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Advancing Access to Youth-Friendly SRH Services and Information

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Martin Wanzala, Allied Youth Initiative (Uganda)

I personally believe that a country’s youth population is one of its greatest assets. However, to harness our young people’s vibrant ideas and potential, we must give them opportunities to leave a lasting impact on our communities and nations.

Young people under the age of 30 account for more than half of the world’s 7 billion people. In Uganda – the second youngest population in the world – more than 78 percent of the population is under the age of 30. The time is now for Uganda to increase investments in its young people.

One of the best ways to ensure that young people can lead healthy and productive lives is improve access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Although the government of Uganda and its development partners support sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs and policies, there are still not enough services to support widespread need. Read more...

Sustainable Development Depends on Ensuring Access to Young People’s SRHR

By: Tunde Ajidagba, Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the post-2015 agenda because is their fundamental human right. It encompasses the right of all individuals to make decisions concerning their sexual activity and reproduction, free from all discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to SRHR ensures individuals are able to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and services to do so.

As we celebrate International Youth Day, even though the global community has made major strides in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes since the International Conference and Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, it is important to remember that millions of people, mostly adolescents, still lack access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. Read more...

Now Is the Time to Include the Voices of Young People

By: Mallah Tabot, United Vision (Cameroon)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda because we can’t wait afford to wait any longer. In 2014, it is a shame that young people have limited or no control over their sexual health. It is a shame that SRHR services are still managed as a luxury item for the 99%, while basic education on sexual health and rights don’t have a place in our educational system. And, why should the decision to have or not have a child be left in the hands of fate or chance or luck instead of choice?

Working in a small rural community in southwest Cameroon, I have seen the stark realities of the lack of education and access to SRHR by young people. My interaction with the small village of Eshobi has exposed me to horrific realities of girls and women’s health - the conditions under which thousands of young girls are forced to live in - because SRHR and comprehensive sexuality education in our educational system is not a priority for our politicians. Read more...

Why Do Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Matter for Young People in the Post-2015 Agenda?

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

Today, adolescents constitute about half of the world’s population – more than ever before. Worldwide, the number of adolescents is estimated at 1.1 billion, with 85% of them living in developing countries. Half of these young people will have sexual intercourse by the time they reach the age of 16 and most of them by the time they are 20.

There is a high incidence of unwanted pregnancies in many developing countries. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that out of the 200 million pregnancies that occur each year, about 80 million are unwanted. It has been estimated that about 10% of all pregnancies each year occur among teenagers. Most of these pregnancies are either unwanted or unintended. Often times, adolescents are forced to resort to clandestine, and usually unsafe, abortion methods to terminate these pregnancies. Read more...

Too Frequently, Too Many, Too Young: Preventing Adolescent Girls Mortality

By: Felogene Anumo, FEMNET

On 11th August 2014, my beautiful daughter, Zhane Lindiwe, turns exactly 11 months old. Needless to say, she is a huge blessing in my life. However, as I thank God each and every morning for her, I am cognizant of the fact that every day many young women and girls find themselves carrying a pregnancy that they neither planned nor hoped for. This may result in feelings of regret, hopelessness, and loss of opportunities. But worse still, is the high number of young women and girls who die while looking for a way out of their situation by seeking an unsafe abortion. Other brave girls, despite the negative feelings associated with an unwanted pregnancy, forge ahead for nine months only to lose their lives during childbirth since their bodies are not ready for parenthood. Read more...

We Asked, And You Delivered: Inspiring Actions #SinceWD2013

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver 

As the Women Deliver 2013 Conference came to a close last May, we called on our participants to take one great idea they heard during our conference and turn that idea into an inspired action. By making this ask, we hoped each and every attendee – policymakers, activists, media and young people alike – would transform their experiences into concrete actions at home. And they did.

This spring, we followed up with conference participants to find out what’s been keeping them busy #SinceWD20123, and how our conference has inspired their work. We were blown away by the responses from partners in countries from around the globe  – all dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women. Some of the most inspiring developments brought about by Women Deliver 2013 include: Read more...

Closing the Gap in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Education

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

My dream for the future is to live in a society where young people and other marginalised groups have full access to sexual and reproductive health services irrespective of their age, gender and ethnicity. As a girl growing up in Nigeria, I noticed that it was often difficult for young people – and young girls in particular – to access sexual and reproductive health education and care. It’s a reality I’ve always wanted to change.

In my experience, barriers to information and services were often a result of cultural practises or religious beliefs that undermined the right of women and girls in patriarchal environments. In some cultures, it is a general belief that young girls are expected to maintain self-pity, and therefore any attempt to seek sexual and reproductive health information or services is often considered taboo or unacceptable. I’ve always wondered: why do some cultures allow young boys, but not girls, to express their sexual desires without any reprimand? Read more...

Saving Lives: How Text Messaging Can Improve Access to Family Planning

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

I have a dream! I dream of a world where young women have information about and can access affordable and youth-friendly family planning services. I imagine family planning services being viewed as precious commodities, penetrating the hardest-to-reach markets effectively and consistently just like ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola.

When adolescent girls don't have access to information about their sexuality, or to condoms and other contraceptive methods, the impact is intensely personal — an unplanned pregnancy, HIV or sexually-transmitted disease infection, or injury in an unsafe relationship — but the sum of these individual experiences are catastrophic for communities and for countries. Pregnancy-related deaths are a leading cause of mortality for girls aged 15-19 years-old in low-and middle-income countries.

In Tanzania, young people are at an elevated risk of experiencing sexual and reproductive health problems. The adolescent childbearing rates in Tanzania are among the highest in East Africa, where, by no coincidence, young people also have the highest unmet need for contraception. Investing in the health of adolescent girls is not only the right thing to do, but will also have a lasting impact on Tanzania’s economic and social development. Read more...

 

Evaluating Women Deliver: A Look Back and a Plan for the Future

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

With the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline rapidly approaching, the global community is taking stock of the tremendous progress we’ve made toward improving girls’ and women’s lives around the world and the challenges that remain. At Women Deliver, we too are taking advantage of this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we can do better to make a real and lasting impact for girls and women everywhere. 

Earlier this year, Women Deliver underwent an external, independent impact evaluation to 1) determine Women Deliver’s contributions to increasing visibility and awareness around girls’ and women’s health, and 2) inform a new strategic plan that will guide Women Deliver’s future programs. Our evaluators conducted a materials review, a media analysis, a survey of over 500 Women Deliver supporters, and interviews with almost 100 staff, board members and influential stakeholders in our field.

We are thankful to everyone who participated in this incredibly valuable project. We could not be more thrilled with the outcomes, and we are happy to share some of the findings. Read more...

Study Shows that Laws Act as Barrier to Young People Getting Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

New research published today highlights how the law in different countries often restricts young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.

PRESS RELEASE: A series of reports by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) also found that taboos and stigma related to young people’s sexuality are often made worse by restrictive laws.

The series called ‘Over-protected and Under-served: A multi-country study on legal barriers to young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services’  provides a global overview of laws relating to consent, sexual expression, equality and violence.

It looks at three case studies in the UK, Senegal and El Salvador – and explores how young people’s knowledge and perceptions of the law impact their access to sexual and reproductive health services.Findings from all three countries highlight young people’s uncertainty and confusion about whether they have the right to access SRH services: Read more...

Girls, Adolescents and Youth: Heard. Involved. Engaged.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea and Sumaya Saluja, Global Education First Initiative 

The 3rd PMNCH Partners' Forum is over, yet the commitments that have been made prevail. Young people present at the forum were critical, active, and brought attention to key issues affecting adolescents and youth around the world. During the youth pre-meeting, we worked collectively to shape an outcome document, which clearly outlines specific priorities for adolescents and young people in the definition of the post-2015 agenda. During the two days that followed, we advocated to leverage political commitment and accountability.

Investing in adolescents and youth as agents of change pays. Investing in these populations ensures we will be able to reach other young people and provide a better future for the generations to come. Turning the tide on poverty, violence, discrimination and inequality requires young people to be heard, involved and engaged.

Read more...

Young People: Our Present and Our Future

By: Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

Nelson Mandela once said: "Whenever I am with young people, I feel like a recharged battery." I couldn't agree more, after having spent the last couple of days with a good bunch of the Women Deliver Young Leaders at the Partnership on Maternal, Child and Newborn Health (PMNCH) Partners' Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

When young people tell me what motivated them to advocate for girls' and women's health and rights, their stories are at once heartbreaking and inspiring. For Yemurai Nyoni in Zimbabwe, it was a 12-year-old girl named Tecla who was sold into marriage and contracted HIV. For Mary Mwende in Kenya, it was the violence of male-dominated politics that she witnessed as a child in the slums of Mombasa. When faced with injustice, these young leaders took action to improve the world around them -- and their stories, in turn, inspire others. Read more...

It’s All Possible: We Have the Solution in Our Hands!

By: Martin E. Wanzala, 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. Read more...

Let’s Go Deeper into Remote Areas for the Post-2015 Development Goals

By: Mary Mwende, Kenya

The first day of the PMNCH Partners’ Forum was an exciting one. I have listened to all of the sessions with keen interest. The forum is a fountain of knowledge and information, with every sentiment converging at the same point. The unity of thought clamors for one common goal - to create a better and healthier world for mothers and newborns around the world, particularly for those who are most vulnerable and impoverished.

I agree with all of this and hope it will be achieved.

As we discussed during the youth pre-forum yesterday, there is a lot left to achieve when it comes to Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. More young people have to be meaningfully involved to continue making progress. A drive to create change among youth must be led by the young! Regrettably, the most afflicted youth - particularly girls - are seldom involved in these conversations. Read more...

Young People Engage in a New Challenge – Everybody Counts

By: Gonzalo Nicolas Infante Grandon, Chile

It was with great momentum that the PMNCH Partner’s Forum began yesterday in Johannesburg, kicking off with a Youth Pre-Forum and NGO constituency meetings.  This year, unlike other years, young people are part of the discussions and contributions fostered by the forum.

With 500 days left to reach the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we must go further - with more decisiveness, more strength, and more passion – to accelerate progress in this last push and achieve a better future. Beyond the act of deliberating upcoming policies, we must evaluate the strategies and practices that have already been implemented. We must deepen our understanding and rectify our errors. As we do this, it is worth asking: How have young people been involved? Has it has been enough? Read more...

Be seen! Be heard! Youth at the 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum

By: Yemurai Nyoni and Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

This 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum is the first large-scale involvement of young people to date. Out of the approximately 1000 participants here in Johannesburg, nearly 10% are youth representatives under 30. This is a great start, and a clear opportunity to increase meaningful youth engagement in the forum and others like it. Will PMNCH consider including a youth constituency to its other seven constituencies while mainstreaming youth within and throughout? We really hope so.

Partners’ Forum representatives come together from governments, civil society, development agencies, private sector, and the media to deliberate on how best to accelerate progress for women, children and adolescents in the context of RMNCH. Youth representatives are uniquely positioned to put our issues front and center, and to magnify our contributions to advancing maternal and newborn health. Read more...

The World’s Biggest Problem: Young People

By: Denise Dunning; Originally posted by Huffington Post

Denise Dunning is the Founder and Executive Director, Let Girls Lead, Champions For Change, and the Youth Champions Initiative

The world seems to keep getting worse -- every day, the news tells us shocking stories of violence, brutality and war. And the truth is, we often blame young people for these seemingly insurmountable challenges. We blame terrorism on the unemployed young men who become radicalized extremists. We blame poverty on the uneducated young women who become pregnant and give birth to babies they can't afford.

If you believe the news, the world's biggest problem is young people. There are currently over 1.8 billion young people in the world, with 88 percent of all adolescents living in poor countries (UNICEF 2012). Too many of these young men and women are uneducated, unemployed, and unable to access basic health services and information.

The world's biggest problem certainly is young people, but not in the way you might think. The world's biggest problem is this -- we as a global community have failed to provide young people with the basic tools and resources they need to thrive, much less create a better world. Read more...

 

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