How can we make the outcome of UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) meeting relevant to our work?

This year, one of the most important events related to young people has been held in New York. Perhaps some of you might have known it through our facebook page and twitter update on #CPD2012 about the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) meeting in United Nations headquarter in New York, USA.

CPD session is one of the international avenue that serves as a platform to set policy on sexual and reproductive health and rights. In this year as the theme is “youth and adolescent” it would be very important to monitor government’s commitment toward young people’s rights after making this outcome in national level.

CPD session is important, looking back to the history since its first milestone on International Conference on Population and Development on 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. This conference has been acknowledged as one the most progressive UN conference that changes the dominant paradigm on population and development from population dynamic perspective to rights-based perspective. And also in this conference, reproductive rights have been adopted as a part of human rights that has to be respected.

A lot of resolution for youth and adolescent were made and (controversial) language (sensitive) topics such as adolescent sexuality, sexual rights and reproductive rights, comprehensive sexuality education, access to sexual and reproductive health services, early and forced marriage, and parental rights and responsibilities were negotiated and put into the outcome.

This is the highlight of the resolution from the last 45th CPD session which is considered as victory for Sexual and Reproductive rights activist:

  • Recognize and protect the human rights of adolescents and youth to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, regardless of age and marital status (OP 7).
  • To eliminate harmful practices, including, among others, female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, which are violations of the human rights of women and girls (OP 9)
  • To eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and young women, to remove all obstacles to gender equality, to promote the empowerment of girls and young women in all aspects of youth development, and to encourage boys and young men to participate fully in all actions toward gender equality (OP 16)
  • To promote positive male role models and programmes for boys to become gender-sensitive adults; and to enable men to support, promote and respect women’s sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights (OP 17)
  • To provide youth friendly services that respect young people’s privacy and confidentiality and remove legal, regulatory and social barriers to reproductive health information and care for adolescents (OP 25).
  • Provide young people with sexuality education (agreed language: evidence-based and comprehensive education on human sexuality, on sexual and reproductive health, human rights, and gender equality) (OP 26).
  • To increase and strengthen services for sexual and reproductive health including safe abortion where legal, family planning, STI, and HIV  (OP 27).
  • Promote gender equality and the empowerment of girls and young women in all aspects of youth development (PP 13)
  • Recognition of early and forced marriage and forced sexual relationships as violating adolescent and young girls ; human rights (PP 14)
  • Provide contraceptive access for women living with HIV and AIDS (PP17).
  • Effective youth participationto actively support and invest in increased participation of young people and in youth-led and youth-focused organizations(OP 31, 32).


Read the full outcome document here

The question is: how could we able to make this resolution relevant in our national context, specifically on youth policy? First of all, this international recognition can be an argument for you to advocate for various issues related to young people health and rights. Since a lot of issues such as sexuality education (OP 26), youth friendly services (OP 25), and safe abortion (OP27) have been acknowledged, you can use the reference to your work in national level and ask for your government to implement their commitment.

Second, this resolution is one of the most progressive documents related to young people’s SRHR. It can be used as a strong reference for the next CPD 46th session on migration at April 2013 and the upcoming ICPD+20 on 2014.

A never ending and challenging process, isn’t it? Are you ready for advocating our sexual and reproductive rights?

Advocacy Statement from Youth Activists and Advocates from Asia Pacific for the 45th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

Young activists and advocates from Asia-Pacific demand full recognition of young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights for the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development

We, young activists and advocates from across Asia and the Pacific belonging to various backgrounds and a range of movements; and organizations [1], welcome the forty-fifth theme of the Commission on Population and Development – ‘Adolescents and Youth’.

In 2011, there are 7 billion people in the world; with young people between the ages 10 and 24 accounting for nearly half that number. Eighty-five percent of young people live in developing societies and face grave health concerns, including sexual and reproductive health that have grave implications on access to information, services, and resources. Fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is an integral part of our health, and has an impact on all aspects of a young person’s life, and thus must be prioritized to enhance our health, well-being, and rights. Keeping this at the forefront of the agenda, we make the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Protection of reproductive rights as human rights, and international recognition and adoption of sexual rights as human rights
Asia and the Pacific accounts for approximately 850 million young people [2]. We face multi-layered problems such as the issues of employment, poverty, education, and health that intersect with harmful cultural and traditional norms; impacting and restricting our access to a spectrum of rights, including SRHR, which are protected under instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In addition, the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, the Yogyakarta principles, and the World Programme of Action for Youth affirms our SRHR, bodily integrity, and the right for young people to meaningfully engage in decision making process.

Recommendation 2: Mainstreaming gender and a youth-centered budget in health system financing
Young women and girls in low-income countries continue to face the risks of permanent disability and death due to pregnancy-related conditions and experiences severe forms of gender-based violence.[3],[4] Young women and girls in the region also face the politics of gender inequality, puberty[5], parental and marriage consent[6]which pose further challenges in obtaining accurate and rights-based information about their own bodies, reproductive health, and sexuality[7]; thus endangering their health & well-being even more. Each year, there are an estimated 2.7 million unintended pregnancies among adolescent women living in South Central and Southeast Asia [8]. Ninety-three percent of unintended pregnancies in South Central and Southeast Asia are experienced by adolescent and young women, and occur among those who are using traditional or no contraceptive methods [9]. There is an added concern of access and support networks available for young married women, as services and relevant information are not accessible and available to them.

Recommendation 3: Provision of access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and access to Youth Friendly Services for all young people; including pre and post safe abortion care and services

The South-East Asian and the Pacific regions have the second highest HIV prevalence rates with about 1.27 million young people currently living with HIV [10]. The United Nations Secretary General’s report reflects that in 2007, national surveys found that 40 per cent of young males (ages 15-24) and 36 percent of young females had accurate knowledge regarding HIV — still well below the goal of achieving 95 per cent of young people having accurate HIV knowledge, which was unanimously endorsed by Member States in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS[11].

Young peoples’ lack of access, especially young girls, to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights is of intense concern. Comprehensive Sexuality Education that is framed in a positive, gendered manner and grounded in a human rights approach will go a long way towards empowering young people with the knowledge, tools, and skills to determine and enjoy their sexuality in a safe, comfortable, and healthy way.

Recommendation 4: Removal of legal, policy and cultural barriers, including parental and spousal consent for young people, particularly young women to exercise their rights.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) explicitly recognizes the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people; identifying it as an issue requiring urgent attention and efforts. It also emphasizes the right of young persons to access services & information; respecting their right to privacy and confidentiality. However, matters of age; marital status; parental consent; and related cultural/traditional concepts restrict young people’s access to services, resources, information, and rights,

As the leaders within our communities today and as leaders of the future; we make the following recommendations:

1. Protection of reproductive rights as human rights and international recognition & adoption of sexual rights as human rights.
2. Mainstreaming gender, and a youth-centered budget in National health system financing
3. Provision of access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and access to Youth Friendly Services for all young people, including comprehensive services for unintended pregnancies with pre and post safe abortion care and services
4. Removal of legal, policy and cultural barriers, including parental and spousal consent for young people, particularly young women, to exercise their rights.
5. Support for young people’s meaningful participation, leadership and involvement at all levels and types of decision making on development issues, especially sexual and reproductive rights and health, including in policy creation, planning, implementation & evaluation.
6. Ensuring the availability of quality, scientific-based data on Asian and Pacific young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights that enables communities to actively engage in data collection and analysis for the creation of evidence based advocacy and policy making. .

We strongly believe that it is only with meaningful investment in young people and the fulfillment of our rights that we can achieve the goals of the ICPD PoA, and continue to lead healthy lives. We strongly urge the commission to consider and adopt these recommendations at the earliest.

[1] Young people whose Working with communities of young women and girls, young people living with HIV/AIDS, young people who use drugs, young sex workers, young people of diverse sexualities, young transgendered persons, young men who have sex with men, young environmentalists.
[2] Civil Society Statement for the 42ND Session of the Commission on Population and Development 2009.
[3] WHO. 2009. Women and Health: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Agenda. WHO Press: Geneva.
[4] WHO. 2005. Summary Report: WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Initial Results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. WHO Press: Geneva.
[5] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers, and health educator. UNESCO. 2009
[6] ARROW for Change: Young and Vulnerable—The reality of unsafe abortion among adolescent and young women. Vol.13 No.3.ARROW. 2006.
[7] ARROW for Change: HIV/AIDS and SRHR—How was Funding Fuelled the Divide. Vol 12 No.1.ARROW. 2006
[8] The Guttmacher Institute. Facts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Of Adolescent Women in the Developing World. New York: The Guttmacher Institute, 2010.
[9] Rosen, J. Position paper on mainstreaming adolescent pregnancy in efforts to make pregnancy safer. World Bank: Washington, DC, 2010
[10] Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Young People and HIV factsheet. GYCA. New York: 2007
[11] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers, and health educator. UNESCO. 2009

CPD Preparation Meeting: Building a safe platform for young people within the advocacy process.

What happens when more than 25 youth activists gather in one place?

We were so excited to be part of the preparation meeting on the upcoming CPD meeting being held on April 2012. The IPPF ESEAOR Youth network got a chance to attend this preparation meeting held on the 9th – 10th February 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand and take part in the preparation process.

Youth activists from regional and grass root levels; coming from cross sectional SRHR areas, including feminism, human rights, sustainable development and HIV and AIDS shared their ideas and undertook planning for the next CPD meeting in New York!

Shubha and Milinda from SARYN and Lady and Rinaldi from ESEAOR Youth Network


The United Nations Commission on Population and Development will conduct its annual meeting on 23rd – 27th April 2012 in New York. The meeting will be tasked with following up on the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA).

This year, the theme is ‘Adolescents and Youth’. This topic could be very sensitive, particularly in the Asia and Pacific region, since the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people tend to be neglected and tabooed.

This meeting is being seen as the avenue for young people working in SRHR to advocate for youth’s rights. Since the Commission will monitor, review, and assess the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national, regional, and international levels, a well-organized and strong advocacy plan should be made to advocate for progressive commitments from Asian and Pacific governments.

A lot of topics were discussed during this meeting. On the first day, we started the meeting with a discussion on ICPD 101. In this session, we mapped out the timeline of regional and international events related to SRHR and its links to youth participation, young people and adolescent’s SRHR, progress on PoA in Asia and the Pacific, and why young people should participate in these events.

In the afternoon, there were sessions on political landscaping of young people and adolescent’s issues in regards to the ICPD+20 and CPD 2012 process, with presentations from some organizations on three main topics:

  • How comprehensive is comprehensive sexuality education?
  • Giving meaning to youth friendly services
  • Mapping the key priorities issue in Asia Pacific in relation with youth’s SRHR

On the second day, the meeting was focused more on advocacy effort and sharing by the participants. It was revealed that most of the participants have been involved in regional and global conferences but lack information about the UN process(es).

Therefore, a coalition of young people particularly mobilization on a national and regional level is important to provide input and key messages which will represent the youth perspective no matter where they are, and whether or not they attend the CPD.

In terms of follow up actions, we have agreed to do some joint works such as finalizing the briefing package to ensure young people from Asia Pacific will be able to meaningfully get involved with CPD 2012 session processes and make the advocacy statement specifically from the current realities of young people in the Asia Pacific region. We agreed that the statement should reflect the diversity of the young people with  the emphasis on advancing young people’s SRHR and linking with climate justice, human rights, gender equity, and mainstream health financing to achieve sustainable development plans.

Are you interested to know more about this process? We’ll keep you updated! 😀