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Youth Stand Up Strong at the United Nations

Written By: Audacia Ray
April 3, 2009

 

Yesterday when I posted a link to Susanna’s post about Latina feminist activists demanding that governments meet their demands at the United Nations on Twitter, I got a quick reply from Marina Lacroix and Sara Coumans, who are tweeting for CHOICEforYouth while they are at the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) this week:
choiceforyouth

And they’re right! There are lots of different NGOs that have been working themselves half to death this week in negotiations at the United Nations. Since they are all trying to finish an Agreed Conclusions document today, staff and colleagues of ours have been at the UN until the wee hours the last two nights (past 2 a.m.!) trying to reach compromises and standing up for policy that is important for affirming sexual and reproductive rights and health.

Among these many groups is a strong youth contingent. Choice for Youth, the Youth Coalition, Advocates for Youth, World AIDS Campaign, Action Canada Population, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Elige (Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos), REDLAC (Red Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos A.C.), and MexFam, got together to make an oral statement called “No Youth, No Change,” about youth rights and health at the UN early this week. Here’s a snippet:

    We demand, first of all, to be empowered through comprehensive, evidence informed sexuality education. Knowledge is the only way through which we can free ourselves from ignorance and sometimes harmful traditions. With knowledge we can make informed decisions about having children, marrying or being sexually active.

    Secondly, we claim our right to access to effective family planning services and safe abortion for young people. Without this, we will have insufficient autonomy over our lives, in particular to exercise control over our sexual and reproductive health and rights.

    Thirdly, we claim our right as agreed on in the ICPD PoA [Programme of Action] to be meaningfully involved in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies that touch our lives in the most intimate and direct ways. We are here at the CPD to voice our concerns, needs and openly talk with you.

You can download the PDF of the full statement here.

The Youth Coalition has also put out a longer and more in depth Watchdog Statement, which you can download in full as a PDF here. Here are their recommendations:

    Moving forward
    There are definitely signs that governments and civil society have made progress towards achieving greater meaningful youth participation. However, much remains to be done to mainstream meaningful youth participation and overcome tokenism and exclusivity. The aim is for youth participation to be embedded in all institutions and processes that influence our everyday lives. And in order to do so, we
    urge you to take up some of the following actions:
    To Governments, we recommend:
    − Develop, operationalize, evaluate national youth policies that work towards better addressing the needs of young people, especially our SRH needs
    − Involve young people in policy and programme decision‐making ‐especially in relations to SRH at a national and international level including UN delegations
    − Ensure comprehensive sexuality education for young people in formal and non‐formal learning environments. Young people can only become meaningfully involved with sufficient knowledge.
    − Involve young people in planning youth‐friendly SRH services and in designing sexuality education curricula to meet our needs.

    To Funders, Civil Society and Governments, we recommend:
    − Involve young people when developing strategies for youth participation and deciding the best ways to work with young people
    − Support youth organizations, especially youth‐led organizations, through funding and providing a conducive policy environment that helps develop and sustain youth organizations.
    − Support research on youth issues and youth participation, using participatory research approaches that involve and empower young people;

    Basically, we urge you to work in partnership with young people to build structures, systems, policies, programmes that will secure our health and rights today and for generations to come. Shaping the resolution of this current CPD session, as well as fulfilling commitments to fully implement the ICPD PoA and achieve MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] are critical to do this.

Definitely an inspiring way to finish out the week!

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