UNFPA Teams Up with MTV Latin America to Highlight Youth Culture and Reproductive Health

One of the MVT panelists being videotaped after the discussion on how culture impacts young people. Photo: UNFPA/Ida Jeng
  • 26 August 2010

LEON, Mexico — “Culture cannot change unless you stand up and say something,” said Thabo Sephuma, a 29-year-old South African who has lived in five different countries and encountered discrimination first-hand. “Having access to basic [reproductive health] services is an issue,” he said.

At a panel discussion at the World Youth Conference today, five panelists from different parts of the world discussed how culture affects their daily lives—especially with regard to key issues, such as their sexual and reproductive health, education and employment.



The panel, titled “Generation of Change—Young People and Culture Dialogue” was moderated by Ilana Sod, a senior correspondent at MTV Latin America and Director of the Agents of Change programme, which encourages artists and young people to take a stand for something they believe in.

“How can we change our culture so that it allows us to pay more attention to HIV prevention?” asked a girl from Brazil. Panelists talked about the need to change teachers’ attitudes towards reproductive health topics, in general, as well as the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Many young people had earlier submitted questions via the interactive blog Conversations for a Better World. When a question that had been submitted asked how young people can find out about their rights, Nazli Moral (27), a UNFPA staff member from the country office in Türkiye answered that advocacy is crucial. She pointed out that UNFPA works with governments to ensure that integrated, comprehensive sexuality education is included in curriculums and also support s peer-information programmes that encourage young people teach each other about reproductive health and gain life-skills that can help them break out of a vicious cycle of poverty, teenage pregnancy, a lack of education and employment.

A member of the audience asked: “With so much disinformation in media and on the internet, how do we know what is true and what is not?” Thabo responded that it is our responsibility to seek information and stay informed so that we do not fall prey to scams and disinformation about issues that are important to our health and our lives in general. “You have to seek information to improve yourself and know what’s happening in your community,” he said.

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