News

Consulting with the Youth to Commit to the ICPD Mandate

28 November 2019
ICPD+25 National Level Youth Consultation jointly organized by RHRN Bangladesh and UNFPA
ICPD+25 National Level Youth Consultation jointly organized by RHRN Bangladesh and UNFPA

The youth are the backbone of any country; they play an important role in the development of society in general. Young people constitute 30% of the total population of Bangladesh. Recognizing the importance of the youth in the realization of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), UNFPA Bangladesh along with Right Here Right Now convened the “ICPD+25 National Level Youth Consultation”, on the road to the Nairobi Summit in line with its global mandate.

The main objectives of this youth consultation were to have an in-depth understanding of the ICPD PoA in Bangladesh, with a special focus on issues pertaining to the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of adolescents and youth and to identify and prioritize the intersectionality between the SDGs and the ICPD PoA, which are particularly relevant Bangladesh.

Mr. Shale Ahmed, Executive Director, Bandhu Social Welfare Society inaugurated the meeting. He spoke on the importance of ICPD and its relevance as it focuses on fulfilling the rights of people from all classes and backgrounds, even the most marginalized communities and advocates for a gender-neutral world.

He said, “To an extent, this year’s ICPD conference is extremely important because for the first time in 25 years- political and financial commitment shall be made towards implementing the ICPD Programme of Action.  Through ICPD, we can put forward challenges we all as a nation face in our daily lives whether it is population distribution, migration, lack of services for indigenous and LGBTQ people and even climate change.”

Ms. Jennifer Stevens, Midwifery Education Specialist, UNFPA, took part in the knowledge sharing process and drew attention to the importance of focusing on equity as opposed to equality.

When it comes to human rights, it's not enough to strive for equality because in reality, we are not all equal.  We all come from different nations, different backgrounds and have had different opportunities. Our point of need is not the same. In order to ensure a better future our programmes and services need to be more equitable so that the ones in need receive the most amount of incentives and care,” she said adding the significance of young people standing up for their rights, speaking about their needs to lead a life of dignity and respect.

Suvashish Monigram, Programme Assistant, UNFPA, moderated the interactive group exercises and the informative plenary discussion that followed.

At this consultation meeting, relevant stakeholders including young people and CSOs, shared their recommendations to achieve the ICPD PoA and also reviewed the current progress in the implementation of ICPD PoA at the country level. These recommendations are due to be disseminated not only during the Nairobi Summit but also among likeminded networks both at the national and international level.

Over the last few months, the International Steering Committee of the Nairobi Summit has done extensive listening to and consulting with different stakeholders about the Nairobi Summit. Not surprisingly, when engaging with such a diverse group of stakeholders, many diverse issues and expectations came to the fore. But, also some global common ground has emerged, including, but not exclusively, around the “three zeros,” the need to look at international and domestic financing, the focus on young people, paying attention to increased demographic diversity, and the harnessing of the demographic dividend. 

 

In the session moderated by Suvashish Monigram, Programme Assistant, UNFPA, participants were divided into five groups based on the five themes of the upcoming Nairobi Summit, namely: 

 

  1. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage
  2. Financing required to complete the ICPD Programme of Action, and to sustain the gains made
  3. Drawing on demographic diversity to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development
  4. Ending Gender Based Violence and Harmful practices
  5. Upholding the right to sexual and reproductive health care even in humanitarian and fragile contexts 

 

At the outset of the session, Mr. Monigram asked each of the groups to reflect on the global commitments relevant to their themes, and contextualize them in the Bangladesh landscape. Through an hour-long intensive discussion, the groups came up with sets of recommendations and observations, which were reported at the end of the session.  

 

KEY ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

The key issues and recommendations made in the end of the group exercise are presented here in accordance with their themes:  

 

Group 1: Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage

 

Issues:

 

  • Not enough adolescent friendly centers
  • Lack of information SRHR
  • Lack of government interventions
  • Absence of community involvement
  • Lack of understanding of human rights

 

Recommendations:

 

  • 24/7 Active adolescent friendly centers
  • Increased government intervention to ensure SRHR for all
  • Raise awareness regarding SRHR, human rights and gender-based violence (GBV) through social media platforms
  • Ensure community involvement
  • Adding comprehensive sexuality education and gender diversity in the education syllabus

 

Group 2: Financing required to complete the ICPD Programme of Action, and to sustain the gains made

 

Issues:

 

  • Lack of financial support in youth development
  • Difficult to access proper funding for youth
  • Lack of sustainability
  • Lack of budget implementation
  • Project-based services
  • Lack of motivation for youth
  • Lack of innovative approaches
  • Lack of proper sensitization

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Allocate sufficient budget in youth development projects all over Bangladesh
  • Ensure practical SRHR education for all young people
  • Establish youth friendly centers, ensure finance and budget allocation with sustainable logistic support
  • Create self-help group in every locality and ensure they generate financial sources for themselves to sustain
  • Allocate funding for gender sensitization training for relevant stakeholders
  • Fundi youth innovative skill development training
  • Fund youth parliament and process

 

Group 3: Drawing on demographic diversity to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development

 

Issues:

 

  • Stereotyped social system
  • Negative impact of media
  • Lack of access to information regarding SRHR, Gender and Age
  • Lack of youth focused programs and funding
  • Lack of comprehensive sexuality education in the curriculum

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Increasing the involvement of parent fora
  • Training for religious leaders, socially influential people, policy makers and local stakeholders
  • Involvement of media gatekeepers
  • Data focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity (Government, BDHS, Statistics Department)
  • Increase youth focused programming fund, program, capacity building and cultural programs
  • Address lack of comprehensive sexuality education in the curriculum
  • Regular collaboration of youth with the government

 

Group 4: Ending Gender Based Violence and Harmful practices

 

Issues:

 

  • Sexual harassment in public places and transportation
  • Occurrence of child marriage in society

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Include GBV issues in driver’s training module and also provide an orientation/training for bus helpers
  • Establish One-stop Crisis centers (OCC) at the district level
  • Law against sexual harassment in public places and transportations
  • Allocate budget from government to create awareness among transport agencies and unions through Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA)
  • Publish gazette notification from government
  • Provide small interest loan to families with adolescent girls
  • Develop proper monitoring guideline and practice for existing child marriage prevention committee

 

Group 5: Upholding the right to sexual and reproductive health care even in humanitarian and fragile contexts  

 

Issues:

 

  • Ongoing prevalence of violence in society
  • Lack of funding to ensure SRHR in humanitarian and fragile contexts
  • Lack of youth contribution

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Emergency desks to report/ complain for all
  • Media focus with proper reports and documentation on issues of all groups
  • Ensuring safety and security not just for women but also young and adolescents, disabled, transgender and gender diverse population, as well as old aged group in humanitarian response
  • Establish mobile courts
  • Youth orientation for capacity building in terms of humanitarian response
  • Ensure youth participation in policy making
  • Strengthen the monitoring framework for humanitarian interventions