Regional Youth Forum in Nairobi, Kenya

From the 14th to the 15th of July 2015 many African youths found residence in the Laico Regency hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

I had the privilege of being one of them as I had been nominated during the YAM AGA on the 24th April 2015 to be the Botswana representative. The reason for the gathering was to participate in the 13thInternational Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Regional Youth Forum. The Youth Forum is a platform where youth from all the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) Member Associations (MAs) come together to share experiences and
ideas on how best to move YAMs core mandate which is youth participation.

Within Africa alone there are over forty countries affiliated to the IPPF and they consider the spirit of volunteerism to be central to achieving the mandate and advancing the cause. IPPFAR envisages a continent in which all women, men and young people have access to the information and services they need. It aims to do so by campaigning for sexual and reproductive health and rights through advocacy and services, as one of the core values is the belief that sexual and reproductive rights should be guaranteed for everyone. This year the Regional Youth Forum brought together the youth representatives from various MAs to play a role in the framing of the new strategic framework for 2016-2022.

The new strategic framework is focused on being “youth centered” as a key element in the Post 2015 sustainability initiative that is currently being taken up globally. In a majority of African countries, the youth constitute more than 60% of the population. Youth are the most vibrant and vigorous age group. They are also the most infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Investing in making services become more “youth centered” is an initiative to significantly assist a nation in reaching the demographic dividend and in yielding positive returns.

Mr. C. Munro; the Strategic Advice director gave a core presentation for the Forum on Young people in the new IPPF Strategic Framework. IPPF aims to be youth centered through encouraging young people to think, question, explore and search for answers. This is so that they may be empowered to transform their lives and to influence the cultural context and local power dynamics that affect their lives. IPPF seeks to empower young people, enable them to realize their sexual rights and strengthen their role as agents of social change through the implementation of 4 outcomes that the framework seeks to achieve by 2022. The first was to Champion rights, which seeks to have 100 governments respecting, protecting and fulfilling SRH&R and gender equality.

The priority objectives under the outcome were engaging women and youth leaders as advocates for change and securing policy and practice improvements. The second outcome was to empower communities, which seeks to empower 1 billion people to act freely on their SRH&R. The priority objectives under the outcome were enabling young people to access comprehensive sexuality education and engaging opinion formers as well as the media to promote health, choice and rights.

The third outcome was to serve people; it seeks to deliver 2 billion quality, integrated SRH services. The priority objectives under the outcome were delivering rights-based services including for HIV as well as safe abortion and enabling services through public and private health providers. The fourth outcome was to unite and perform, in which IPPF seeks to be a high performing, accountable and
united federation. The priority objectives under the outcome were enhancing operational effectiveness and growing the volunteer and activist supporter base.

All in all I had a pleasant time interacting and learning from other YAM Representatives. The presentations that were given during the Forum were also very enlightening. BOFWA clinic is slowly working
towards reaching the ideal and has been constantly reshaping its service provision to be more appealing to the youth. Now that the strategic framework has clearly aligned outcomes, the expectation is that BOFWA will keep moving towards the mark. It is now upon us as young people to take this opportunity of having “youth centred” services and make use of them to insure responsibility for our sexual reproductive health and right.