Every August 12, the world celebrates International Youth Day. This year’s theme is “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward.” As advocates dedicated to advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, you might be asking, what’s migration got to do with SRHR? Well, just about everything.
Nearly half of the world’s population—more than 3 billion people—is under the age of 25. Furthermore, young people under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, young women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion. Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services. As a result, ensuring that young migrants have access to SRHR information and services as well as the full protection and promotion of their human rights is absolutely critical.
As the largest donor of foreign assistance, the United States government plays a unique role in delivering global health programs around the world. That’s why this Monday at 9:30am EST, the State Department’s Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues, Zeenat Rahman, will be hosting a Google Hangout with other US government officials to discuss this year’s International Youth Day theme. As the US government’s lead spokesperson on youth issues, Ms. Rahman is a key stakeholder in ensuring that the US prioritizes youth policies and programs throughout the government’s work. To date, the Office of Global Youth Issues has focused almost exclusively on youth employment and civic engagement. While vitally important priorities, what is so often overlooked is how adolescent and youth SRHR contributes to one’s ability to seek and maintain employment and meaningfully engage in the democratic process. Regardless of where we live, we all have the right to speak up and hold our government officials accountable for providing young people with ALL the resources they need to lead healthy and successful lives, including rights-based, comprehensive, integrated, and youth-friendly information and services.
So, what can you do to celebrate International Youth Day? TONS! Here’s just a sampling of ideas. Get creative! And share your ideas and enthusiasm with your friends and colleagues.
- Participate in the State Department’s Google Hangout on Monday at 9:30am EST and submit a question (or 2 or 3!) via Twitter using #IYD2013 asking what the US is currently doing to support young people’s SRHR needs, your ideas for how and why they should be doing more, etc.
- Watch the United Nations’ celebration of International Youth Day live Monday from 10:00-13:30 EST.
- Use the sample tweets and Facebook status updates below to raise awareness among your peers and followers about the importance of young people’s SRHR.
- Host a community event, forum, or campaign in support of young people’s SRHR.
- Engage with coalitions or organizations working in your community to advance young people’s rights and well-being.
- Request a meeting with community leaders and/or decision-makers to inform them about the importance of investing in young people and ensuring that they have the information and services to lead healthy lives.
- Blog on Advocates’ youth activist website, www.amplifyyourvoice.org, and write about why you think International Youth Day is important, how you and your peers are making a difference in your community, or what you think policymakers and leaders need to be doing to support young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in your country.
Twitter Targets: Use these twitter handles, as appropriate, to send tweets from the list below
- UN Youth Envoy – @AhmadAlhendawi
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon- @secgen
- US Mission to the UN – @USUN
- Secretary of State Kerry – @JohnKerry; @StateDept
- US Ambassador to UN, Samantha Power – @AmbassadorPower
- Your own country’s UN representatives
- Your own country’s Foreign Minister
Sample Twitter Messages:
- Gov’ts must include youth in design, monitoring & evaluation of youth development programs #IYD2013
- We must engage boys & men to help girls & women promote gender equality #IYD2013
- Invest in the whole girl w/ approaches that address sexual and reproductive health, education, livelihoods, and civic engagement #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must implement comprehensive sexuality education programs and policies for adolescents and youth #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must increase funding 4 family planning 4 married and unmarried adolescent girls #IYD2013
- Sexual & #reprorights are #humanrights: #post2015 agenda must include access to contraception, abortion & safe maternity care #IYD2013
- Empowering women and girls is key to achieving peace & security in #post2015 agenda #IYD2013
- More than ½ world’s population is under 25; young people must drive #Post2015 agenda #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must prioritize support 4 adolescents so we can prevent #childmarriage, maternal mortality, #GBV #IYD2013
- Girls who stay in school have better sexual and repro health outcomes. #Education is a human right. #IYD2013
- Development programs must address violence against adolescent girls, including intimate partner violence #GBV #VAWG #IPV #IYD2013
Sample Facebook Posts:
- Today is International Youth Day. The implementation of human-rights based policies and programs are important to ensure integrated and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services are free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. http://icpdbeyond2014.org/uploads/browser/files/bali_global_youth_forum_declaration.pdf
- Today is International Youth Day. Youth are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 41% of all new HIV infections worldwide. Reaching young people with evidence-based HIV prevention approaches before and after they are sexually active ensures their right to health and prevents HIV infections today and for the next generation.