Over the last few years, governments, civil society and UN agencies have been working together to determine the post-2015 development framework, specifically through anopen-working group (OWG) process that is wrapping up this summer. Most recently, member states participating in the OWG have developed a set of proposed goals and targets to address all areas of development. While the draft framework is a good place to start, there are key aspects missing, specifically around young people and their diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGI/E).
As part of the Post-2015 Youth Global Strategy Meeting, young LGBTIQ activists from the Pacific, Africa, North America, Asia and Latin America came together for a pre-meeting training on the post-2015 development process and the inclusion of SOGI/E issues.
The rights of all people – including young people – to recognize their SOGI/E is intrinsically linked to development and the post-2015 agenda; ensuring the rights of young people with diverse SOGI/E will help foster an enabling environment for the development of strong societies.
Young people, particularly those with diverse SOGI/E face discrimination and violence in all parts of the world. They are less likely to have equal access to education and health services and information, be employed with formal and decent work, and fully realize their human rights. These four aspects of development are essential to reducing poverty and improving the quality of life for all people.
Young people with diverse SOGI/E are more likely to:
- Drop out of school due to increased discrimination, bullying and social barriers, often leaving them disengaged from academic activity. Ensuring that all young people have access to quality education, including comprehensive sexuality education, is integral to the development of professional and innovative societies.
- Face discrimination in and denial of health services. Denial of treatment and breaches of confidentiality create a climate of risk for young people. This leads to fewer young people with diverse SOGI/E accessing life-saving health services and results in higher levels of negative health outcomes such as depression and suicide.
- Be employed in informal sectors, reducing the likelihood of having insurance, liveable wages, and access to professional and personal development. Higher employment rates for young people stimulate the economy, reduce poverty, and increase the quality of life for all people.
- Be denied their basic human rights. Despite the fact that international human rights instruments, including the UN Charter, include non-discrimination as core principles and require that human rights be guaranteed to everyone without discrimination, laws and policies that criminalize diverse SOGI/E still exist. These laws must be changed so that dignity, security, and equality for all people are realized.
In addition to including young people with diverse SOGI/E into the post-2015 framework, it is imperative that they are included in the creation and implementation of the framework. Young people are key stakeholders in the process as agents of change. They bring innovative ideas to positively impact the future, and are the group that will be most affected by the outcomes of the framework.
The development of a framework is only the first step in the post-2015 process. Young people, especially those with diverse SOGI/E need to be recognized in the framework’s goals, targets and indicators and must be included as essential members of the framework development process.