The AHAIC 2107 Youth Preconference was held from March 5-6, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi. The platform brought together Youth who make up 65% of Africa population to strengthen their skills and ability to contribute to SDGs and other regional commitments that target their health. Young people from Africa had an opportunity to learn from each other and form networks and coalitions to enhance accountability on youth health.
The key messages highlighted are that young people:
• Must be at the centre of development.
• Should be empowered to know the SDGs and be actively involved in implementation and accountability processes.
• Need to be aware and engaged in accountability processes
• Face similar cases and challenges in Africa from which we can draw best
practices as a continent and enhance learning between countries.
• There is a wide gap between availability of information on SRHR and implementation which needs to be bridged
• There is a gap in understanding of youth by policy makers.
ESA Commitment and Accountability Feedback
There needs to be integration of more stakeholders eg parents, youth in designing and implementation of CSE policies.
• To have age appropriate CSE, from childhood, to allow young people to make their own informed decisions.
• Civil Society needs to redefine advocacy processes to ensure the youth voice is heard.
• Young people need to hold leaders and themselves more accountable
• There needs to be accountability mechanisms that will ensure effective implementation.
• There is need to clarify what CSE means, because the word Sexuality tends to make people more resistant.
• Civil Society needs to reassess their take on CSE issues.
• Civil Society and Youth networks should up their efforts on advocating for CSE issues.
• There needs to be research to support advocacy efforts on CSE.
• Content and messaging related to CSE need to be clearly and well thought out to have all relevant in the conversation.
AHAIC 2017 Youth Pre Conference Communiqué
We the young people noted that:
• We are a majority comprising 65% of Africa’s population.
• We have unique problems including vulnerability to SRH problems, HIV infection, sexual and gender based violence including FGM, early marriage and exclusion from economic activities among others.
• There are many commitments made at national, regional and global levels on the youth to mitigate problems that youth have and ensure a better future for them. These include AU youth agenda, ESA commitments and SDGs.
• These commitments are rarely backed by action at country level. This has led to a slow process in achieving results for young people.
We the young people have therefore come to a consensus. We:
1. Agree that being the majority of those affected by a number of issues on which commitments are being made, have to be effectively involved in decision making including participation in the implementation of the commitments. Nothing for us without us.
2. Call for our right to access information, especially sexual and reproductive health information through comprehensive sexuality education in schools;
3. Condemn and call for an end to sexual and gender based violence including those sanctioned by culture such as FGM.
4. Calls on governments to increase budget allocation to enable accessible youth-friendly health services including investment in HIV prevention and care for young people
We call on governments, development partners and fellow youth in Africa as follows:
i) African governments to :
• Issue an official statement on ESA and AU commitments, sign them and implement them in their countries;
• Implement policies that are youth-centred and include youth as accountability partners so as to harness the demographic dividend;
• Implement youth-led Comprehensive Sexuality Education as a government policy in all educational institutions;
• Increase budgetary allocation and prioritization of resources towards improving health for young people.
ii) Development Partners to:
• Increase the involvement of youth in all stages of program and policy making from designing, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.
This will allow youth to fully explore their potential and innovation;
• Advocate for sustainable, accessible and affordable youth friendly services;
• Form synergy in coordinating sustainable youth programs.
iii) Fellow youth to:
• Get up, be innovative and take initiative because you are never too young or too small to make a change;
• Claim what is youth specific and sensitize other youth in communities on policies
• Bridge the gap; it is not us against them, make adult allies!
• Be accountable as young people to ourselves
To download the 2017 Communique, click here.