Annyeonghaseyo from South Korea!

Written by Park Hyun Ah, YSNAP from South Korea

Annyeonghaseyo!

I’d like to share you all about activities that has been conducted on last month in Seoul, South Korea!

Planned Population Federation of Korea (PPFK) had a workshop with our youth community namely “Top-Us” from 31st August up to 1st September 2012.  It’s a big annual event, and this year 240 people gathered in Seoul to join this workshop, and 220 out of 240 people were youth volunteers like me!

This workshop included capacity building with our Executive Director, fun activities (like healing dance), and team activities such as making a mascot for the youth community, proposing next year’s youth programs, and lots of fruitful discussion!

As for me, I attended this year’s Regional Youth Forum in Bangkok, so I briefly reported about this forum. I will share you more about Korea’s present condition and would love to also listen to your stories. See u soon. Bye 🙂

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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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ASEAN Youth Forum: consolidating young people’s voice prior to the ACSC/APF (part two)

By Yann Aoudourm, youth representative from Reproductive Health Association Cambodia (RHAC)

 

ASEAN Youth Forum can be considered as a safe platform for young people to share their concern and voices within the region. AYF was to build up a platform for young people from diverse groups to voice out their issues, advocate for their needs and rights, influence policy makers, build up network, strategize mechanisms, demand and suggest to ASEAN government to realize its promise and to fulfill youth’s needs and rights.

This year, AYF was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 26th-28th March 2012 with more than 100 participants of youth from ASEAN countries plus China. During AYF, a lot of things discussed and young people have found out the four common challenges in the region such as education and meaningful participation of young people, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), peace, and environment. At the end of this forum, young people created a joint statement which urgently demands for immediate action from ASEAN government in facilitating the full actualization of our humanity: OUR MIND, OUR BODY and OUR HEART.

Regarding to common issues, firstly, it is related to our educational system: youth have raised issue by using evidence-base and youth have come to an agreement that ASEAN education is currently facing: (1) insufficient qualified teaching staffs, (2) poor educational facilities, (3) unequal education opportunities for key populations, vulnerable and marginalized groups, and (4) lack of programs that cater to the career wants of the youth. Youth have been demanding that young people in ASEAN must be empowered to access free and qualified basic education so that they can address their needs in order to find their own solutions, make their own decisions, and realize their own choices. And we are concerned about the limitation and restriction on space for freedom of expression and meaningful participation among youth from diverse groups.

Secondly, we have discussed about conflict and violence which still exist in many ASEAN countries. These are brought about by political unrest, national interest, social benefits, and faulty historical teaching. Examples of conflict issues are: border conflict, labor rights violation, discrimination of migration workers by State authorities and companies and natural resource exploitation such as land concession, dams, deforestation, etc. Conflicts among government and civil society have been on-going in many ASEAN countries. The youth still face political fear and are unaware of many political issues. Moreover, they fall as victims to state, community and domestic violence.

Thirdly, youth have recognized that they are currently living in a context which threatens our health and the environment around us. More and more of our ASEAN youths perish because of ineffective, lack of policies and promotion of these policies as well as gaps of implementation which greatly affect our bodies and the ecosystem we co-exist with in achieving sustainable development.

Fourthly, we have discussed about a better protection and promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, policies and services. We acknowledged that there is indeed an immense gap on the comprehensive information of young people’s sexuality, which is a key factor in enabling young people to make informed choices to enjoying the highest attainable quality of life. For the details of the youth statement, you can find it in our previous post.

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