Youth Advocates

May 21, 2014

How to get young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV at the heart of the Post-2015 framework (the new Millennium Development Goals)? The LINK UP programme– in which STOP AIDS NOW! participates–organized a training session to strengthen youth advocates’ capacities to influence the negotiations.

Strong youth-led advocacy is essential

Globally, the number of new HIV infections has declined, but young people remain heavily affected by the epidemic. Strong youth-led advocacy work is needed at country level to influence national government positions on young people’s SRHR—including on issues related to HIV and HIV and SRHR integration and human rights and to young people most affected by HIV—in the Open Working Group and the Post-2015 negotiations. This is essential to secure a commitment to universal sexual and reproductive health and rights and ending AIDS in the post-2015 framework.

Youth advocates need support to further their advocacy work. To that end, Link Up  organized a training session entitled “Getting young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV at the heart of the post-2015 framework”. It took place on April 8 in New York, and brought together 35 – 40 people. The training session was organized as a side event intended to bring together the youth advocates participating in the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development. 

“We should pay greater attention to barriers to quality services and healthcare providers’ attitudes. Providers have to be trained from the start, during their medical education, on how to provide quality, competent, non-judgmental care”
A participant of the youth training about a key message that needs to be advocated for

The session sought to increase awareness and knowledge on the main global and national opportunities for young people to influence the post-2015 process, and discuss key messaging. The session also provided concrete advice on how youth advocates can engage with their governments to influence government positions in the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations. In particular, the ACT! 2015 toolkit, in publication at the time of the session, was presented.  

Disappointment

The 47th CPD final resolution reaffirmed universal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, called for education on human sexuality for adolescents, and called for universal access to adolescents for friendly SRH services. The Link Up Consortium says in a statement that they are pleased with this resolution, but is nevertheless particularly disappointed, however, that it left out reference to sexual rights, gender identity and sexual orientation. In failing to do that, it does not provide enough of the commitments we need for a rights-based, comprehensive global HIV response. Please see the statement on the outcome of the 47th CPD.

This article has appeared in the STOP AIDS NOW! e-news May 2014.