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National consultations of young SRHR leaders on the 2030 Agenda in Poland

Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (Eastern Europe & Central Asia Region) along with International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA-Poland) and ASTRA Youth have organized a national consultation for Polish NGOs working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly young people and adolescents. The consultation were focused on bringing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs from global to local levels, taking into account local opportunities and challenges the civil society faces. The consultation was held as part of ‘Have you seen my rights?’ campaign.

The meeting brought together ten civil society activists working for enhancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights in diverse fields: comprehensive sexuality education, rights of people with disabilities, rights of LGBTQ people and HIV/AIDS-related issues. The participants of the meeting had the occasion to acknowledge with 2030 Agenda and SDGs relevant to sexual and reproductive health, as well as European Parliaments’ reports and resolutions addressing SRHR. Participants have also discussed the strategies of transforming international frameworks into specific local actions and summed up the current realities regarding realization of SRHR in Poland. Consultations concluded with strategizing on potential future advocacy activities aiming to remind the government of their accountability to enhance sexual and reproductive health and rights of all, in particular young people.

Research in Georgia on the access to youth SRH counselling services

Union Women’s Center has conducted the project ‘“Improved Access to Youth Sexual and Repro­ductive Health Counseling Services”, deriving from the main outcomes of the National Youth Policy in Georgia for years 2015-2020. The main goal of the project was to conduct a research on students’ attitudes toward the sexual and reproduc­tive health issues and their vision on health services, particularly how youth-friendly reproductive centers at primary health care level and doctor’s offices at the university level respond to the student’s repro­ductive needs. The research was based on qualitative and quantitative methods, with application of focus group discussions and survey questionnaire. The sample included 30 respondents from various universities.

Data analysis shows that 67% of the students are not aware, if their university provides health center and are convinced that such centers work only in emergency cases. Students are also not aware of the existence of youth-friendly reproductive health centers and 12% of interviewed students have never visited a doctor. Three- quarters of the students rarely visit general health centers or reproductive health centers, mainly because of their low quality and lack of anonymity. The main source of information on sexual and reproductive health is the Internet.

The research also revealed that students regard youth-friendly health consultation centers as important and are in a great need of information on sexually transmitted diseases, family planning and contraception as well as general health care.

Union Women’s Center hopes the results of the research will contribute to the development and implementation of youth policies improving the access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health counselling services.


16 Days of Activism: Stop Violence Against SRHR Defenders!

On the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, in solidarity with women’s rights movements worldwide, and highlighting the courageous actions by activists around the globe working to protect and advance our sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) calls for an end to the violence directed at SRHR defenders, as well as their recognition and protection as Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs).

WGNRR calls on governments, international organizations, partners, and human rights advocates to recognize SRHR activists as WHRDs, particularly those who advocate for safe and legal abortion, LGBTQI rights, human rights in childbirth, sex workers’ rights, and/or youth SRHR; and to end the violence they experience because of who they are and the work that they do. When governments permit attacks on WHRDs, including SRHR defenders, they impede human rights and perpetuate gender-based violence.

For this year’s 16 Days of Activism, WGNRR

Demands that governments and Human Rights bodies:

  • Pay particular attention to cases of WHRDs who have been threatened because of the nature of their work, and protect them from State and non-State actors that can violate their health, wellbeing and rights.
  • Create and implement policies and mechanisms that will protect SRHR defenders’ human rights, among them the rights to defend human rights; to liberty, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; and to freedom from violence and discrimination.

Encourage international organizations to:

  • Prioritize the recognition of SRHR Defenders as WHRDs in your work, and urge governments to take all necessary steps to create appropriate protection mechanisms and eradicate this form of violence.
  • Within the framework of your mandates, develop standards for the protection of SRHR advocates, to be taken into account by States in the development of inclusive protection policies.

Finally, they are calling on all our members, partners, and allies to:

  • HIGHLIGHT the courageous actions of our colleagues and friends– defenders of sexual and reproductive rights, particularly those who have lost their lives for this cause, and those who have been victims of repression, extremism, intolerance, attacks, threats or intimidation.
  • SHARE your stories and experiences on social media using the hashtags #SRHRvoices #SRHRheroes and help us make visible the often silent struggles SRHR defenders have to endure every day as Women’s Human Rights Defenders. Your story can help raise awareness about the violence that SRHR activists face on a daily basis and be a source of strength for thousands of SRHR defenders!


Share your stories and let your #SRHRvoices be heard! You are #SRHRHeroes !

Stop Violence against SRHR defenders!

 The Call for Action is accessible at:  C4A-16days-layout.pdf

 Source: WGNRR

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence in Bulgaria

ASTRA Youth member, Gender Alternatives Foundation (GAF) implements the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence”[1] Campaign locally in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for a fourth consecutive year. Thus we express solidarity and support for the global efforts of thousands organizations and activists around the world in the eradication of violence against women. We are a major Campaign’s initiator in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. With the activities we say “NO to violence against women and girls – make education safe and accessible to all”!

Many women and girls do not have access to quality education due to existing gender stereotypes and obligations in the household. These challenges pressure girls to comply with domestic and social expectations ending up in early marriages, domestication, discrimination on the labour market and lower wages. Improving access to education and vocational activities of women and girls can break the “circle of poverty” and to encourage economic advancement and other global setbacks like war conflicts and health issues.

In our efforts to secure quality education and to eradicate gender stereotypes, the GAF team has prepared the following activities which we hope to become long-term initiatives:

1.Press conference – announcing the start of the Campaign

2.“Code: Empowerment” workshops

We will conduct several workshops on the basics of computer programming, entitled “Code: Empowerment”. With this activity, we want to encourage young people living in institutions to pursue quality educational opportunities and to further develop their interests in technology. We want to demonstrate to young people and especially to girls that coding is interesting, captivating and useful activity that can lead to sustainable professional development. Ultimately, we strive to show that the world of technology is open to all, irrespective of their age and gender.

 3.     Two months intensive courses on English Language and Information and Communication Technologies for vulnerable groups of women

4.     Street Campaign on the Main street in Plovdiv – 10 double sided advertisement canvases are allocated for the 16 Days Campaign. The activity is in partnership with ZONTA CLUB-Plovdiv. We will also disseminate brochures with the help of volunteers from Plovdiv University. 

Source: Gender Alternatives Foundation

[1] “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” Campaign is a globalcampaign directed towards different types of violence against women and girls. It starts on November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and continues until December 10th (Human Rights Day). The dates were chosen to emphasize the links between ending gender-based violence and human rights principles and highlight that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation. 2015 marks 24 years from Campaign’s beginning which dates back to 1991. The initiative is coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.


WHO brief on HIV and young MSM

WHO has published a brief ‘HIV and young men who have sex with men’ (MSM). This technical brief is one in a series addressing four young key populations. It is intended for policy-makers, donors, service-planners, service-providers and community-led organizations. This brief aims to catalyse and inform discussions about how best to provide health services, programmes and support for young MSM. It offers a concise account of current knowledge concerning the HIV risk and vulnerability of young MSM; the barriers and constraints they face to appropriate services; examples of programmes that may work well in addressing their needs and rights; and approaches and considerations for providing services that both draw upon and build to the strengths, competencies and capacities of young MSM.

The brief is available here.

Source: WHO

How to talk about abortion: A guide to rights-based messaging

New publication by IPPF "How to talk about abortion: A guide to rights-based messaging" provides useful tips and advice on what to consider when developing materials relating to abortion. The content includes examples of positive, rights-based messages, and how to avoid using stigmatizing language and images. This guide can be used by educators, advocates, programmers, health professionals and policy makers, among others, to help inform the development of a wide range of communication materials.

Access it online here.

Booklet for young women living with HIV

IPPF has released a booklet ‘Girls Decide: What do I do if I live with HIV and…’. The booklet responds to needs and issues of young women living with HIV. It responds to questions about dating, relationships, sexuality and parenthood. The booklet offers practical information and advive on how to disclose the information on HIV status to family and intimate partner, safer sex practices and advice related to pregnancy and motherhood. It also provides information on contraception and abortion.

The booklet is accessible here.

Source: IPPF

Sexuality education policy briefs

The Federal Centre for Health Education BZgA in Germany, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia), and the World Health Organisation (WHO Regional Office for Europe) with input from various experts, including representatives from IPPF EN Member Associations, jointly develop a series of policy briefs on sexuality education.

The first two issues have now been released and answer the questions:

- What is sexuality education?

- And what is the impact of sexuality education?

The policy briefs are targeted to politicians and other decision makers, primarily in Europe and Central Asia, and provide them with short and comprehensive information on different issues regarding sexuality education. As an advocacy tool, the policy briefs promote good quality sexuality education as an effective life-course intervention which supports children and young people in protecting their sexual health and general well-being.

Policy brief No. 1 provides background information on the history, the benefits and the rights-based approach of sexuality education and further discusses myths and facts in this field. It argues that children and young people can greatly benefit from good quality sexuality education, which are age and development appropriate.

Policy brief No. 2 summarises the scientific evidence regarding the impact of sexuality education on the sexual health and well-being of children and young people. In this regard, it explores public health-related indicators but also so called “soft outcomes” of sexuality education, such as the development of a positive attitude towards sexuality, as well as skills in communication, decision-making and critical thinking. 

The briefs are accessible here.

Meeting with the Ministry of Health of Lithuania and poster exhibition opening

Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania attended the meeting with the Ministry of Health of Lithuania on 7th of October. During the meeting Association’s exhibition of posters was presented and youth volunteers had an opportunity to talk about their position on SRHR of young people.

Youth group representatives together with Ministry of Health Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė had a discussion about some of the most problematic SRHR aspects: prices of the sexually transmitted diseases’ tests, contraception accessibility, long waiting time of consultation with specialist and medical staff skills on working and communicating with young people.

Ministry of Health agreed on some aspects of problems and that it has to be solved. She promised to work on these rights as much as she can, to create at least a possibility on improving SRHR for youth.

The Battle of Ministries: Romanian Sex Ed is Vividly Debated

Ministry of Health states that sex education lessons should be compulsory and promises to organize working meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Education.

The news come surprisingly after the Ministry of Education declared only a few days ago that compulsory sex education will not be part of the Romanian curriculum. The Ministry of Health in Romania supports the introduction of compulsory sex education in schools, as mentioned in the official response to the joint letter signed by 60 SRHR –focused NGOs in Romania. The Ministry of Health said: ‘A legal framework must be ensured in order to support the introduction of sexuality education in the school curriculum as a compulsory subject. This can be achieved through inter-ministerial collaboration between Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education’.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health promised to organize working meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Education with the purpose of developing a long-term strategy for providing health education. The Ministry also expressed appreciation for the NGOs engagement in providing proper information on sexuality, taking into consideration Romania’s high adolescent birth rates, one of the highest in Europe. The Ministry believes that introducing compulsory health education can contribute to the prevention of STIs on both individual and collective levels.

The letter to Romanian decisionmakers was a result of the advocacy efforts carried out by a coalition of over 60 SRHR-focused NGOs. The initiative, named ‘Urgent call for sexuality education in schools’, demanded the introduction of compulsory sex ed in the national curriculum. This initiative was developed by the Coalition for Gender Equality and the Association Sex versus Stork. The call was endorsed by various Romanian institutions, including the Romanian Youth Council and the National Alliance of Student Organizations.

The letter also received the opposition of 18 Christian-orientated associations, among them the Association of Parents for Religion. Reacting to the letter, the conservative groups demanded the Ministry of Education ‘to protect the right of the family in front of those who want to impose compulsory sex education’. They also warned that ‘Sexuality is a natural predisposition that can be easily instrumentalized through ideological discourse and thus fall under the control of foreign interests, at which point it becomes destructive’.

On the other hand, at the beginning of the month, The Romanian Ministry of Education told the press that he has no intention to introduce compulsory sex ed in the national curriculum. The Ministry insisted that the already existing optional subject “Education for Health” covers enough aspects of human sexuality. The Ministry motivated his decision by affirming that a compulsory sex ed class would overload the students’ daily schedule thus making it impossible for young people to “understand anything at all”.


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