This statement was presented by Youth Coalition member Babu Ram Pant (Nepal) at the 50th Session of the Commission on Population and Development on behalf of Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Right Here, Right Now Partnership
Honourable leaders, it is my pleasure to speak today on behalf of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights –a coalition of youth from 20 countries, as well as the Right Here Right Now Initiative.
I am Babu Ram from Nepal, and thank the commission for providing this opportunity for Civil Society, especially youth led organizations, to have our say. Having said that, I urge the UN system to make it easier for civil society organizations (CSOs) and youth to participate meaningfully. This week, civil society representatives have faced many barriers, including having to queue for entrance passes almost everyday for a week long event, instead of being issued temporary grounds passes, and facing issues with security officials at the UN building, who have acted unreasonably aggressively towards CSO representatives, and have been prevented from some side events, which should be open for Civil Society. I have heard these stories from many fellow CSOs this week, which was not the case in past years or commissions.
Now, let me come to the issue under discussion in this 50th session: changing population age structures and sustainable development.
With 1.8 billion young people globally, we represent the highest proportion of young people ever in the history. This offers an incredible opportunity for sustainable development, provided that these young people have good health, human rights, employment opportunities and access to social, economic and political engagement and participation in decision making. This is a prerequisite for ensuring the implementation of SDGs.
However, today alone, as we finish all our discussions, eat lunch and prepare for dinner later, over 8000 girls have undergone female genital mutilation. This adds up to 3 million girls every year.
By the time I speak in 3 minutes, over 80 girls would have been married before their 18th birthday. 830 women are dying everyday from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, which highlights the inequalities in services.
The discussions on age structures and sustainable development should not ignore these facts. So, we call on Governments and other actors across the world to ACT now to take these steps to:
Firstly, Ensure meaningful engagement of youth from diverse backgrounds in decision making at all levels, including formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, plans and programs.
Secondly, Take concrete measures to reduce inequalities and all forms of discrimination based on gender, age, class, indigeneity, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, ethnicity, disability, region, or other status in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, as well as other national and local policies and programs.
And Thirdly, Prioritize and invest in sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, through increased youth-friendly, affordable, and accessible sexual and reproductive health services, including modern contraceptives, safe and legal abortion, and trans-specific healthcare; access to comprehensive sexuality education; strong implementation of laws and programs to prevent early, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and all gender-based violence; the decriminalization of sex work; and protection from the violation of all sexual and reproductive rights.
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must fulfill all human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, for young people, as well as their opportunities for social, economic and political engagement.