By Lucien Nzayirata, Rwanda and Jillian Gedeon, Canada
Youth rights count for a brighter, more engaged, future!
A quarter of the world’s population, or 1.8 billion people, are youth. Not only do we lack adequate services related to sexual and reproductive health (SRH), but we also make up 40% of the world’s unemployed.
The link between youth civic engagement and family planning is clear: give us access to SRH services so that we can focus on our careers and communities. If we lived in a world where we could access medically accurate information in a non-judgmental way, then chances are we would actually use the information to our benefit. Unfortunately, there are too few options for youth and family planning. As a result, we end up missing out on opportunities such as education and employment and we are under-represented in the workforce. Female youth are an even more vulnerable population: when you combine their upbringing with poverty and other life conditions, their engagement in their own communities is compromised.
Family planning is a human right, not an adult right. By including youth in the equation, and by treating access to SRH as a human right, we can uplift entire communities to encourage civic engagement. Non-discrimination, accountability, empowerment and ensuring human rights among youth are key points to focus on in any activity planned and implemented by different bodies trying to help our communities.
For this International Youth Day, we want to bring attention to youth and family planning. It is time we made our voices heard.
Lucien Nzayirata (left) and Jillian Gedeon (right)