“Safe Spaces for Youth”


International Youth Week-


Alternatively known as the IYD, the International Youth Day is a global annual awareness day that highlights legal and social issues related to the youth.


The brainchild of the United Nations (1999) is celebrated annually in August the 12th, and is often preceded by a series of meetings, activities and forums that involve the youth, local authorities and governments around the world. Each year is accorded an accompanying theme, and the theme for 2018 IYD is Safe Spaces for Youth. The theme was designed in order to promote open talk with confidence without being exposed to any form of discrimination, criticism, physical or emotional harm.


The UN, for statistical consistency across regions, defines ‘Youth’ as those persons between the ages of 15-24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by member states (UNESCO). According to this bracket of age, they constitute about 1.1 billion, or about 18% of the global population. Youth and children altogether (under 24 years) account for nearly 40% of the global population. Altogether, the access to sexual, reproductive health and rights has not been fully catered for, if not for the majority. The figures in SRHR still lag behind and are attributed majorly towards discrimination of minority groups. Even though the constitution outlaws any kind of discrimination and disregard to human dignity, whilst promoting health including reproductive health, much more has to be done and a youth focused approach is required to enable the success of SRHR for the youth.


A youth focused approach functions to increase access to information and uptake of services by focusing on the youth specifically as target groups. The use of modern technology and social media has set a pace that is steadily picking, and if harnessed properly, could lead to increased outcomes in the area of SRHR for the youth, with Kenya having over 90% of mobile penetration and topping the world in mobile internet usage. This also exposes them to modern mass media methods of information dispensing and education that are used by a number of civil society organizations in working for youth SRHR outcomes.


Furthermore, the concept of meaningful youth participation needs to be adopted widely. The processes for youth by youth are designed to cater for issues that are directly experienced by the youth and occupying positions in decision/ policy making regarding SRHR issues is a certain way to increase the access to information, uptake and provision of services. These policies should also be able to be inclusive of minority groups and key populations as an umbrella way of tackling youth SRHR deficits.
Finally, the success of any youth focused approach is driven by recognition of young people’s rights which allows systems to be programmed alongside global standards for respect, protection and fulfillment of the same rights.

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