Today is International Youth Day! As the Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT), we celebrate this day as a special recognition of young people’s roles in local, regional, and global level development objectives. As we continue to be guided by the African Union’s goal to harness the demographic dividend, SAYWHAT takes pride in having created spaces and structures where young people articulate their issues and take part in solution-focused dialogues to address their challenges.
This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme “Youth engagement for global action”, seeking to highlight ways in which we engage young people at local, national and global levels in matters affecting them. As an organisation, we are mostly encouraged by the work we are currently doing in engaging young people, specifically through the Mugota (young men’s forum) and Web for Life (young women’s forum) movements. Through these platforms, we have empowered young people to be active contributors in the quest to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 and Sustainable Development Goal 5, that speak to Good Health and Well-being and Gender Equality respectively. As such, the movements have sub-themed their celebrations to “Youth engagement for action on access to quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and attainment of gender equality”.
This year’s celebrations are being held at a time the world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively affected the socio-economic wellbeing of millions across the globe. Young people’s vulnerability has also equally worsened. Cases of gender-based violence have increased, while access to sexual and reproductive health services has become a challenge. As the world adopted the new normal of providing “essential services” to its citizens, Mugota and Web for Life movements continue to advocate for SRHR services and information to be qualified as “essential services”.
Mugota and Web for Life Movements pledge to continue working towards the creation of an enabling environment in which SDG 3 and SDG 5 can be realised by bringing youth’s voices to the forefront and taking action despite the current challenges we are faced with. Together we can!