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Astra youth

Civil society appealing to Lithuanian Ministry of Education for CSE

At the moment, the working group for preparation of a new sexuality education programme is working in Lithuania. The working group members are mainly priests, parents of conservative attitudes, members of NGOs that act for saving life from the zygote. So that is the main reason why all suggestions to develop gender equality, science and human rights based programme were mainly crossed out. What’s more, those who disagree with conservative opinions are being called killers, murderers, pornography company members who want to prepare "sex users". The bigger conservative side is winning at this point. But, the draft of this program was shared and lots of human rights NGOs started to talk.

Over thirty non-governmental youth, human rights and women’s organizations signed a letter to the Ministry of Education to review the upcoming sexuality education programme. The organizations claim that the current draft programme on sexuality education doesn’t provide high quality information enabling young people to develop interpersonal relationship and engage in safe sex practices. According to letter authors, the programme should be focused on age-adequate and scientifically-based information for students and shouldn’t distort the reality with biased, negative information.

The signatories call the Ministry to pay appropriate attention to this topic and develop an alternative, human rights and scientific-based sexuality education programme. They also expressed concern about the Minister of Education claim that science and human-rights based sexuality education programme introduced by NGOs is influenced by business interest. The Minister asked for explanation on the facts justifying the necessity for sexuality education programme.

With contribution of  Julita Valancauskyte, FSPHA Lithuania

Source: Mano Teises

Sexuality education –still a taboo topic in Macedonia

Macedonia rates of unwanted teen pregnancies have risen three times in comparison to any European country and the numbers of sexually transmitted infections are growing. According to H.E.R.A., which for years has advocated for introduction of sexuality education in schools, this data is not surprising, as the rate of modern contraception usage is the lowest in Europe.

H.E.R.A. initiatives to introduce sexuality education were supported by the Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men and in 2011 the relevant curriculum was developed. However, as it included explanation of gender identities and information on diverse sexual orientations, the curriculum was finally rejected.

The Ministry of Education until now repeatedly argued that a separate subject of sexuality education is not necessary. As the Ministry explains, the Life Skills subject includes information on adolescents’ growth and development and involves a section related to sexuality education.

Source: Telma

Outdoor game on STIs for teenagers

Polish ASTRA Youth member, Ponton Group of Sex Educators has organized an outdoor game for young people. The main goal of the game was to increase knowledge and raise awareness about HIV, AIDS and other STIs among adolescents. Participants were young people aged 15-19 from educational care centres.

The game took place in the forest near Warsaw. Ponton volunteers prepared 9 stations, where participants took knowledge test on STIs, played quiddity and played roles related to the topic. They also had an opportunity to develop group work and decision-making skills. 

Source: Ponton Group of Sex Educators

Law proposal banning religious early marriages rejected in Kyrgyzstan

The law proposal, which would outlaw the religious consecration of marriage rites for minors, was banned by the Kyrgyz parliament.

Early marriage is not unusual in Kyrgyzstan; as National Statistics Commission argues, 15% of married women between 25 and 49 years of age got married before turning 18 and 1% did it under the age of 15. In recent years, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child voiced concerns over child, early and forced marriages in Kyrgyzstan.

The law proposal specifically related to religious marriage rites (nikah), as opposed to marriages registered with the state. Amendments proposed by Ata-Meken party deputy Aida Salyanova aimed to criminalize the forcible imposition of religious mariage rites before their official registration. The proposal was supported by 44 MPs and opposed by 61.


ASTRA Youth at Women Deliver 2016 conference

Women Deliver 4th Global Conference took place on 16-19 May 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a large gathering on women’s health and rights of 5000 participants, among which there were world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers, corporate companies’ representatives and civil society.

ASTRA Youth members from Croatia, Romania, Poland, Armenia and Ukraine attended the conference as participants of Women Deliver Young Leaders Programme and scholarships’ recipients. Young activists participated in Women Deliver Youth Pre-Conference, during which they gained knowledge and skills on advocacy, youth leadership, coalition building, accountability and media representation.

ASTRA Youth members represented the network also at panel discussions during the conference. Representative of Croatian AY member organization CESI was a speaker at a panel ‘Using accountability to defend rights’, where she presented data collection on abortion accesibility in Croatia and how civil society used it for advocacy actions. She was involved in the Youth Zone session ‘Broadcasting Youth Voices’, where she discussed her journalist experience in mainstreaming information on SRHR. She also facilitated the break-out session on health education, being a part of Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Caucus, organized by RODA-Parents in Action. Participants of the session were talking about challenges related to sexuality education in their countries and provided solutions. ASTRA Youth coordinator was a speaker at the panel discussion organized by Amnesty International ‘The impact of criminalizing sexuality and reproduction: a Human Rights violation’, where she reviewed limitations of young people’s SRHR in the region as well as discussed recent anti-choice mobilization in Poland.

ASTRA Youth and Amnesty International conducted a joint participatory session 'Respect My Rights, Respect My Dignity: Participatory Ways to Tackle Taboo Topics' at Youth Zone. ASTRA Youth members from Armenia, Romania and Croatia facilitated part of the session, focused on social theatre methods and their usage for discussing SRHR issues. Session participants had an opportunity to be involved in social theatre exercise, thanks to which they learned how to work on taboo topics in a participatory way.


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