In order to generate evidence for advocacy for the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for adolescents and young people (AYP) of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) across the African continent, research has been conducted and is presented in a newly published report. The report highlights the SRHR-related human rights violations against adolescents and young people of all SOGI during COVID-19, and the impact made by the Right Here Right Now (RHRN) project in Uganda, Kenya, Senegal and Zimbabwe, to deter injustices.
The report shows that the SRHR of young people across sub-Saharan Africa remain profoundly contested. While the health and wellbeing of young people is recognized as a key pillar in national and continental development as well as in a broad range of national, regional, continental and global frameworks, the full domestication and implementation of these agreements remains severely hampered. The reasons for this is outlined in the report and include social and cultural norms around youth, attitudes towards sexual and gender diversity, gender inequality, funding constraints, the ongoing negative impact of the HIV pandemic, the role of religious beliefs, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of a redistribution of already limited resources. The contestations around SRHR are nowhere more apparent than in relation to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sexual and gender minorities, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Cultural norms and values continue to be leveraged against progressive approaches to LGBTI inclusion.
The report shows that knowledge production on the state of the continent regarding the SRHR of AYP of all SOGI is necessary for evidence-based policy making and implementation. It is also clear that the multi-sectoral approach encouraged by the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Commitment is imperative and allows all stakeholders (governments, CSOs and researchers) to be custodians of SRHR knowledge production, programme development and programme implementation. Furthermore, the importance of how best to frame the work on youth SRHR is key. In particular, the rights of LGBTI people, young people and rights related to gender and sexuality more broadly need strategic framing. It is imperative that civil society amplifies its voice and advocacy efforts to ensure that the goals set beyond ESA 2013 -2020 are achievable. The report also recommends key advocacy strategies that SRHR advocates can use to improve their context-specific SRHR programming for AYP of all SOGI.
The research and report was produced by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSCR) on behalf on the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) and was conducted as part of the Right Here Right Now (RHRN) programme (2016-2020). The report was made possible by support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.