More than 50% of people in Africa are under 25 years old. It is predicted that by 2020, 3 out of every 4 people will be 20 years old. These young people are essential to realising the healthy future we envision for the entire continent. To promote youth involvement in the post-2015 development agenda, Simavi organised a special side event together with the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the UN, and the SRHR Alliances of Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. This event focused on the importance of listening to African young people to make Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights policies and services more friendly and accessible for all young people.
African CSOs that we work with in the field presented best practices in meaningfully engaging young people in the development and implementation of SRHR interventions. These approaches included Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Peer Education and Prevention of Child Marriages. The CSOs showed how positive change can happen and discussed the gaps that still need to be addressed in the debate on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Time to listen
Now is the time to listen to the voices of young people and to hear what they think about the SRHR issues they face. This is crucial in ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030) will include an effective and youth-friendly SRHR agenda, as well as making national policies and systems more friendly and accessible for young people – especially amongst marginalised and hard to reach groups.
To make sure youth issues are taken into account in the post-2015 Development Agenda and in the future implementation of national policies and systems, we need to:
- Mobilise a critical mass of young people;
- Hold governments accountable for fulfilling their national and international commitments;
- Invest in ensuring that health data can be disaggregated by age group, especially for young people aged 10 to 14;
- Identify champions at all levels to advance the youth and SRHR agenda.
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