Young people highlight sexual health and rights challenges in new consultation

01 Mar 18
South Africa

A new youth consultation has highlighted a lack of comprehensive sexuality education across East and Southern Africa.

Young people are also unable to make free decisions about their sexual health and rights, according to the consultation which was held in the run up to She Decides Day.

The findings were uncovered by Restless Development in a consultation commissioned by The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who asked 361 young people across 12 countries in the East and Southern Africa region to raise the challenges and barriers they face in realising their sexual rights.

The consultation also looked at what could be done to improve services.

It shows young leaders need an increased recognition of their role in delivering programmes, informing policy makers and influencing change for better sexual rights.

One 21-year-old woman from Uganda said: “As young people, we are not consulted when services or programs are being developed for us. We just receive what is forced on us or what is available.”

Another 21-year-old woman in South Africa added: “A lot of these [young] people do not know their sexual rights so they end up not standing up for themselves because they don’t know their rights.”

Young people are now calling on governments, policy-makers, decision-makers, donors and partners to support them through further financial investment in education services.

They are also asking for increased dialogue, and support for young people to negotiate and challenge norms and beliefs which hinder their access to sexual rights.

In addition, they called for legislation that would provide progressive, youth-friendly policies and laws to protect and enshrine their sexual rights.

The consultation was commissioned to inform the 2018 SheDecides flagship event in Pretoria, South Africa, today.

Follow updates from the event across social media using #SheDecidesDay - or follow Restless Development South Africa - and read the full findings here.

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