News

Youths Vow to Protect Themselves and Others

22 December 2011
Author: UNFPA
Phakama("Rise,Stand Up"), a theatre troupe in South Africa, educates audiences about HIV and AIDS. Actors shown here perform a scene emphasizing the importance of caregiving to those with virus.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia Young leaders from 38 African countries have pledged to act as role models for their fellow youths by “protecting ourselves, our partners and families from HIV, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, harmful practices and gender-based violence which negatively affect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.”

The young leaders were participating in a three-day training course before the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) this month in Addis Ababa. At the training session, sponsored by UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund and AfriYAN (Africa Youth Network for Population and Adolescent Development), the participants vowed to spur opportunities in their families, at school, in community centres and at reproductive health-care centres to ensure comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. This includes HIV counselling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and access to condoms.

In addition, they said that they would hold governments accountable to their commitments to young people to provide access to comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services and to ensure reproductive health commodity security.

Changing AIDS advocacy in Africa

The youth leaders called on governments to eliminate “all forms of barriers that dictate and often contravene the rights of the youth to sexual and reproductive health, including socio-cultural issues, legal and policy barriers, the cost of reproductive health commodities, inefficient logistical systems for the distribution of reproductive health commodities, inaccessible geographical locations, lack of information and poor communication between youths, their parents and guardians.”

The training also covered various aspects of reproductive health commodity security, including how to achieve results through youth-led advocacy.

In his address, Dr. Akinyele Dairo, UNFPA Africa Region Office Senior Programme and Technical Adviser, highlighted the changes that are taking place in the AIDS movement through youth activism on the continent. He encouraged the assembly to take a broader view of youth-related issues, such as development, investment and employment and, where possible, advance and influence the agenda. Some North African countries, such as Tunisia, are beginning to show interest in continental dialogues and identifying with issues elsewhere in Africa. Therefore, AfriYAN should be prepared to extend such a dialogue. — Adebayo Fayoyin

Ethiopia
Population : 115 mil
Fertility rate
4
Maternal Mortality Ratio
401
Contraceptives prevalence rate
28
Population aged 10-24
33.6%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 31%
Girls 30%

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