image image Follow Us:

Astra youth

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

The campaign on youth SRHR in Croatia

CESI has noticed, trough the work with the youth, that they do want to learn about SRHR but do not have the opportunity in the existing school curriculum. Attitudes of young people towards socially sensitive topics, like abortion rights or emergency contraception are often based on distortions and incomplete information. 

Youth who participated in a series of discussions organized by CESI say: 

"We believe that we know some things, but we do not, and we are afraid to ask."

"I'm interested in the topic and read an interesting article on SRHR. I do have some kind of attitude towards it, but new information always helps me to build the attitudes up a bit."

"Young people aged 14-16 are interested, and they wish to learn more. After that age, they believe they know everything. We are not sure what do we need to know and do not know how to ask."

Therefore, CESI has launched the campaign "My thing, my choice - it's time to find out more", which aims to inform and encourage the youth to think about different aspects of sexuality, reproductive and sexual rights and health. 

CESI wishes to make it easier for youth to learn about SRHR and to make it possible for them to exercise their rights in full scope in a responsible way. Furthermore, the project aims to put in perspective, for the target group, what goes under the umbrella of sexual and reproductive rights.  The idea is to share various multimedia materials on the Facebook page and animate the youth to think trough and talk about facts and figures that shape their everyday life and potential choices. 

Source: CESI

International Youth Day 2016: Youth Leading Sustainability

12 August 2016: International Youth Day

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

This year’s Day is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production.

Sustainable consumption entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations. The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption of all and minimize waste and pollution is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development. Yet, many young men and women face barriers to certain green consumption choices. Those barriers to sustainable consumption choices include the high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available choices.

Increasing resource efficiency and moving toward sustainable production can contribute significantly to meeting the basic needs of all people, including youth, by making food, water and energy more accessible and affordable to those living in poverty. Investing in sustainable production also creates new markets and employment opportunities and helps ensure the social inclusion of all persons in their societies everywhere.

Changes in consumption patterns also have the potential to contribute to the eradication of poverty. Sustainable development and the creation of conditions that allow for a transition into a green economy, often provide new impetus for economic growth and a higher proportion of spending allocated to social development, including health care and education.

The combined positive impact of sustainable consumption and production on energy use and environmental conservation will greatly benefit those people and places that are more vulnerable to harmful environmental— and industrial— outcomes and climate change. By focusing on the social development dimensions of sustainable consumption and production, this year’s theme places an emphasis on a cross-sectoral approach to sustainability and the vast social, political, economic and environmental interlinkages needed to achieve it.

 

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY

In 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the General Assembly declared August 12 International Youth Day, which gives an opportunity to celebrate young peoples’ views and initiatives. Celebrations at the United Nations Headquarters and around the world will recognize the importance of youth efforts, collaboration and participation in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and in particular the role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production. Events to celebrate International Youth Day 2016 will take place all over the world. Be part of the celebrations by organizing your own event or activity. You can organize an event to celebrate International Youth Day in your community, school, youth club, or workplace. Let us know about your event by sending your planned event or activity for International Youth Day toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we’ll map it on the IYD World Map of Events. You can also follow us on social media at United Nations Youth on Facebook and @UN4Youth on Twitter!

More information on the event: https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/international-youth-day-2016.html

Source: United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development

UN World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement

The World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement, prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), explores young people's participation in economic, political and community life.

UN DESA provides an interface between global policies in the economic, social and environmental spheres and national action. The UN World Youth Report, its biennial publication, offers fresh perspectives and innovative ideas on youth engagement, and is intended to serve as an impetus and tool for dialogue, policy discussion and action between youth and government.

The current Report responds to growing interest in, and an increased policy focus on, youth civic engagement in recent years among governments, young people and researchers. The Report provides thematic insights on economic, political and community engagement, coupled with expert opinion pieces so as to provide robust and varied perspectives into youth engagement. 

The report is accessible here.

The Prevention Gap report by UNAIDS reveals concerning trends in new HIV infections among adults

The Prevention gap report shows that while significant progress is being made in stopping new HIV infections among children (new HIV infections have declined by more than 70% among children since 2001 and are continuing to decline), the decline in new HIV infections among adults has stalled. The report shows that HIV prevention urgently needs to be scaled up among this age group.

The report shows that an estimated 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for at least the past five years and that new HIV infections among adults are rising in some regions. The Prevention gap report gives the clear message that HIV prevention efforts need to be increased in order to stay on the Fast-Track to ending AIDS by 2030.

According to the report Eastern Europe and central Asia saw a 57% increase in annual new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015.

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 51% of new HIV infections occur among people who inject drugs. More than 80% of the region’s new HIV infections in 2015 were in the Russian Federation. The epidemic is concentrated predominantly among key populations and their sexual partners, in particular people who inject drugs, who accounted for more than half of new HIV infections in 2015. However there is very low coverage of prevention programmes, in particular harm-reduction interventions among people who inject drugs.

UNAIDS urges countries to take a location and population approach to HIV programming efforts following five prevention pillars, to be delivered comprehensively and in combination:

  • Programmes for young women and adolescent girls and their male partners in high-prevalence locations.
  • Key population services in all countries.
  • Strengthened national condom programmes.
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision in priority countries.
  • PrEP for population groups at higher risk of HIV infection.

Source: UNAIDS Press Release

UN Special Rapporteur on Health report on adolescents

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, has presented the report on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health at the UN Human Rights Council.

In the document Rapporteur focuses on adolescents’ health, including mental, sexual and reproductive health. He calls the States to ‘remove all legal barriers to access health facilities, goods and services that interfere with the rights of adolescents to be heard and to be taken seriously and that, ultimately, limit their right to make autonomous decisions.’

He highlights that healthcare services should ensure respect for adolescents’ rights to privacy and confidentiality, address their different cultural needs and expectations, and comply with ethical standards. 

Moreover, the report includes recommendation for States to adopt or integrate a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for all adolescents into national strategies and programmes to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. Pūras recommends to decriminalize abortion, ensure adolescents the access to confidential and non-discriminatory sexual and reproductive health information, services and good and integrate comprehensive sexuality education in the school curriculum. The expert noted that adolescents should be protected from violence and neglect, including in family settings, by the upholding of their right to confidential services and counselling without parental consent. He also recommended to support families to increase the abilities of parents to raise children and adolescents in a competent and confident manner, and reinforce skills to manage situations in a non-violent way. 

The report is available here.

Source: OHCHR

“Speak my language”: Abortion Storytelling in Eastern Europe from a Youth Perspective

“Speak my language”: Abortion Storytelling in Eastern Europe from a Youth Perspective. A Toolkit Developed by and for Young People with inputs from Georgia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Poland and Romania - new and very interesting publication by YouAct with great input from ASTRA Youth.

Why abortion stigma? 

We believe it is imperative to consider abortion stigma as a critical issue for youth. We recognise the importance of considering the most human aspects of abortion. There is much more than just abortion rights, and health factors. Abortion is a social reality, a cultural phenomenon, and a human experience. Abortion stigma is a social and cultural event which can lead to social, medical and legal ramifications. The consequences raised by abortion stigma are placed within a context where social norms, health and social policies, and community practices play strong roles on the development of abortion experiences (For more on abortion stigma, see http://www.endabortionstigma.org/). 

Why Eastern Europe? 

Since the collapse of communism, Eastern Europe has witnessed a number of transformations, especially on political and economic levels. Despite progress in the form of economic development and empowerment of civil society as one of the effective mechanisms calling for the accountability of authorities, there are still grey areas to be addressed. The region has to struggle with growing inequalities, social injustice, discrimination, corruption, religious fundamentalism and patriarchal structures. This situation is reflected in a number of fields, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

Why this toolkit? 

We believe sharing these experiences can empower youth to create a different human reality by eliminating abortion stigma. Stories have a power of their own – telling and sharing them, can help us develop profoundly, as well as give people the chance to see  what abortion stigma can mean to others.

With this toolkit, we aim to provide organisations, professionals, individuals, and especially youth with a framework to develop their own strategies to use storytelling to draw out the voices from our bodies*, learn to speak a language through which we can satisfactorily communicate abortion stigma, and provide others with the tools to learn to speak our language.

You can view/download the publication here.

*Reference inspired by the work of Frank, Arthur (1995) The Wounded Storyteller: body, illness and ethics. London: The University of Chicago Press

Source: YouAct

Page 4 of 35