During the last 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, IPPF ESEAOR in cooperation with IPPF SARO hosted a parallel session on Girls Decide. The session was full-reserved and a lot of things occur and be discussed. What happened during this session? Just go through this page! Enjoy! 🙂
- Ms Anjali Sen, Regional Director, IPPF-South Asia Region (SA),
- Dr. Anna Whelan, Regional Director, IPPF-East South East Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAO),
- Ms. Syefa Ahmed, Youth Representative, IPPF South Asia
- Ms. Denty Nastitie, Youth Volunteer, Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA)
Mr. Milinda Rajapaksa, IPPF-SARYN Coordinator
Dr. Anna Whelan, Regional Director, IPPF-ESEAO delivered her opening remarks and said that as IPPF will celebrate its sixtieth (60th) year anniversary on 2012, and as opposed to its age, IPPF becomes invigorated. IPPF is guided by its strategic framework for adolescent. IPPF is on the advantage as it works with the established young people and at the same time provide SRH services to them. In 2010, IPPF provided 4 million services to young people and a considerable amount of which are in the South Asia Region.
The IPPF Girls Decide videos Young Motherhood: Halima’s Journey and Child Marriage: Hosna’s journey were shown and followed by two short presentations by Denty and Syefa, youth volunteers from Indonesia and Bangladesh IPPF Member Associations respectively. Presentation entitled “Young Women and Girls in Indonesia,Can We Decide?” showed that Indonesia is a multicultural country Due to patriarchy and unsafe practices, young girls are at risk of sexual violence and other types of violence (child marriage for example is still practiced in the country). Denty also encouraged other young people to take an active role in youth initiatives that promote youth friendly services and comprehensive sexuality education.
On the second presentation entitled “Girls Decide: experiences from South Asia”, Syefa highlighted the marked differences between rural and urban situation of young people and presented staggering figures where more than two-thirds (2/3) of women in Bangladesh are married by age 18. She also shared that many young married girls face lots of pressure from their parents in law to have babies early in marriage as they consider reproduction as a standard for a successful relationship.
Following the two presentations the discussion was opened to the floor. The session organisers opted for an open forum – rather than Q&A, pieces of paper were distributed for each participant to write his/her own challenges faced with regard to their sexual and reproductive health and rights as young people. Everyone was then invited to throw their paper to other participants in the room. The person who caught the ‘snow ball’ would then read out the challenges and would try to address it. The moderator of the session, Milinda Rajapaksha, SARYN coordinator, further elaborated and encouraged discussions at every challenge presented. Below are the highlights of the discussions in the open forum:
- The high cost of contraceptives is a hindering factor for young people accessing to contraception.
- A young parliamentarian from Pakistan cited several efforts were made to address youth policies by means of approaching constitutional reforms and integrating youth policy into it.
- An adult participant from the Netherlands shared about the kind of sex education they get in schools curricula in their country. She further elaborated that a young girl who has a good understanding of her physical body, accessibility to information and SRH services, has the advantage to be well equipped to make better choices with her body. This has resulted in contributing being the country having the lowest rate of teenage pregnancies.
- A young person from Bangladesh also shared also that at policy level t young people has access to different family planning methods. There is also a need to advocate to the government and at the same time with the community on providing family planning access to young people. . Stigma should be addressed and need to ensure friendliness of the health service providers.
- On the issue of advocating with the religious leaders, a young person from Bangladesh shared the works of the madrassah. This work involves training of young people in advocating to the religious leaders, to the local governments and convincing parents to let the girl child decide for herself. The topics in the training are about their physical bodies, sexual pleasure, sexuality, HIV and AIDS, sexual diversity include LGBTQI and prioritizing the needs of young people on youth friendly services.
- Creating safer spaces for young people for SRH services is important
- Approaching sexuality positively
- Issues of transgender are always being left behind
- A young person from Sri Lanka shared on the SPEAK OUT campaign against sexual harassment faced by young women especially those which happened in public transportation and to make a report to a hotline.
- A journalist asked whether teaching sexuality education would push young people to become promiscuous. The respond was that there are many studies which showed evidence that young people will not become promiscuous as they were being taught on sexuality education.
- The common theme that emerged from the session was the need for young people to support and push for youth-lead initiatives on SRHR ———————–.
IPPF – South Asia Regional Director, Ms. Anjali Sen closed the session. Ms Anjali stressed that there is growing global consensus that girls are central to be key player in development. IPPF’s unique contribution in this groundswell of support is to highlight the importance of girls’ and young women’s sexual and reproductive lives. These efforts will not only make a big difference in the lives of girls and young women, but also will feed into the global processes, including the MDGs and the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
This one and half hour satellite session was a joint event organized by IPPF ESEAOR and IPPF SAR which was coordinated by Ms Jayamalar Samuel and Ms Francesca Barolo.
Mr. Brayant Gonzales, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) , Youth focal point