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ASTRA Youth at 13th AWID International Forum

ASTRA Youth attended 13th AWID International Forum, organized under the theme Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice.

ASTRA Youth representatives from Poland and Croatia actively participated in the pre-conference Young Feminist Activism Day. Also, ASTRA Youth held the panel discussion Healthy signposts on bumpy roads to safe futures: youth SRHR realities in Central and Eastern Europe, organized in cooperation with Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, CESI (Center for education, counseling, and research) Croatia, and Society Without Violence, Armenia.

ASTRA Youth coordinator provided a brief introduction to the panel, discussing the general sexual and reproductive health and rights’ situation in Central and Eastern Europe. She highlighted, that the region is unrecognized at the global arena and mistakenly perceived as having the same realities as Western Europe. Then, the panelists from Croatia, Armenia and Russia presented background SRHR situation in their specific contexts, providing local stories related to lack of realization of young people’s rights. Activists touched upon burning SRHR issues, such as lack of access to SRH services in Croatia; sex-selective abortions and lack of CSE in Armenia; and HIV epidemics and violence against LGBTQ persons in Russia. They also addressed the emergence of anti-SRHR initiatives and their influence on laws and policies. Challenges faced by civil society and examples of successful campaigns were also presented. After the panel, the audience had an opportunity to reflect on the issues discussed by panelists and provide their remarks on youth SRHR.


13th AWID International Forum: ASTRA Youth panel

13th AWID International Forum is taking place this week, from 8th to 11th September 2016 in Costa do Sauipe - Bahia, Brazil. The theme of the Forum is Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice.

The 13th AWID International Forum will bring together approximately 1700 activists, allies and movements from over 140 countries across all regions of the world. There will be over 200 speakers sharing the experiences, creative disruptions, and resistance of their movements in a variety of plenaries, cross-movement, umbrella and participant led sessions, and different arts and culture activities across the program.

ASTRA Youth representatives will attend the 13th AWID International Forum and provide their contributions at Young Feminist Activism Day.

ASTRA Youth will also hold the panel session Healthy signposts on bumpy roads to safe futures: youth SRHR realities in Central and Eastern Europe, organized in cooperation with Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, CESI (Center for education, counseling and research) Croatia, and Society Without Violence, Armenia.

Date&place: 9th September, 16:30-18:00 at Gran Bahia 3.

The session will address current challenges faced by young people, when exercising their sexual and reproductive rights in Central and Eastern Europe. These realities will be discussed, while underscoring power of youth NGOs, which serve as healthy signposts, providing adolescents with comprehensive information on their health.

The session will acquaint the audience with current SRHR realities of young people in Central and Eastern Europe and challenges they face when exercising their rights. Youth development is envisioned as a road which safety depends on the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights. For young people in the region this road is bumpy because of barriers they meet in the access to sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education; therefore, their safety, health and freedom to make autonomous, responsible decisions are threatened. These challenges will be presented by youth SRHR activists from Armenia, Croatia and Russia. They will address most burning issues on youth SRHR in their local context: lack of comprehensive sexuality education and gender stereotypes in Armenia; hampered access to sexual and reproductive health services in Croatia and HIV epidemics in Russia, which rates remain one of the highest in the region.

These accounts will be discussed in a broader context of political, economic and social crises, in which youth advocates act for realization of SRHR and gender equality. Also, the increase of anti-choice movements across the region will be addressed, as they hamper implementation of progressive laws and strengthen patriarchal, homophobic approaches among the society through spreading misinformation on sexuality and claiming sexuality education to hypersexualize adolescents. Anti-SRHR initiatives also gain more power as entering political realm by submitting law proposals aiming to limit youth access to SRH services, including access to safe abortion and contraceptives; ban implementation of CSE curricula at schools and limit rights of LGBTQI citizens.

Challenging political situation and anti-choice movements’ influence demand new strategies from youth SRHR advocates. This session will underscore the need to embrace proactive, not only reactive approach to emerging threats and addressing youth SRHR as integrated in the universal health coverage and human rights framework. During the session youth advocates will provide examples of good practices they use when counteracting opposition and successful advocacy activities undertaken to enable young people to make autonomous choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health. They will also address ways in which NGOs’ collective power is built: by strengthening youth movement, crossing hurdles of anti-choice approaches and shaping positive attitudes to youth sexuality in their local communities.

We hope to raise awareness of the audience – SRHR activists, stakeholders, on the SRHR of young people in Central and Eastern Europe, a region which specificity remains unrecognized at the global arena. We also aim to exchange good practices and strategies which are embraced by youth organizations to manage multiple challenges on recognition and implementation of laws related to youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

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New sexual education program was prepared, during last meeting youth showed their position

The working group of 29 people from very different organisations accepted the final version of new Sexual Education program on 10th of August that was approved by Ministry of Education and Science.

The project includes three main subjects: education of health (physical activity, healthy nutrition, psychological health, etc.), education of sexuality (sexual identity, sexual orientation, tolerance, the prevention of risk sexual behavior, contraception, etc.)  and preparation for family (methods of planning, marriage, gender equality, pregnancy, needs of infant, etc.). Still there are some points that should be implemented but wasn’t approved.

The program will be implemented in schools on 2017.

Before the last meeting, young people gathered together near Ministry of Education and Science to show their needs: by holding electrical bulbs in their hands they were inviting working group members to stand for science based sexual education, not stereotypes or religious dogmas. The need of science based sexual education that will fulfil basic human rights were written on posters and discussed with journalists after the picket.

Event galleries:

FPSHA support for politicians who endorse SRHR as basic human needs

The election of Lithuania Republic politicians will be held on this autumn. As politicians, who really support SRHR and agree that it is one of important need to work on, are really very necessary, FPSHA organized interview about sexual education and perspectives of it in Lithuania. The interviews were taken from those politicians, who strongly stand for SRHR, FPSHA declared their support for these politicians.

The video of interviews will be shared with Lithuanian people community on autumn. Gallery of event can be checked here:

Training “How to prepare to talk about THAT with children’s” by FPSHA

The training for society (parents, teachers, other specialists) on how to prepare yourself to talk with child about sexual education at home were held on 20-21 of July by FPSHA. During the training participants were introduce with “ASK: Parents as Key Facilitators in sex-education” prepared and translated toolkit, the topics on why/when/how/what to talk and why it is important for children were included. During the practical session participants were instructed on how to defeat their fears, emotions, psychologically prepare themselves to start conversation, how to break down all the “taboo” and refuse all negative and incorrect stereotypes and beliefs.


Event gallery here:

The project official page here:

LGBT* community The March of equality: "WE ARE PEOPLE, NOT PROPAGANDA!"

On 18th June, 2016 LGBT* community members and their allies participated in the March for Equality on the central avenue in the downtown of Vilnius to celebrate the Baltic Pride 2016, the most important LGBT* (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community event in the Baltic states, organized by the National LGBT* rights organization LGL.

The event began with a moment of silence honoring the victims of the terrorist attack which took place in a LGBT* community space in the United States.

Participants in the march included members of the European Parliament, Lithuanian and international politicians, representatives of international organizations and residents and visitors of the Vilnius city. After the March for Equality participants and friendly spectators were invited to the art factory “Loftas” for the Baltic Pride Park 2016 concert.

The Baltic Pride 2016 festival took place in Vilnius for the third time. This year the festival was used to challenge the discriminatory application of the “anti-gay propaganda”  legislation and to encourage public debate on legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Lithuania. The next Baltic Pride March for Equality will take place in Vilnius in 2019. In 2017Baltic Pride festival will be hosted in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn. 


The video from Baltic Pride 2016 at:

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

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