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50th session of the United Nations Comission on Population and Development

The 50th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD50) was held at the United Nations HQ in New York On April 3-7, 2017. Despite weeks of informal and 10 days of formal negotiations on a draft resolution on this year’s theme “changing population age structures and sustainable development” that had been put forward by the Chair of the Commission, Alya bint Al Thani (Quatar), UN member states failed to come to a consensus. Therefore, this year, for the second time in three years, the CPD session ended without an outcome document.

The member states were divided most sharply in views on SRHR, the role and definition of “the family”, and comprehensive sexuality education. Other discussed issues included the demographic dividend, participation of the youth, women’s empowerment and participation in the labor market, as well as aging societies and pensions.

The text proposed by Ambassador Thani represented the views of the majority of governments taking part in the negotiations. It emphasized the critical importance of gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents and youth, as well as the promotion and protection of all people’s human rights, including reproductive rights, for achieving sustainable development for all.

However, after the efforts of the United States and some countries from the African Group (especially Egypt, Comoros, Cameroon, and Djibouti) to have key paragraphs of the draft deleted, it became clear that the Chair’s proposal was not going be agreed upon. As a result, she decided to withdraw the text, and the session ended with her summary instead of a resolution.  

Subsequently, France delivered a statement on behalf of a coalition of 31 countries from various regions that deplored the actions of the states that blocked approval of the resolution, and thus reject fundamental human rights. Other countries that voiced support for SRHR and consequently the chair’s efforts, included the European Union states, South Africa, Tunisia, and Argentina on behalf of its own and eight other Latin American countries. 

ASTRA Youth (representatives from Poland and Lithuania) attended the CPD session as part of the International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Caucus along with the representatives of more than 100 nonprofit organizations from 50 countries, who advocated for the sexual and reproductive rights of women, girls, and young people around the world.

The failure of the Commission on Population and Development member states to agree on a resolution text addressing the 50th session’s theme of “changing age structures and sustainable development” is a setback against the right of all individuals to free and responsible choice regarding their sexual and reproductive life.  

International Day of the Girl Child – realization of SRHR helps to end the cycle of violence against adolescent girls

11 October marks the International Day of the Girl Child, adopted at the United Nations General Assembly with resolution 66/170 in 2011, to raise awareness of the girls’ situation worldwide and recognize the need for empowerment and investment in girls. This year the topic of the IDGC is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

Violence against girls and women is a common phenomenon, observed particularly in states where gender stereotypes persist and sexual and reproductive rights are not fully realized. The region of Central and Eastern Europe, which faces the increase of anti-choice initiatives and legal changes restricting access to information and health services, may serve as such inglorious example.

Globally, around 120 million girls experienced a forced sexual intercourse[1]7 in 10 girls, who experienced physical and/or sexual violence, have never sought help[2]. Almost 30% of adolescent girls in Central and Eastern Europe states that there are reasons for justification of wife-beating[3]32 of every thousand births are unintended adolescent pregnancies[4].

Behind these numbers there are GIRLS, whose lives are affected due to persistent gender inequalities, homophobia, hindering or denying access to reproductive and sexual health service, lack of comprehensive sexuality education and stigmatization of violence survivors.

Experience of violence in private and/or public sphere puts girls’ health and lives at risk. Sexual violence entails serious psychological, physical, emotional and social consequences. It increases the risk of an unintended adolescent pregnancy and exposure to STIs infection, including HIV. Girls are at risk of dropping out of schools and very often are not able to continue education. Common stigma of violence survivors (including violence based on SOGIE) cause alienation of the victim, who doesn’t seek help and has to cope with the consequences alone.

Institutional violence towards girls prevails by blocking their access to sexual and reproductive health package. Still in many states girls cannot access affordable modern contraception and other health care services. Due to age restrictions and/or the need of parental consent when accessing abortion services, girls are denied to make decision on their own.

Comprehensive sexuality education, which is an essential tool to prevent violence, is still unrecognized as a crucial youth right and not implemented in many CEE countries. When introduced at schools in a holistic way, comprehensive sexuality education debunks harmful gender and homophobic stereotypes, promotes gender equality and empowers girls with communication skills helpful in protection from violence. It gives knowledge on reproductive and sexual health. CSE gives crucial information and skills, which enable to counteract violence and contribute to just and equal society.

Investment in girls, which is one of this year’s IDGC messages, means that basic steps such as the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls must be undertaken. Unless governments and key decision-makers ensure the access to comprehensive information and services on one’s health as well as support for violence victims, girls' lives won’t change.

 

[1],[2],[3] UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, 2014.

Retrieved October 2014 at: http://files.unicef.org/publications/files/Hidden_in_plain_sight_statistical_analysis_EN_3_Sept_2014.pdf

[4] UNFPA, Focusing on Adolescents and Youth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,2014.

Retrieved October 2014 at: http://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA_EuroAsia_Factsheet_20140902.pdf

Central and Eastern Europe: somewhere between the Global South and Global North

Considering Central and Eastern Europe region (CEE) as a part of the Global South might at first appear as a surprise. To reflect on this we may have to take a closer look at the context of this area. The political and economic transformation which took place over 20 years ago still remains influential and CEE is sometimes even referred to as a “Non-Region” as it is situated somewhere between the developed and developing countries. This also leads to marginalization of this region in the global Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights agenda – CEE is hardly present in the ICPD beyond 2014 process.

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10 Days of Activism 2012

“Nothing For Us Without Us”
Young people raise their voices and stand up for their rights


With half of the world’s population under the age of 25, young people from all around the world are coming together to influence their governments, organizations and community leaders to accept and engage young people as meaningful partners in the decision making bodies and processes that affect their sexual and reproductıve health and rights. Under the theme “Nothing for Us Without Us”, Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network) in partnership with organizations and individuals from around the globe working with young people is launching the third annual “10 Days of Activisim” (10 DoA) campaign from 1st to 10th September, 2012.

ASTRA Youth is an official partner of this global campaign. 

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Let's not talk about sex

Sexuality education in Central and Eastern Europe

Sexuality education as a comprehensive, science based and ideology free subject has not yet made it to the schools in Central and Eastern Europe. The region, which is now over 20 years after a major political transition from communism to democracy, still neglects young people’s right to knowledge on sexual and reproductive health.

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