For YSAFE advocacy is a means to have youth voices heard and to contribute to the world young people want and need. YSAFE has been involved in a number of initiatives and events during which members put SRHR on the agenda. Here is a sample of some of YSAFE’s achievements.
The Estrela Report on SRHR
In October and December 2013, the European Parliament voted on the Estrela Report. The Estrela report asked the European Union (EU) member states to support the health and rights of young people and women. This included comprehensive sexuality education for young people; non-discrimination of LGBTI people; and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). The report also called for sufficient funding for SRHR in developing countries.
YSAFE coordinated two Tweetathons and engaged with youth activists and many Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). YSAFE was very visible on social media and our Prezi was widely shared by other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and MEPs and has been watched 1200 times.
The report unfortunately was not adopted by the European Parliament. It was a very tight vote – only seven votes difference (327 vs. 334). Consensus was found on the subsidiarity principle which establishes the competence of the Member States to act on SRHR. This alternative resolution, put forward by the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), reaffirms the current legal framework and underlines that it falls under the EU member states’ competences to implement policies on SRHR and fulfil the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda.
It was a disappointment that the European Parliament failed to seize this chance to set out a firm position in support of SRHR. A lot of liberal MEPs are saying that the European citizens now have a clear view on who stands for SRHR in Europe, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2014. YSAFE will continue to follow and work on the promotion of SRHR within the EU jointly with other youth organisations and IPPF European Network.
ICPD beyond 2014
In 1994, the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was held in Cairo. ICPD was a milestone in the history of population and development as well as in the history of women’s rights. The Programme of Action (PoA) adopted at the ICPD established a firm link between population, development and human rights, health and gender equality. As the 20-year deadline for achieving the ICPD goals approaches, a global review process has started to measure progress on the commitments made by 179 states in the Programme of Action (PoA) agreed to.
The end of the Millennium Development Goals – what will happen post-2015?
In 2000, 189 countries agreed on eight development goals which became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to guide global action. Progress has been made on many of the MDG targets, but others are lagging behind, particularly the health and gender goals. Target 5b (universal access to reproductive health) was only added to the MDGs in 2007. As we near the completion date of the MDG in 2015, the United Nations has started a consultation process to identify a new UN development agenda post-2015.
The ICPD beyond 2014 consultation process is identified as a source for setting key priorities in the Post-2015 UN development agenda. The two processes are therefore closely interlinked. The below chart provides a picture of how both consultation processes feed in to each other:
YSAFE takes active part in both the ICPD beyond 2014 and the post-2015 processes. YSAFE was part of the ICPD review in the UNECE region, comprising Europe, Central Asia and North America as well as part of the global level Youth Forum organized in Bali in February 2012.
Preparatory Regional Youth Forum for the ICPD review in the UNECE region – May 2013
Young people play an important role in advancing the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) as well as in delivering its objectives by implementing activities on the ground.
In May 2013, 40 youth delegates from North America, Europe and Central Asia gathered in Istanbul for a Regional Youth Forum. The Regional Youth Forum was divided into three thematic sessions, one on Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development, one on Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course and one on Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights. YSAFE, as part of the Regional Youth Leadership Group, facilitated the session on Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course. The major themes within the session were the diversity of family and challenges in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The three thematic sessions culminated in a Youth Call to Action which built upon the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration (see more under Post2015). It identified new and emerging issues facing today’s generation of young people. At its heart, the Youth Call to Action calls for the full integration of a rights-based approach in the development agenda beyond 2015 and the ICPD agenda beyond 2014. The Youth Call to Action, was presented at the Regional Conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century in Geneva (see more information below).
The Youth Call to Action can be found here.
ICPD review in the UNECE Region: Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century – June 2013
Over 300 participants from Central Asia, Europe and North America met in Geneva in July 2013 for the Regional Conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century. The conference was part of the global review of the ICPD agenda and aimed to identify neglected areas and discuss strategies for actions beyond 2014 to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD agenda.
The youth voice was strong at the meeting with fifteen youth delegates present, including YSAFE representatives. In their interventions, young people stated that they are still lacking universal access to non-judgmental and non-discriminatory comprehensive, integrated youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and information. This includes access to safe and legal abortion, the full range of contraceptives including, emergency contraception, and testing and treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Young people lack comprehensive sexuality education as well. A strong focus on marginalized groups, especially young women, girls and young people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities (SOGI) is needed. Marginalised groups are often those who have the least access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, which makes them the most vulnerable to violence and to harmful traditional or cultural practices. Addressing root causes is critical to eliminating stigma, discrimination, violence and inequalities. This can be achieved by adopting a positive approach to sexuality, recognizing young people’s sexual rights, addressing the systematic denial of rights and providing access to justice.
Despite Malta’s intervention at the last minute, both the right to safe abortion and the need for comprehensive sexuality education were included in the final document. You can read the basic elements of the agreement reflected in the chair’s Summary here. You can find the full summary here. For more background documents click here.
Global Youth Forum in Bali – December 2012
In December 2012, a big step was taken in ensuring that young people’s concerns, needs and rights are put on the agenda, when 130 United Nations Member States; 80 youth organisations and networks; 300 individual youth participants; 50 non-governmental organizations; 2,500 online delegates; 40 private sector institutions; 50 representatives of the United Nations; and other stakeholders met at the Global Youth Forum (GYF) in Bali, which was co-hosted by the Government of Indonesia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). For the first time ever young people had a space for setting the agenda of what is important for them – and how priorities need to be set for this to actually happen. YSAFE contributed to the development of the Bali Declaration, which includes 70 recommendations.
First of all, the document recognized that young people have full autonomy over their own bodies, pleasures and desires, emphasizing a positive approach to sexuality. This means that no cultural and religious barriers should prevent access to family planning, safe and legal abortion or other sexual and reproductive health services. While abortion is still illegal in many countries, including some in Europe, the huge coalition of young people in Bali urged governments to decriminalize abortion and ensure safe pre- and post- abortion services for young people.
The declaration puts a strong emphasis on universal access to comprehensive education, including comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), at all levels. CSE should be provided in a non-discriminatory, non-judgmental, rights-based, age appropriate and gender-sensitive way through partnerships between governments, NGOs, private sector and civil society, and through equal partnership with young people in the development, implementation, and evaluation of programmes.
Youth delegates also created a definition of a modern family that is evolving, inclusive and ensures the right of everyone to form a family, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, free from stigma and discrimination. This particular issue affects people in many European countries, who today cannot register their civil partnership or marriage.
An important recommendation is the necessity of involving the most marginalized and vulnerable youth, including people living with HIV and LGBTQI alongside other marginalized groups, in the decision-making processes.
The Bali declaration is a great roadmap for the future with clear priorities, specified by young people, as both Magnhild Bøgseth and Jakub Skrzypczyk, former YSAFE coordinators, write it in their article on the Global Youth Forum in Entre Nous (click here (p. 14)).
“Along with governments taking action, we as young people need to realize the importance of demanding our rights. We must put our foot down and let decision makers know which issues are important for us, and that our rights need to be fulfilled.
We must not take our rights for granted. Yes, we do have them written in a document – and this is an important step for sure. To keep going, we need to make sure that the Bali Declaration is included in ongoing processes. We need to present it to media and decision makers, and we need to make sure they follow up on their commitments and promises. We also need to make sure that the young people that were not at Bali – the people who we as youth delegates were representing – are aware of the result and feel ownership and commitment in taking it forward to their peers and authorities at all levels”.
Please find the Bali Youth Forum Declaration here.
10 Days of Activism
10 Days of Activism is a YPEER annual campaign that engages young people and raises their voice all around the world about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. It aims to strengthen young people’s capacities, at the national level, to advocate for their sexual and reproductive rights among peers and policy makers. YSAFE was a partner in the YPEER campaign in 2012 and 2013.
In 2013, the campaign had the theme “The world we all want”. The campaign was both on national and international level and succeeded in mobilizing communities and partner organizations to advocate for the meaningful involvement of young people in the Post-2015 agenda and addressed the needs of key populations.
For more information on the 10 days of activism click here.