Despite the progress made in improving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), youth worldwide are still vulnerable to poor SRHR outcomes.
Many young people lack access to comprehensive SRHR information, education and services, severely limiting their ability to make informed SRHR decisions, protect their health and stand up for their rights. With over 1.8 billion young people (aged 10-25) living in the world today, addressing their (sexual) health and wellbeing has profound educational and economic benefits.
Hierarchical and conservative ideas about young people’s autonomy and right to make decisions about their (sexual) lives, restrict young people’s SRHR, and means their voices go unheard. Socio-cultural norms and values subordinate girls and women and limit their active participation in public life. This impacts their reproductive rights, including access to contraception, safe and legal abortion, and sexual rights. These values also influence men and boys. Engaging men and boys is essential for improving SRHR, preventing HIV and AIDS and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In addition, specific vulnerable groups, such as young lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT), young people living with HIV (YPLHIV), disabled youth, out-of-school youth and young people living in remote rural or high-density urban settings, require targeted and contextualised approaches that address their specific needs and realities.
All young people, especially girls and young women, are empowered to realise their SRHR in societies that are positive towards young people’s sexuality.
- Strengthen and sustaine alliances
- Empower young people to voice their rights
- Increase use of SRHR information and education
- Increase use of youth-friendly SRHR services
- Improve socio-cultural and legal environment
Get Up, Speak Out: For Youth Rights (GUSO) is a joint programme developed by the SRHR Alliance (Rutgers (lead), CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, Dance4life, Simavi, Stop AIDS Now!, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)).
Together we aim to improve the poor sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in 7 countries by strengthening civil society organisations to effectively address young people’s rights and needs.
The programme’s Theory of Change (ToC) builds on the successes and experience of the SRHR Alliance’s members in the ASK and UFBR programmes. Through one overarching strategy , the multi-component approach, the operationalisation of GUSO’s core principles (meaningful youth participation, inclusiveness, positive rights based approach, gender transformative programming and sustainability), and the five interrelated outcomes, the programme will contribute towards the long term objective.
The Alliance’s unique added value is its joint ability to address the multitude of factors and actors influencing young people’s SRHR by using a multi-component approach. A multicomponent approach can enhance synergy between creating demand through education, supply by service provision, and support through an enabling environment. Using our individual and joint expertise, we can successfully link: (1) the provision of sexuality education and information; (2) the provision of quality, youth-friendly SRH services; (3) building support for youth SRHR, by addressing socio-cultural and political barriers in terms of practices, norms and policies.
Positive rights based approach
The GUSO Alliance works with a Rights Based Approach (RBA), and follows the declaration of sexual rights. RBA principles like non-discrimination, participation, equality, addressing root causes and accountability are reflected in the GUSO core principles of inclusion, meaningful youth participation, the gender transformative approach, the multi-component approach and sustainability.
A positive approach to sexuality celebrates sexuality as life-enhancing and support individuals to have fulfilling and ideal sexual experiences, rather than solely working to prevent negative experiences. Sex-positive approaches address risks and concerns associated with sexuality without reinforcing fear, shame or taboo.
Gender transformative programming
For the last few decades girls and (young) women have been the main focus of SRHR interventions (e.g. the focus on (teenage) pregnancy and family planning, gender based violence, prevention of mother- to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) etc.). This, despite the common understanding in international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals, that due to the relational and power dynamics of gender relations, boys and (young) men are crucial partners in effectively addressing girls’ and women’s SRHR issues. Without addressing harmful gender norms and structures within the patriarchal system it might be difficult to challenge processes and institutions that limit or negatively influence women’s sexual and reproductive health and access to SRH services and information.
Gender-transformative approaches seek to reshape gender relations to be more gender equitable, largely through approaches that free both women and men from the impact of destructive gender and sexual norms.
Simavi specific activities
In-country capacity will be developed through targeted trainings on relevant issues, including strengthening governance and resource mobilisation.
- We will build the capacity of CSOs and other relevant stakeholders to provide quality SRHR information using diverse communication channels in informal settings to fit the specific needs of different target groups. We will also strengthen referral systems between SRHR information and services.
- We will invest in capacity building of service providers, peer educators and health institutions in youth-friendly service provision. We will encourage service providers to use a variety of delivery mechanisms (outreach, peer provision, helplines, e & m Health) to ensure services meet the needs of all young people.
- We will scale-up social accountability systems that actively involve young people
and communities in quality monitoring of health services and (multi-stakeholder) dialogue for improvement.
- We will work closely with our partners to ensure collective evidence-based advocacy to influence the development, implementation and adaption of SRHR policies and laws at local level and national level.
- We will build public support for SRHR with awareness raising campaigns. SRHR community-awareness activities providing information on youth SRHR, including a specific focus on involving men and religious/traditional leaders, will break taboos and enhance community support.
The GUSO programme is in its final year in 2020. Activities are ongoing with our various partners.
Some key results are:
# service providers who have been trained in Youth Friendly Services (target 2018: 920, realisation 2018: 1,284)
# SRH services provided to young people (target 2018: 398,760, realisation 2018: 575,564)
# young people reached with (comprehensive) SRHR information and education (target 2018: 299,061, realisation 2018: 476,802)