Category : Naya Blog
By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)
Three years ago hundreds of youth, civil society organizations and member states, descended into Bali, Indonesia for the Global Youth Forum to identify and discuss issues and priorities facing today and tomorrow’s generation of young people within the context of population and development so as to influence global agenda going forward.
The question that lingers however is whether we have realized the strides that we committed to?
On creating enabling environment for adolescents and youths, the government has actually done very little. A lot of young people still lack access to comprehensive affordable health services that are free from stigma, violence, coercion and discrimination. The sexual rights of young people are not fully protected. Young people are still forced into early marriages and female genital mutilation. Cases of gender based violence in the country is on the rise. We still have LGBTQI discriminated in the country and attacked. Minors and teenagers are being defiled and raped and the perpetrators walk scot free. The killings of sex workers is on the rise in the country. Youth participation in the country is not taken so seriously. Top down development approach is the order of the day. Youths voices are never heard.
Health education to adolescents and young people in the country is not actually reaching all the young people. Majority of the adolescents and young people don’t know their rights to staying healthy and yet It was agreed that the government was to provide non-discriminatory, non-judgmental, rights-based, age appropriate, gender-sensitive health education including youth-friendly, evidence based comprehensive sexuality education that is context specific.
We have less youth friendly services in the country more so in rural areas. In the conference it was agreed that Governments must provide, monitor and evaluate universal access to a basic package of youth-friendly health services (including mental healthcare and sexual and reproductive health services) that are high quality, integrated, equitable, comprehensive, affordable, needs and rights based, accessible, acceptable, confidential and free of stigma and discrimination for all young people but this is not happening at all.
On universal education, quality education, relevant education and inclusive education, we are still lagging behind. We still have young people still learning under a tree and in the burning sun. Education is not actually completely free in the country. We still have a lot of persons living with disability not going to school.
The financing of sexual and reproductive and health rights policies and programs in the country are not usually prioritized for budgetary allocation. Most of the county governments have not implemented the SRHR policies and programs due to the lack of political and financial commitment.
Although we have made some gains on gender equality in the country, Gender inequality is still rampant in the country. Women in the same profession as men are being paid less than men. This is rampant in the informal sector which is a hotbed of many women here in Kenya. We still have not yet achieved the one third gender rule. We can see men fighting women in making sure that this bill is eliminated. We still have women not going to school at all.
I call upon the government to be accountable and when it comes to matters that concern young people. We are the future of this country and we need to be treated with care.
Young people you need to get up and speak out now for a better tomorrow. We have a right to quality education and health care services. Reproductive health is a human right and we deserve to have it. We have a right to take part In public participation, ask questions and access information.we have a right to be protected from harmful practices. Stand up and speak out for a better tomorrow.
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