Nairobi, 12 August 2020 -Today, the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) joins the rest of the world in marking the International Youth Day under the theme ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’. As an organization that places youth at the core of its activities, we take great pride in acknowledging the invaluable contribution of young people to the growth and development of the African continent. The powerful voices of young people in Africa’s political, economic, social and development spaces continue to positively influence the continent’s progress, more so towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the flagship African Union Agenda 2063.
While young people face a myriad of challenges in their quest to grow and thrive, IPPFAR, through its Member Associations (MAs), constantly seeks ways to create new opportunities and enabling environments that allow them to prosper. We strive to ensure that young people have access to quality sexual reproductive health information (SRH) and services through youth-friendly centers in the Member Association clinics across the continent.
Early this year, 10 members of the Youth Action Movement (YAM) successfully advocated for the abolition of fees that hindered young people’s access to sexually transmitted Infection (STI), HIV and contraceptive services in the district of Banikoara, North of Benin in West Africa. As a result, a significant number of teenage pregnancies, STIs (including HIV) have been and continue to be prevented. Consequently, more adolescents and youth are likely to stay longer in school, be empowered for a brighter future and contribute to the creation of resilient communities and gender equality in that region.
Through the Youth Action Movement (YAM), a youth arm of IPPFAR’s volunteer body, we have built the capacity of young people in leadership. YAM members are now instrumental in formulating policies and participating in governance processes in the region, and are involved in key decision-making, advocacy and other engagement processes right from the grassroots level to the global level. It is imperative that the youth have equal voices as representatives in boards of their respective Member Associations, and in other governance structures where their potential can be realized.
In our quest to ensure that no young person is left behind, we value their input as fundamental to our work. In these unprecedented times of COVID-19 for example, the youth have been involved in designing programmes that aim to fill the gaps created by the pandemic. Among such classic innovations is the development of mobile applications (apps) and their use of other digital platforms and technologies that offer SRHR information and services.
On this day, we celebrate Africa’s youth and reiterate our commitment to advancing their growth and development. We therefore further call on governments and stakeholders to embrace youth development and provide opportunities for growth to ensure Africa harnesses the demographic dividend of its youth.
-Maryanne Wanyama, Communications Officer, IPPFARO, Nairobi (Kenya) - Email: [email protected]
-Sam Ntelamo, Resident Representative, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Liaison Office to the African Union & UNECA, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) – Phone: +251 (11) 667 0699/0761 - Mobile +251 (0) 944 73 2051- Email: [email protected]