Rocking Malaysia!

Y-SNAP in Malaysia recently got a chance to conduct capacity building in national level. 19 young people from all around Malaysia came and learn about SRHR for five days!

a lot of things discussed and all of them were agreed that youth participation is a must to ensure that the access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly services are widely available.

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Family planning; addressing the gaps for young people

Last week, on 11 July 2012 the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with UNFPA and IPPF has conducted the Family Planning summit in London. This event is one of the milestones to bring the world’s attention toward family planning agenda worldwide. At the end of the summit, governments, private foundations, NGOs, and medical companies will be mobilized to support the commitment made from this summit. Global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery will support commitment to fulfill the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020.

It is clear that once a country has a family planning program that is rights-based, it can help prevent more young girls from having unplanned pregnancies and also from dying in childbirth. These features contributed in reducing the number of Maternal Mortality Rate and provide a greater chance for young women to continue education.

However, few gaps in providing family planning services for young people should be addressed. One thing for sure, when it comes to the term “family planning” it would be hard for young people, particularly unmarried young people to access family planning services. The access of family planning might be widely available, but this has to be inclusive with the principle of youth friendly services.

Aside from providing contraceptives, family planning services should include access to safe abortion where it is legal. Integrating access to safe abortion would save millions of women’s life. As in 2008, there was an estimation of 10.8 million unsafe abortions in Asia (Advocates for youth, 2011).

When a government wants to integrate family planning access into their health system, it must emphasize on voluntary family planning. Experiences from Indonesia a few decades ago on forced family planning and one child policy in China should be a lesson learned on how family planning being misused by the government as a means to violate reproductive rights in the name of controlling the population size.

Above it all, family planning program must respect the sexual and reproductive rights of young people especially young women. Family planning should be promoted as voluntary and accessible to young women regardless of their marriage status. In the end, all young women must be able to make informed decision and empowered to decide whether or not, how and when, to have children.

Y-SNAP in Cambodia!

On the last 22nd – 23rd May 2012, Y-SNAP was organizing Capacity Building on Sexual Rights and Youth Mobilization along with Youth peer educator in RHAC – Reproductive Health Association Cambodia. 15 peer educators from Phnom Penh were attending this workshop.

A lot of topics on Sexual rights such as access to safe abortion, same-sex marriages, forced marriages, comprehensive sexuality education, and HIV and AIDS were discussed and participants were divided into groups and they should defend their arguments. Topics on advocacy in regional and international level were also discussed and we were mapping advocacy venue that can be used for strengthening young people’s voices.

At the end of this workshop, we were decided to form RHAC Youth Network. This youth network are intended to facilitate youth peer educator in RHAC to share their works, experience, and more importantly to advocate for young people’s access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly Services in Cambodia.

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Building dialogue on young people’s rights to health in Melaka

Written by Loo Pei Shan

The Melaka International Youth Dialogue (MIYD) is an annual programme of the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) which brings together young people and youth leaders from around the world to discuss relevant youth issues. This year, the 12th Melaka International Youth Dialogue on “Health, It’s My Right!” was held on 28-30 June at Puteri Resort, Melaka, Malaysia.

More than 190 youths and youth leaders from 38 countries around the world participated in this dialogue. It was indeed a great opportunity for youths from different backgrounds in making important recommendations that can facilitate national youth councils, youth organizations, public and private sector, and global communities at large to empower youth on their rights to health.

Two IPPF attendees, Rinaldi Ridwan (Youth Intern, IPPF ESEAOR) and Loo Pei Shan (Intern, IPPF ESEAOR) participated in the 12th MIYD with the objectives to promote the work of IPPF ESEAOR in this region to other youth organisations from non-SRHR community, to expand and build network with non-SRHR community and upscale IPPF works in promoting access to SRH for all, to mainstream and influence the issue of young people’s SRHR within the dialogue and to identify partner for future cooperation by involving young people from IPPF ESEAOR.

IPPF booth was set up for the event with the purpose to increase awareness amongst participants on the SRHR through IPPF’s publication materials and souvenirs.  The response to the exhibition was good throughout the event. A number of participants even expressed their interest and concern on SRH issues.

The 12th MIYD was kick started with the Opening Ceremony. It was then continued with three plenary sessions; stakeholders’ perspective towards youth health; effects of social health on young people; and the challenges that young people face in this era.

Presentations from government representative bodies, academicians, youth organizations, NGOs and private sectors aimed to empower the youth on healthy living in different perspectives. Youth

representative, Rinaldi Ridwan from IPPF ESEAOR was invited to give a presentation on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly Services in Asia Pacific. The response to the presentation was good as different questions regarding to SRH were asked by participants during the question and answer session.

The day ended with the official dinner hosted by the Mayor of the Melaka Historical City Council which included cultural and musical performances.

The second day started with the workshop on the topic of “The role of public and private sectors, NGOs, media, society on youth health”. An interactive discussion on this topic was formed to share and brainstorm the idea of rights in the different levels of society. Later the list of recommendations was prioritized to come up with a declaration

Last day started with the reading of the draft declaration which was later adopted for implementation. Participants were later taken to educational field trips to medical schools and hospitals. It is hoped that the gain of experience to practical medical environments can enhance the already acquired knowledge on health among the youths.

 The closing ceremony with a dinner and celebrations (by the dignitaries, participants, organizers and volunteers) brought the 12th MIYD to a conclusion.

Overall, it is a valuable experience for IPPF in participating in event with non-SRHR community and how SRHR be perceived as a set of idea. It is important to reach allies from non SRHR community to make the work more visible and be accepted in other movement.

Sex education helps young people make better choices

This article is originally published in The Guardian young people’s sexual health matters

Norhidayah Nadila, of Melaka in Malaysia, describes the impact of peer to peer education

In my society, the word “sexuality” is very sensitive.

We don’t discuss sexuality with the elders because they may think it’s not the right time yet.

I once asked my mother why sexuality and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues aren’t discussed. She told me that when she was younger, these issues were not discussed because people were ashamed; she was told she would learn by herself when she was grown up or married. That’s Asian culture, we hide in our shells when it comes to this topic.

I’m a 22-year-old girl, if I had any problem regarding SRH I would not turn to my parents because I feel ashamed and uncomfortable to talk about it. I would search for my friends to talk to.

Other young people might have the same problem and feel uncomfortable to talk about it with their parents. That’s why peer to peer education works. A peer educator is also a normal person who going through the same things as the normal teenager, so its not a problem to discuss about matters of SRH.

I became a peer educator in 2009 because I just wanted to spend my time doing something beneficial. I’m a youth co-ordinator, peer educator and facilitator for IPPF; I’ve been involved in talks, exhibitions, outreach activities in schools, juvenile institutions, higher institutions, shopping malls and public places, and worked on an outreach programme on HIV/Aids related activities funded by Malaysia’s ministry of health.

All of these projects advocate and provide education, promote a positive approach to young people’s sexuality and promote a non-presciptive, evidence-based and rights-based approach. These projects reach young people with diverse needs and sexual orientations.

Throughout out these projects, I have seen many young people still lacking knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and HIV/Aids.

When I think about what I have done, I remember that I have helped someone attain new and acccurate knowledge.

Whenever we finish a workshop, participants will ask me or my team members questions they have kept to themselves for a long time because they felt ashamed or uncomfortable to discuss them with an adult.

When you see someone asking questions or taking notes during a lecture, you are grateful because they are actually listening to us, to what we want to deliver.

By giving young people sex education, we can help them to make better decisions in the future. Some policymakers might think these issues are very sensitive and should not be discussed in public, but you cannot hide from them.

Take for an example, baby dumping. Why is this happening? This is because young people are not educated on how to handle the situation. They were not taught how to use emergency pills or condoms and when they get pregnant, they do not know where to turn for help. We cannot stop young people having sexual intercourse, but we can help by giving them choices.