By: Wanzala E. Martin, Uganda
As deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda at the 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum here in Johannesburg, South Africa gain momentum, it is a great opportunity for young people to ensure that their voices are heard when and where it matters most.
The post-2015 development discussion is one of the most important debates of our time. The global framework that world leaders agree upon in 2015 will guide all future government policies and spending on social and economic development in both developed and developing countries.
Today, the three billion people under the age of 30 worldwide make up the largest generation of youth in human history. However, 39 percent of new HIV infections occur among 15 to 24 year olds (UNAIDS 2013). More than 16 million adolescent girls give birth every year, and childbirth is one of the top killers of girls ages 15 to 19 (WHO 2012). Far too few young people have access to quality family planning, safe abortion services, and the comprehensive sexuality education they need to live healthy and productive lives.
Therefore, as negotiations between world leaders draw towards a consensus on a new development framework beyond 2015, it is our duty to ensure that the commitments made, especially those pertaining to young people, are matched with the adequate financing required to achieve the goals.
The PMNCH Partners’ Forum, and other spaces like it, provides opportunities for young people, like me, to locate and fulfill the role that we can and must play as key players and problem solvers. Unique opportunities to meet new advocates and potential partners, strengthen existing relationships, and learn new strategies to drive impact at home and globally have been abundant.
So far, we have generated a powerful and unified youth voice on the need to prioritize and invest in young people in the next development agenda. However, to ensure that our voices continue to be heard in the process of designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the new development framework, we need to get more specific with our tasks and demand more accountability from world leaders and ourselves.
The time is now, and the will is present. The next 500 days will be crucial in determining the gains made so far and cultivating upon them. The choices we make now from the opportunities we have will define the present and the future for us and the world. I agree with Denise Dunning of Let Girls Lead that, if supported, we (young people) hold the most powerful solution to our challenges.
Martin is the Co-Founder and Team Leader of the Allied Youth Initiative in Uganda, a youth-led organization that envisions a free and vibrant society where all youth have the opportunity to succeed. He is one of Women Deliver’s 100 Young Leaders and a member of the National Working Committee for Youth & Children on the Post-2015 Agenda in Uganda.
Photo credit: Leanne Gray