Monday, 26 December 2011 10:04

Closing Remarks by Khadija Mohammod,a Representative of YouthFront

Good afternoon, Your Excellencies, all protocol observed. I wish I could speak in Swahili but only 10 people will understand so I will speak in English.

My name is Khadija Mohamed. I am a 14 year old mother. I am not a sex worker but a child who was exploited into sex work. I lacked protection, love and attention from parents. All this made me a child in need of money and so many things in this world. I had to sell sex to survive. Today I am proud to say I am HIV positive and am living my life fruitfully and positively.

As a member of YouthFront I have the honour to present to you this Call for Action.

This call to action represents the commitments and expectations of over 300 young people from across Africa and the Diaspora who have met in Addis Ababa from the 1st to 3rd December 2011 for the ICASA Youth Preconference.

Endorse the Africa Youth Charter as it provides a holistic approach in addressing the realities (opportunities and challenges) of the delivering the youth agenda. It provides a legal platform for the implementation of a comprehensive youth policy framework.

Recalling the recommendations of the ADF V Consensus document (2006) on Youth Leadership in the 21st century, the 3rd Conference of African Ministers in Charge of Youth (COMY III), the African Union Youth Forum (2011), the Malabo AU Heads of States Summit 2011) on Accelerating Youth Development in Africa.

Taking note of the progress made towards achieving MDGs 6 across the continent including the fact that 22 countries in Sub- Saharan Africa have reduced incidence of HIV by 25 percent

Bearing in mind that young people are not merely passive beneficiaries but effective agents of change. Dedicated, enthusiastic and creative, they have a great potential to advocate effectively for their right to SRHR and for the availability of a wide range of services,

Appreciating that,

  • Young people in Africa constitute a large proportion of the total African population, they are often unable to access SRH services especially commodities and services that may be available to adults, for a variety of reasons, including affordability and cultural dynamics.
  • Progress towards universal access targets have been slow and require concerted and deliberate efforts on the part of all stakeholders.
  • Some socio- cultural factors perpetuate stigma and discrimination against youth and represent significant barriers to distribution and utilization of SRH services
  • Existing sexual and reproductive health services are insufficiently responsive to the heterogeneous characteristics of the youth particularly in paying attention to the unique needs of certain sub-groups of the population.

We, the youth of Africa, pledge to:

  1. Build and strengthen the capacity of youth leaders and youth organizations as part of our response to HIV in Africa
  2. Hold our governments accountable to their commitments
  3. Incorporate and reinforce sexuality education in our peer education Interventions

We therefore call on governments, partners, donors and all stakeholders to:

  • Ensure more strategic allocation of financial resources towards the AIDS response whilst taking innovative steps to increase funding using local sources such as financial transaction, tax and public private partnership.
  • Create or expand a budget line for the provision of reproductive Health Commodities for youth.
  • Support youth led initiatives to be financially sustainable and take advantage of the African Union Young Volunteer Corps to strengthen our capacity across the African continent.
  • Ensure young people's access to comprehensive and targeted sexuality education, following international standards, which acknowledge the specific needs of the diversities of young people including most at risk adolescents, Young People Living with HIV, and especially young sex workers, and those with disabilities.
  • Develop a youth HIV database which provides a set of indicators for a baseline against which we can measure progress.
  • Ensure availability of strategic age and sex disaggregated data for young people and appropriate indicators for most vulnerable populations in age bands (10-14, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34) for evidence-based programming
  • Take specific steps to improve the quality of health services to ensure that they are youth friendly, such as involvement of young health professionals in the design and implementation of HIV services and ensure the elimination of all barriers to access.
  • Convene a youth technical group, through the African Union Young Volunteer Corps and in support of the Malabo Decisions that will lead on development of an African HIV / AIDS position and agenda and to revise targets towards the post 2015 discussion.
  • Develop a definition of and common targets for universal access for young people.

We accept the responsibility we have as young leaders and pledge to hold ourselves accountable to the same degree that we will hold you accountable.

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