 Agenda actually includes few explicit references to adolescents and young people, let alone their SRHR, thereby exemplifying how all too often they continue to be rendered invisible at a policy level in both national and international contexts. Moreover, when young people are recognized they are often treated as a monolith, overlooking their diversity in terms of age, gender, socioeconomic background, civil status, migrant status, whether they are living with HIV, and whether they are in or out of school, among other issues. As a result, certain groups of young people are rendered even more invisible and vulnerable than others; and laws, policies and programmes often fail to acknowledge let alone meet young people’s specific needs, including their SRHR.

Young people have repeatedly shown a willingness, commitment and capacity to be at the table and participate in policy-making processes. In the lead-up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, young people worldwide consistently demonstrated their leadership, amplifying their voices and priorities in envisioning “the world we want” through landmark multi-stakeholder documents such as the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration, and the Colombo Declaration on Youth[5], as well as through participation in the Major Groups system. Youth advocates have also emphasized the critical importance of recognizing young people’s SRHR, both in terms of realizing other human rights, and their cross-cutting centrality in achieving social justice, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and sustainable development.[6]

If the international community and governments worldwide are to develop and implement sustainable policies and programmes that truly promote young people’s health, rights, and wellbeing, youth voices and priorities must be treated as central.

As such, this International Youth Day we join youth advocates, youth-led and youth-serving organizations and partners worldwide in calling on governments to:

  • Create an enabling environment for meaningful youth participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes that affect their lives, at all levels and across all sectors;
  • Establish in collaboration with young people youth-friendly and accessible forms of communication and participation, [7] to enable their active involvement;
  • Ensure the visibility of adolescents and young people in all their diversity in national data collection, through data disaggregation by age (including 10-14 year olds), sex, gender, race, income, ethnicity, disability and geographic location;
  • Ensure and expand the provision of comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care, that are accessible, affordable, confidential, and high-quality, free of marital and parental consent requirements;
  • Recognize young people’s evolving capacities and specific needs, where there is a “legal presumption of competence that an adolescent seeking preventive or time-sensitive sexual and reproductive health goods and services has the requisite capacity to access such goods and services,” as recommended by the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.[8]

Young people are not only potential leaders in the future; they are also rights-holders here and now!

#YouthVoicesMatter! #IYD2016 #YouthSRHR

 

Source: WGNRR

Gender equality event in Armenia

On July 27th 2016, Society Without Violence NGO (SWV) organized its annual public event in Artik, Shirak region titled “I am the master of my life”.  The event was dedicated to empower women, especially adolescent girls, and boys, and give them the necessary knowledge about women’s human rights and gender equality.

One important message of the annual public event was to inform the residents of Artik about sexual and reproductive health rights, and their indivisibility from women’s human rights in general. More than 50 mostly young girls and boys participated in the event held in “Gagarin Park”, and joined in the organized games and social theater, all aimed at highlighting and breaking gender stereotypes, and empowering young girls and women.

Through the event, the women and girls, of Artik were informed by means of posters and slogans such as “I am setting my own limits”, “My body is not your property”, and “My body my right”, that any decision related to women’s bodies, or decisions affecting their bodily integrity is only theirs to make. The achievement of the event did not stop there however. Young boys were also involved, and were sensitized to the issues of gender inequality and women’s bodily integrity. Moreover, the participants were informed about the significance of making sexual and reproductive health services available, accessible, and acceptable and of the highest quality attainable to all women and girls, specifically in rural areas.

Source: SWV

Page 1 of 64