Monthly Archives: April 2015

Brenda- My Personal Experience at CPD48

Category : Naya Blog

By Mbaja Brenda
Senior Youth Advocate

Adolescents and young people account for 1.8 billion people in the world! Countries have realized that we cannot realize sustainable development without meaningfully involving these young people.

A Population Commission was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in October 1946. The General Assembly decided that, the Commission’s primary role will be the follow-up to the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and would monitor, review and assess the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national, regional and international levels and advise the council.

Every year the commission meets and an outcome document is developed that each country has to implement. This year marked a special year when the world is discussing the Sustainable Development Goals and the post 2015 development agenda.

I was honored to be accredited by ECOSOC to attend the 48th session of CPD under the theme, Realizing the Future we want: Integrating population issues into sustainable development including post 2015 Agenda

My role as a youth advocate was to advocate and lobby to ensure that delegates understood the importance of meaningful youth participation and that the outcome document will have a strong paragraph on issues affecting the adolescents and youths including sexual reproductive health and rights.

We, adolescents and young people, were there at CPD to remind the governments of the past, the present and the future. Human rights for all must be at the core of any development agenda.

My Role

I had the privileged to be involved in a side event that was moderated over by Mr. Ahmed Alhandewi, the UN secretary general envoy on youth. The discussion was on youth and CPD and the impact it has had on the young people and how to face the next phase of global development to achieve the set targets.

There is huge hope in the post 2015 Development agenda!

The link bellow contains the speech I made.

Youth plenary

I also had the privilege of talking about CPD and youth on the UN Radio Kiswahili about The need to involve youths in development



Key Message:

“We, young people can be more than number of female genital mutilation victims, or percentages of teenage pregnancies. They can be more than new HIV/AIDS infections or just number of unsafe abortion cases gone sour. They can be just people, people looking forward to a better tomorrow, healthy people waiting to take the world into a new realm of uninterrupted and accelerated global development”- NAYA.

Word hard and play HARDER!

Still after the conference I had opportunity to visit and see what is in the big apple, a city of concrete and all that I experience and saw will forever be inscribed in my heart.

CPD48 was the ultimate experience!


Letters from New York, DAY IV

Category : Naya Blog

By Robert Aseda

So today we met a magician. No, not at #CPD48. On a train to our hotel from the hard sessions of the day. The guy was ‘thorough’. That’s the NAYA slang for being good at his job. He made handkerchiefs, oranges and balls disappear and appear at will. It looked so easy. So simple. Like it was normal.

He looked like he could convert water into wine, if need be.

Am telling you this story because right now the world needs a little bit of magic. A magician who would rise up and turn up the modern challenges into opportunities and silence the old and recurrent challenges of our time. We need a magician who will ‘abrakadabra’ and boom no more challenges facing the globe today. This is the time he does something about teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, poverty, and terrorism among other issues.

But life is more difficult to fool than a bunch of hypnotized tired people on a subway. We need to put in time. We need to lay the foundation bricks one by one. We need to start thinking about what we want of our nation five years from now, ten years from now and so forth.

Today, the Commission invited a special guest to discuss why climate change is an important subject. Lori Hunter, an environmental demographer (yes, they exist) made the connection between climate change and sexual and reproductive health and right issues. Her picture couldn’t be more vivid.

She made a connection between hyacinth and HIV/AIDS. What happens when hyacinth menace shift to an area around Lake Victoria. It would mean fishermen move to a different side to fish. With time, people migrate along the lake to get fish from another source. As population grows of course major issues arise. There are suddenly new opportunities for business. And of course potentially the underlying risk of communicable and non-communicable diseases, crime (e.g. rape), environmental degradation among others.

I picked what she said, not because she mentioned Lake Victoria (which is important) but because she demonstrated an important link between sectors of development that we normally ignore. Take for example demographic dividend, a beautiful destination which most developing nations have fixed their eyes on. Governments plan to spend on education and jobs so that the young people can take charge of their developments.

However, this is not possible if we do not have discussions about their reproductive health. After all, there won’t be any people to build the nation if they are either sick or dying.

Meanwhile the dark smoke is just get thicker. Let’s hope that this is the case of the night getting really dark just before the bright of the morning creeps in.

Letters from New York, DAY 111

Category : Naya Blog

By Robert Aseda

Today was an interesting day at #CPD48. As the day’s progress, nations and regions made their stand known on the various issues they hold close to their chest, what they can compromise on and what the bare minimum for them was.

Negotiations among nations can be so interesting and so frustrating at times.

The Kiswahili have a saying that ‘fahali wawili wakipigana nyasi ndiyo huumia’

This loosely translates that it’s the grass that suffers when two bulls lock horns.

The bulls in this case are the governments and the grass of course the young people who are on the receiving ends of failed policy systems and non-responsive governments.

The major bones of contention remain the furor surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights into the final outcome document. African and Arab group still remain uncomfortable and see it as a western agenda. Issues like comprehensive sexuality education for example is seen as a ruse to teach children how best to engage in sexual activity and discussions on ending unsafe abortion as a license for immorality and encouraging abortion on demand. Fears that are obviously misplaced.

My late grandfather learned about sexuality, growing up and his role as a men from his grandfather’s house. My grandmother learnt about her body, her sexuality and the importance of keeping herself pure from her grandmother. And so did most people their age. The concept of sexuality education has never been foreign or a neo colonistic agenda as some quarters would want us to believe.

However, as a result of urbanization and migration, the whole social fabric has scrambled under the weight of modernization. The average child in Nairobi sees their parent a maximum of three hours in a week and their grandparent probably once a year. And even for those who spend much more time with their parents aren’t as lucky to get the most important information about growing up and sexuality.

Members of the clergy are equally straitlaced when it comes to issues of sex.

It’s no wonder ‘What is Sex?” and ”how to abort” have been consistently one of the most asked questions online by Kenyans according to the Google Zeitgeist Results.

As the #CPD48 nears conclusion, it is important that our governments are made aware of the economic and social ramifications of not taking the youth issues seriously. And these information, services and other investments on young people should not just be so that countries harness demographic dividends, but because they are basic human rights entitlement.

And oh, the Dutch government, dance4life and choice4youth and sexuality organized a side event on going youth voices heard (where yours truly here and Brenda Mbaja were speakers). It was an interactive session bringing together beautiful young and adult voices across the globe.

Brenda particularly gave an inspirational speech on her life and impact of the ICPD.

I know am not the religious person I know am not the most religious of persons I know but there’s this story in the Bible that just encourages me. You remember the story of the corrupt judge and the widow? This is the story about how a widow kept on going back to the judge to ask for justice. The judge kept on turning her down. The widow kept on going back. Eventually, the judge was so fed up with the widow that she gave her what she wanted just to get rid of her.

Now more than ever the youth must be that widow, unwavering and resolute, strong and unmoved, determined and bothersome.

Letters from New York; DAY TWO

Category : Naya Blog

By Robert Aseda

Today was an interesting day at #CPD48. Just like the typical second day at school, the air was filled with optimism and expectations for a progressive outcome document. As countries continued making their statements, it was clear that most nations of the world had come to the general understanding that their development agenda could not be complete without a deliberate effort to address the dynamic needs of the young people.
Regional groups first outlaid their lessons from their past two decades of implementing the ICPD Program of Action and their priorities for the next phase of global development. Whereas the priorities differed from region to region, the overall concerns was how to eradicate ignorance, disease, empower their young people and match into a golden era of unprecedented social, political and economic growth and development.

There was also a strong reiteration of need to invest in young people in order to harness demographic dividends. (This in Non-NGO language simply means a world where empowered young people are able to chart the development agenda of their nation like happened in the Asian tigers).
There was also consensus on need to work together to ensure global goals.

However, just as is expected of a globe with varying interests, there are contentious issues that lie impatiently waiting to erupt into a volcano.
One is of course the ‘controversial’ issue of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Whereas most nations feel that all people (especially young people) need access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health and right services including family planning, comprehensive sexuality education and access to safe abortion services, certain nations feel that that is a western agenda and an affront on traditional and religious beliefs.
It’ difficult though to argue with the logic of the representative of the Swedish government who said,

“Making abortion illegal does not reduce it. It just makes it go underground.”

The issue of sexual orientation and gender identity (gays, lesbians, transgender etc.) is another source of controversy that has plagued global population discussions over the years. Of particular interest has been whether or not providing reproductive health services is the same as encouraging homosexuality. And whether legalizing same sex marriage will increase the number of such unions.

However, one thing that need not be in contention is that whatever one’s sexual orientation or gender identity it doesn’t make them any less deserving of basic human rights. And nobody should verbally or physically abuse another just because they are gay or not. After all, people are more than just sexual beings.

Barrack Obama once said that the problems of the world like terrorism, poverty, unemployment and slow economic growth rate, aren’t caused by gays and lesbians. They are caused by religious and political extremists. They are caused by a people who spend so much time hating others than loving themselves.

Banning gayism or stoning them will not make them disappear into the thin abyss. It will just wreck them and not build you.

As different nations continue pushing for their interests during negotiations, the hope of all young people will be that their interests will be among the top global priorities.

Tomorrow is an important day to look forward to.

Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, the Head of the Kenyan delegation will make her statement and recommit her promise to the Kenyan youth.

And am a panelist! I will be speaking at a side event during #CPD48 on meaningful participation of young people in the ICPD and the Post 2015 agenda.

Aluta Continua!!!

Here are some quotable quotes from day Two:

“But demographic dividend will not happen unless meaningful investment is made on young people”
– Susan Cavenaghi-Key Note Speaker

“Ensuring Access to safe legal abortion will reduce maternal mortality.”
-Susan Cavenaghi-Key Note Speaker

“Young people too need Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services including family planning”
-Susan Cavenaghi-Key Note Speaker
“We need to Focus on young people aged 10-24 to ensure sustainable development”

“Young people must be the first to benefit from the sustainable development goals.” –France

“CPD needs to include youth as agents of change.”- Panama

“Gender issues are not women issues. They are a society issue. “

“People in their diversity as populations must be at the center of sustainable development”- El Salvador

Letters from New York; DAY ONE

Category : Naya Blog

By Robert Aseda

Finally the 48th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development kicked off in New York.

This year’s session is particularly very important. The world stands at a very important precipice. A lot of global events are happening around population and development and it’s therefore an opportunity that we can’t afford to gobble, if we are to correct the excesses of the past and set a future of prosperity and good health.

The 1994 International Conference on population and Development in Cairo is lauded as a momentous period in the global history. This was the moment when human rights were recognized as key to development. It’s considered as the mother of Sexual and reproductive health and rights.

After two decades of implementation, the 47th session was thought to be the final year. However it was opened for renegotiation and thus pushing the years of implementation indefinitely.

This year’s theme, Realizing the Future we want- Integrating Population Issues into Sustainable Development including the post 2015 agenda in particular recognizes the intersection of global development programs.

Young people have traditionally been relegated to the back seats in the policy making processes. The irony is that most times policies made for the youth are passed without including their input.

However, the ICPD Beyond 2014 and the POST 2015 Development Agenda have provided opportunities for young people to meaningfully participate in policy processes. Governments are beginning to realize that young people can be more than just decorations and PR objects.

As countries made their opening statements, the Netherlands decided to do something differently. They placed the huge responsibility of speaking on their behalf on their youth ambassador Ms Lotte Dikstra, a young person with delicate shoulders. And she didn’t disappoint. At the end of her five minutes speech, the conference descended into a thunderous applause.

A statement had been made. A new order had been set. A dark past was pushed further into the gloomy periphery where it duly belongs.

Essentially Lotte and the Dutch government had reminded the world that it’s no longer going to be business as usual. Young people could no longer just be passive passengers in their own lives. They have an obligation to speak. And the world has an obligation to listen.

Personally, I was really excited to get to be part of the official government delegation of Kenya. This, I believe will provide an immense opportunity to constructively engage with my government and provide fresh insight especially on young people and on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Specifically, am looking forward to stressing to my government that young people are not just a means to an end and that the governments of the world need to invest in young people not just as a means to realizing demographic dividend, but because they have fundamental rights to access these vital services.

Can’t wait for day two……………………..

Here are some quotable quotes from DAY ONE of #CPD48.

Family planning should be available for all women and men of all ages, who wants them.
-Prof Dyson Tim, London School

Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services in some countries remain far from being realized, with major consequences.
-Prof Dyson Tim, London School

All countries face challenges due to their population dynamics.
-Prof Dyson Tim, London School

Access to modern contraceptives for all is important in realizing the POST 2015 Agenda.
-Prof Dyson

Access to universal family planning for all who need it is a human right.
-Prof Dyson

Making abortion illegal does not reduce it. It just makes it go underground.
-Sweden Government

Sexual Rights are Human Rights.
-Brazil Government

I am here to speak on behalf of my government, not despite my age but because of my age’
– Lotte Dijkstra (21yr old)

Young People Need Access to Reproductive Health Information and Services

Category : Naya Blog

By NAYA Kisumu Advocates

The World Health Organization defines reproductive health as the complete state of physical, social and mental well being of person and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity in all maters relating to reproductive health.
All persons need access to sexual reproductive health information and services. The services should be safe, effective, adequate, acceptable and affordable to every individual.

However for young people especially young women of reproductive age in Manyatta Ward, this remains just beautiful words as they are not able to access these youth friendly reproductive services.

According to young people and community members whose views we sort, the major reasons for this sad scenario included:

 Few health centers provide youth friendly services despite the National Guideline on Provision of Youth Friendly Services
 Poor service provider attitude
 inadequate information from secondary audience to primary audience and weak referral systems
 Limited guarantee to privacy and confidentiality
 Religious and Cultural beliefs on condom use and access to services by young people
 Inadequate information by the youth

These have further been compounded on by school environments that do not offer comprehensive sexual education, peer pressure and drug addiction that influences young people to engage in unprotected sex, media influence on young people exposing them to pornographic materials.
For us to address this issue there’s need to ensure access to information and services.

There is need for more forums to empower youths on sexual reproductive health rights and youth friendly services, in collaboration with the county government and civil society organization.