7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights opens in Ghana

February 11, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Alpha Jallow

The 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights opened in the Ghanaian capital Accra at the beginning of the week.

The Conference which runs from the 8th to the 12th of February, will deliberate on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth sub-types including early, middle and late adolescents, adolescent and youth living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), youth in conflict situations and youths living with disabilities.

It will also discuss issues on the vulnerable, excluded and key/marginalized populations, sexuality education, youth-friendly services, forced/early marriage, adolescent motherhood, abortions, gender-based violence, maternal morbidity, and mortality.

Apart from expert meetings, constituency-focused meetings and capacity-building workshops, pre-conferences— Youth pre-conference, Women’s pre-conference, Parliamentarians’ pre-conference and Media pre-conferences— will also be held.

 

 

The five-day Conference, which is being organized by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights (AFSHR), will be hosted by Curious Minds, Ghana and under the proud patronage of the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency Lordina Mahama.

The theme for the Conference is ‘Realizing Demographic dividend—The Critical Importance of Adolescents and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’.

In his address to launch the conference, his Excellency Girmay Haile, Country Director, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in Ghana, noted that the high migration rate, management of urban populations and HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were major challenges for governments to deal with in the next twenty years.

His Excellency Girmay said the Conference was necessary as it would provide a platform for the discussion of such issues in an effort to find solutions to them.

In a statement, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, Country Representative, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), said there was the need to recognise and fulfil the reproductive and sexual rights of all young people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ensure access to health education and services, including safe and legal abortion.

Dr Ahonsi described the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights as part of the process of deepening the discourse and moving forward of the agenda of addressing the challenges of policy gaps in promoting sexual health and rights.

He said the organization of such conferences had produced quite a number of youth leaders and put the issues on the policy agenda of Africa’s development.

Dr Ahonsi, therefore commended the organizers of the Conference as their efforts were in consonance with the recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Bali Global Youth Forum which stressed the need for youths to stay healthy; be entitled to and have access to comprehensive education, families, youth rights and well-being, including sexuality; transition to decent work, leadership and meaningful youth participation, comprehensive sexuality education, youth participation, access to comprehensive health services, including abortion; investment in young people and the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against youths.

 

 

Ms Edith Asamani, Conference Manager, who presented an overview of the Conference, said that it would identify promising and best practices for adolescent and youths’ sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on effective responses to youth vulnerabilities.

In addition, Ms Asamani said the Conference would facilitate knowledge management and programming to enhance the regional and global development agenda, and propose actions to promote adolescents and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in the implementation of the ICPD Beyond 2014, the post-2015 Development Agenda and Agenda 2063.

The Executive Director of the Conference Secretariat, Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh, in a welcome address, said the Conference formed part of a long-term process of building and fostering a regional dialogue on sexual and reproductive health and rights that would lead to concrete actions to enhance stakeholders’ ability to influence policy and programming in favour of a sexually-healthy continent.

UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

The UN agency works all over the world to end child marriage and to eliminate female genital mutilation as well as to ensure that all girls can realize their dreams, be safe and live happy and healthy lives. The organisation’s aim is to let them be girls, not young brides or young mothers.

UNFPA also work in close partnerships with the World Health Organistaion, UNICEF and UN Women, with funding from the French Muskoka Fund, and are supporting efforts to fulfil the potentials of young people. One of the key interventions in this respect is the ‘C’est la vie!’ educational TV soap-opera and the accompanying national and local social and behaviour change campaign on radio, social media and the web to tackle attitudes to child, adolescent and maternal health, reproductive health, quality of care and gender-based violence.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alpha Jallow

Alpha is a freelance journalist from Dakar, Senegal, having worked for the BBC African Radio service, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) and Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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