Youths Want Inclusion In SRHR Planning

YOUTHS should be involved in the planning and implementation of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) interventions if Zimbabwe is to address the unfinished business affecting young people, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official has said.

By Michael Gwarisa

Speaking on the side-lines of a two day International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Youth Engagement meeting, UNFPA Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Program Analyst, Pennelope Kasere said Zimbabwe has made strides in addressing so may issues affecting young people but more still needs to be done to increase uptake of SRH services.

This workshop is about getting young people and youth advocates from different organisations who are mostly working on issues to do with SRH and getting them to engage and share on what the ICPD is all about because this year, we are celebrating 25 years since the program of action from the ICPD.

“We are taking stock of the progress made so far, where are the gaps and what more needs be done, like where is the unfinished business as it pertains to commitments and targets that were set on ICPD. A lot of progress has been made but there are quite a number of gaps,” said Kasere.

She added that some of the commitments that relate to young people which were made at the ICPD include achieving universal access to primary and secondary education and there has been significant strides in that area.

“ICPD also talks about access to SRHR for women and young girls so we find for us, we are still lagging behind, though there has been some gains when you look at our data in terms of access to services in terms of even teenage fertility, and teenage pregnancies though we are quite high. For Zimbabwe, almost like 1 in 10 girls aged between 15 and 19 they fall pregnant.

“We still think that’s too high but if you compare with 2015 data you find that there has been a decrease because in 2010, we had 15 girls in every 1000 girls were giving brith but now we are at 10. For us, it’s still too high so that’s part of the unfinished business where we are saying, our teenage fertility rates are still on the high side and we need to do more to ensure that young people are empowered to make informed decisions that enable them to utilise and realise their full potential.”

Meanwhile, the UNPFA is working on ensuring that young people get access to information so that they make informed decisions. The initiatives include supporting life skills sexuality HIV and AIDS strategy for the Ministry of primary and secondary education where they have contributed to the curriculum reviews process, the teacher learning materials and the teaching of teachers so that learners have updated information.

“We are also working in tertiary institutions where we are trying to ensure that students in tertiary institutions have information and access to SRH, HIV and Gender Based Violence (GBV) services. We have supported the ministry of health to develop guidelines on comprehensive sexuality education for out of school young people so that we also make known what services are available, where can they access them to get the decisions that they make.

“We also made investments in trying to get the services side be responsive to the needs of young people where we have supported the ministry to try and ensure the public health clinics in the 20 focus districts that we work in are youth friendly,” said Kasere.

Meanwhile, Panashe Tsuro a young person and a student with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) said youths needed to be included in the whole planning process to ensure that commitments made at the ICPD in 1994 are met.

“The ICPD is addressing SRH issues and we are celebrating 25 years since they started and 50 years since SRH issues have been given the prominence they deserve. Where I see us as going forward, we are looking at the unfinished business.

“Progress has been done but as young people we say more needs to be done. So many changes have happened since the year of the ICPD and programs have to be crafted in a manner that is all inclusive and encompasses all youths and young people. There is nothing for us without us,” said Panashe.

Grace Madukua a young person from the Midlands province said the ICPD should ensure that the commitments that were set 25 years ago are accounted for and  government should scale up efforts to ensure the unfinished business are addressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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