Alvine Kapitako SWAKOPMUND - Young people from the country’s 14 regions convened at Swakopmund over the weekend to discuss sexual reproductive health rights. The National Youth Conference was organised by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The other stakeholders are the African Youth and Adolescents Network (AfriYAN), Star for Life, Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The conference was held under the theme ‘Young people putting Sexual Reproductive Health Rights knowledge into practice’. The power of young people to exercise their rights and make correct choices will determine the health and well-being of present and future generations, said the mayor of Swakopmund, Pauline Nashilundo, at the opening of the two-day conference on Friday. Nashilundo said that young people in Namibia below the age of 35 make up 66 percent of the population while those younger than 15 years make up more than 39 percent of the population. The mayor noted that these young people daily face challenges such as unemployment, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school, inequality and gender-based violence. There is a need to find innovative ways on addressing the challenges, said the mayor. “Adolescents are diverse and programmes addressing adolescents and young people need to take note of the cultural diversity, differences in age and education levels while responding to their healthcare needs.” She added that a sustainable future depends on having a resilient population, which cannot be achieved without investments in the youth. “Young people deserve their fair share as a matter of equity but are also in a critical stage of their lifecycle that will determine their future and those of their families, communities and societies at large,” said the mayor. The president of AfriYAN Eastern and Southern Africa, Lorence Kabasele, also addressed the young people, encouraging them that they have the potential to position matters affecting young people at the forefront of Africa’s development agenda. This, she highlighted, can be done through meaningful advocacy based on strong and coordinated collective youth voices. “AfriYAN’s mission is to innovatively package data as a tool to amplify intergenerational dialogue which influence strategic action to deliver upon the best sexual reproductive health rights outcome for young people,” said Kabasele. This means that young people need to understand their challenges as far as sexual reproductive health rights is concerned. “Our common dream is to see the Namibian young people enjoying the most basic universal rights and we are convinced that we are called to work hard today to prepare a better generation for Africa tomorrow,” remarked Kabasele. Young people who spoke to New Era at the end of the two-day conference said that they acquired knowledge that they will pass on to their peers using various means including social media, the mass media, as well as youth meetings in their respective regions. Jacob Hanghuwo, a 31-year-old, said he learned about his sexual behaviour, his sexual reproductive health rights and how to behave in a relationship, amongst others. “I learned how ignorant one can be regarding their health. From the group discussions regarding males’ feelings we heard how men depend on their partners for their HIV results. I was also like that. The only time I used to find out about my HIV results was when I impregnated my partner but someone’s result is not your own,” said Hanghuwo. “It is useless to gain knowledge and not act upon it,” said 15-year-old MaBianca Dax from the Omaheke Region.
2018-07-23 09:27:32 2 months ago