3 Questions

Sanne Thijssen

Sanne Thijssen is the Sexual and Reproductive and Health Rights (SRHR) Youth ambassador of the Netherlands. Since September 2016, she is raising the voice of youth, to ensure better access to SRHR information and services. We talked to Sanne about her work and views.


What do you like most about your work as a youth ambassador SRHR? What is the greatest challenge in your work?

“Being able to highlight and advocate for more engagement and support of these youth and SRHR programmes and initiatives in unique spaces is equally thrilling. This can be challenging some times as often times there are situations in which I am one of the few young people (or sometimes the only young person) in the room, from foreign government officials to UN meetings in New York or Geneva. It can sometimes be challenging, as young people are not often viewed as equal partners with valuable input. Nevertheless, it is a challenge I look forward to taking on and I hope my role will pave the way for more meaningful youth engagement in these spaces.”


Why is it important to have a Youth Ambassador SRHR? How can you reach other young people?

“My role as a youth ambassador,  shows the clear commitment of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invest in both youth and SRHR as well as meaningful youth participation. It is the only role world-wide of it’s kind and it serves as an important example that it is important to engage and involve young people on issue that affect their  health, lives and future prospects. Whether it is in designing SRHR programmes or making policies: young people face unique challenges and can pinpoint their needs best. In my role, I have been working together with youth-led organisations worldwide, to emphasise the need for engaging young people as key stakeholders. Being able to meet and collaborate with strong advocates and organisations that are leading positive change on SRHR worldwide -whether it be at the local, national or international level – it is always inspiring and motivating, particularly given the current challenges in the field.”



What do you think are the most important issues in improving young people’s SRHR and how can they be addressed?

“During my term I have been a strong advocate for improving SRHR in humanitarian settings, as SRHR is often overlooked in many of the humanitarian situations we see due to natural disasters or man-made events. Improving SRHR in these situations, contributes to health, wealth , security and stability. Furthermore, I believe that investing in youth-friendly services, can improve young people’s access to information and services, which one of the major challenges in the field of SRHR and youth. I believe, that by investing in these fields and involving young people in the development of programmes and policies in these areas, these issues can be adequately addressed.

My wish for the future is that young people everywhere are empowered and supported to have full control of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We are on track, but more progress needs to be made. I believe that in this process everyone – policymakers and CSOs alike –  has a role to play and a benefit to gain.”


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