Young people’s right to reproductive health information and services must be ensured for them to effectively play their role as the demographic dividend of Pakistan.
This was stated by Ambassador of Netherlands Marcel de Vink while speaking as the chief guest at the two-day “Youth ASK Leadership Conclave” organised by Rutgers WPF Pakistan under its programme titled, “Access, Services and Knowledge” funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated a press release issued on Saturday.
“A very important aspect of this development is realising young people’s reproductive health and rights,” said Vink, adding that the Dutch government and its people were committed to contributing to the social development of young people in Pakistan.
The two-day event was attended by notable development sector professionals, media persons, social activists and politicians, among others. Young people from 19 cities of Pakistan were selected to represent their communities at the national level.
Former federal health minister Sania Nishtar said Pakistan’s youth policy only focuses on sexual and reproductive health of married couples while completely ignoring the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people.
Rutgers WPF Pakistan’s country representative Qadeer Baig informed that Pakistan’s 60 per cent population consists of young people, saying, “We need to bridge gaps between decision makers and these young people by providing them a platform and opportunities where their potential can be relieved”.
He said that the young people were needed to be involved in all developmental initiatives especially those which addressed issues directly affecting mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing of the young.
Capacity-building sessions were also organised during the Youth ASK Leadership Conclave for young people on advocacy, meaningful youth participation, resource mobilisation, leadership and communication skills and SRHR.
The conclave provides young people a common platform through which they acquire the knowledge for community leadership that aims to build young people’s individual capacity to make safe choices, have better access to health facilities and to create an enabling environment for young people free from prejudices, biases and cultural barriers limiting their right to access non-judgmental and none-discriminatory health services.
Speakers lauded the efforts of Rozan Youth Helpline, Aman Telehealth, Madadgar Helpline, Saheli hotline, Marie Stopes Society, Green Star, Rahmuna-FPAF and Bedari Helpline for establishing helpline services that provided counseling, legal and referral services to young people across Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.