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Policybrief african regional agreements


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THe AfricAn YouTH cHArTer HAs noT been siGned or rATified bY:
• Algeria
• Botswana
• Cape Verde
• Eritrea
• Madagascar
• Malawi
• Mauritania
• Seychelles
• Somalia
• Swaziland

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Policybrief african regional agreements

  1. 1. Affirming the Rights of Young People African Regional Agreements at Summits and Conferences In sub-Saharan Africa, young people ages 10-24 The AfricAn YouTh chArTer (AYc), make up a third of the population, and in some JulY 2006, The GAmbiA countries within the region, the proportion of The African Youth Charter is guided by the vision young people is more than half of the total popu- of the African Union to promote and emphasize lation. 1 These youth play a pivotal role in support- the importance of the youth ages 15 to 35 to the ing the growth and development of the continent. development of Africa.3 Yet a lack of access to reproductive and sexual health information, services, and supplies puts The ultimate goal of the African Youth Charter the health and lives of many young people at (AYC) is to address the principal issues facing Af- serious risk. Around the world, forty percent of rican Youth. As identified by the UNFPA, there are new HIV infections are among young people, and four major issues that are affecting African youth. sixteen million adolescents give birth each year – They are as follows:Policy Brief with the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of the world’s HIV infections and adolescent births • Education, employment and youth occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. 1,2 The African development; Union recognizes the critical importance of help- ing young people protect their sexual and repro- • Women and girl rights; ductive health and giving young people a voice in decisions that affect their future. • Quality sexual reproductive health services; and Established in 2002, the African Union consists of 53 African countries working to promote the • Youth participation involvement and growth, peace and security of Africa. The govern- empowerment. 4 ment and members of the African Union have Within the AYC, there is specific language on joined together to implement programs and youth, health, and women and girls. The articles policies that encourage youth to take action and that address these are as follows: responsibility in ensuring the development of the continent as well as their wellbeing. The Union Article 16: Health recognizes that young people make up the fastest growing population in Africa and that youth are • “Every young person shall have the right to en- essential assets to the progression and positive joy the best attainable state of physical, mental future development of Africa. and spiritual health.”4 The African Union has played a crucial role in • State Parties shall, “secure the full involvement the development of regional agreements aimed of youth in identifying their reproductive and at providing young people with the resources health needs and designing programs that re- and health services they need to maintain a spond to these needs with special attention to healthy lifestyle and in the long run assist in the vulnerable and disadvantaged youth…”4 advancement of Africa. This document provides an overview of five such agreements that address • State Parties shall, “provide access to youth the sexual and reproductive health and rights friendly reproductive health ser vices in - of young people: the African Youth Charter, the cluding contraceptives, antenatal and post Maputo Plan of Action, the Fifth African Develop- natal services.”4 ment Forum, the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action, and the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculo- Article 23: Girls and Young Women sis and Other Related Infectious Diseases. Youth • State Parties shall, “take steps to provide equal advocates and adult allies working to advance access to health care services and nutrition for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women”4 young people in Africa should become familiar with these agreements, so that they may hold • State Parties shall, “enact and enforce legisla- leaders accountable to these commitments. tion that protect girls and young women from all forms of violence, genital mutilation, incest,
  2. 2. The African Union In the Maputo Plan of Action, the African Union Ministers make specific reference to sexualrecognizes the importance and reproductive health; indicating that it should be among the highest six priorities of the health sector.6of helping young people Action Areas of the Maputo Plan of Actionprotect their reproductive In the Maputo Plan of Action, there are specific action areas that are prioritized to address someand sexual health. of the greatest concerns and threats to African countries. These areas include: • Integration of sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) into Primary Health Care (PHC); rape, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, traf-THe AfricAn ficking, prostitution and pornography”4 • Repositioning family planning;YouTH cHArTer • State Parties shall, “secure the right for young • Developing and promotingHAs noT been women to maternity leave”4 youth-friendly services;siGned or • Unsafe abortion; The Charter pays close attention to, and under-rATified bY: stands that there is a greater concern of African Youth who are “… marginalized from mainstream • Quality safe motherhood; • Algeria society through inequalities in income, wealth • Resource mobilization; and power, unemployment and underemploy- • botswana ment, infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS • Commodity security; and • cape Verde pandemic, living in situations of poverty and hunger, experiencing illiteracy and poor quality • Monitoring and evaluation.6 • eritrea educational systems, restricted access to health services and to information, exposure to vio- Addressing Young People • Madagascar lence including gender and violence, engaging in armed conflicts and experiencing various forms The Maputo Plan of Action includes language • Malawi of discrimination.” 4 Therefore, the AYC reaffirms on young people specifically. The Plan of Action the need to take proper steps and precautions to identifies “young people” as one of the prior- • Mauritania promote and protect the welfare of youth. ity target groups among several other groups including men and women of reproductive age, • seychelles While the Charter does include language that is and displaced persons among others. 6 Most im- • somalia specific to youth and the health and women and portantly, the strategic actions for implementing girls, the document does not identify ways that the Continental Sexual and Reproductive Health • swaziland young people can get involved or be included in and Rights Policy Framework does an incredible their local communities to promote and ensure job in noting the actions that need to be taken youth development. for young people. Such actions include: • Provide sexuality education for young people mApuTo plAn of AcTion for in and out of school; The operATionAlisATion of The sexuAl And reproducTive heAlTh • Strengthen implementation and or advocacy And riGhTs conTinenTAl policY for policies that support the provision of sex- frAmework, sepTember 2006, ual reproductive health and rights services ad- mozAmbique dressing the needs of young people; and The Maputo Plan of Action was adopted during • Cerebrate a day for the sexual reproductive the Special Session of the African Union Con- health and rights services for young people.6 ference of Ministers of Health in September of 2006. 5 The aim of this Special Session was to iden- Much of the declaration illustrates challenges tify a plan of action for the initiation of the Con- facing low and middle income countries that tinental Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy need assistance in regards to pivotal areas such Framework, which would also link HIV/AIDS with as HIV/AIDS, education and women. The Declara- reproductive health services. 6 tion is a step toward the realization of the goals these countries must achieve. The Maputo Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, seeks to improve the status of The fifTh AfricAn developmenT the continent by progressing towards worldwide forum, november 2006, eThiopiA access to comprehensive sexual and reproduc- The Fifth African Development Forum, “Youth tive health services in African by 2015. The Plan and Leadership in the 21st Century”, was the first of Action realizes the urgent need to improve the to focus on young people.7 The Forum was orga- health status of the African population in order nized by the Economic Commission for Africa and to attain the Millennium Development Goals. 6 partner, The African Union.
  3. 3. The Fifth African Development Forum (ADF-V) The Fifth African Development Forum cites youngstresses that any policy implemented to promote people as an important factor in the develop-progression of the continent must identify the ment and progression of the African continent.importance and urgent need to address young The forum goes even further to illustrate thepeople. The Forum provides an environment to essential need for commitments such as thediscuss and implement approaches for the devel- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofopment of Africa. 8 Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to be implemented to help support the objectives thedefinition of Youth forum has set in place. Most importantly the Forum notes the importance of essential tacticsOrganizations have found difficulties determin- such as comprehensive sexual education anding a proper definition for youth because their access to condoms to improve the rate at whichfocus has previously been on younger children young women fall victim to HIV/AIDS and otheror adults. However, The Fifth African Develop- sexually transmitted infections.ment Forum adopted the definition used by TheAfrican Union in the African Youth Charter. Youthare therefore defined as those between the ages AbuJA cAll for AccelerATedof 15 and 35 years. AcTion TowArds universAl Access To hi/Aids, Tuberculosis AndAfrican development forum Work Program mAlAriA services in AfricA, mAY 2006, niGeriAThe Work Program of the ADF-V focuses on mak-ing youth essential in the progression and de- In May 2006, members of the African Union met invelopment of Africa. For that reason the work Abuja, Nigeria to evaluate the Abuja Declarationprogram has three key standpoints in order to and Plan of Action on HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosisreach this goal: and Other Infectious Diseases (ORID) of 2001. 9 The theme for this declaration is “Universal Ac-• Youth as a base for economic development; cess to HIV and AIDS; Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by a United Africa by 2010.” Of the twelve• Youth as a dynamic force for social transforma- priorities for the Abuja Plan of Action on HIV and tion and progress; and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases; Protection for Human Rights focuses• Youth as a factor for change in governance and particularly on women, youth and children. political development in Africa. 8 Priorities for the Abuja call towardWithin these standpoints, there is specific lan- universal Accessguage that addresses young people, health, girlsand young women. They are as follows: The twelve priorities for the Abuja Call toward Universal Access include:Youth and Economic Development: • Leadership at National, Regional and Continen-Young People, Health and HIV/AIDS: With HIV/ tal Levels to mobilize the society as a whole;AIDS proving to be the number one risk to youngwomen in Africa, it has been noted that much • Resource Mobilization;needs to be done in order stop the pandemic. TheADF-V recognizes both direct and indirect ways • Protection for Human Rights, Poverty, Healthaddress these issues. Direct tactics include com- and Development;prehensive sexual education, life skills, access tocondoms, etc. Indirect tactics include increasing • Strengthening Health Systems;young girl’s education opportunities so thatthey are more empowered and knowledgeable • Prevention of Primary and Secondaryregarding engaging in sexual activities such as Infections;selling or trading sex. 8 Youth advocates mustYouth and Social Development:ADF-V recognizes that the culture of most Africansocieties has subjected most young women andgirls to household labor, therefore hindering hold leaders accountable for the commitmentstheir economic and social growth. Also recogniz-ing that young women and girls are more likely tofall victim to serious health issues such as sexu-ally transmitted infections and HIV, the ADF-Vsuggests the importance of educating young they have made to young people.women and girls and also recognizes the positiveoutcome of implementing certain commitmentssuch as the Convention on the Elimination of allforms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)and others. 8
  4. 4. • Improvement of Information, Education of that; stating that youth among other groups and Communication; are needed:• Access to Treatment, Care and Support; • For the fight against HIV and AIDS, Tuberculo- sis and Malaria;• Access to Affordable Drugs and Technologies; • To develop frameworks that will provide• Research and Development on HIV and AIDS, substantial results; Tuberculosis and ORID; • To support the mobilization for prevention,• Partnership; and care and support and treatment based activities; and• Monitoring and Evaluation. 10 • To facilitate the operationalization ofThe African Union has noted that as individuals all commitments. 10move from country to country within the conti-nent, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis spread.As a result, they have realized the urgent need The AbuJA frAmework forto take proper action to fight against the spread AcTion for The fiGhT AGAinsT hiv/of these diseases. However, they face several Aids, Tuberculosis And oTherchallenges and obstacles in the process. A few of relATed infecTious diseAses, Aprilthese challenges include: 2001, niGeriA• Lack of adequate policies protecting The African Union Heads of State and Govern- the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS ment met in Abuja, Nigeria in April 2001 to hold and Tuberculosis; a special summit focused on HIV/AIDS; Tubercu- losis (TB); and Other Related Infectious Diseases• Failure to link the correlation between HIV and (ORID). 10 The results brought forth the commit- AIDS with sexual and reproductive health; and ment made by African States to make HIV/AIDS one of the major priorities of their national devel-• Stigma and discrimination of people infected opment program. 11 with HIV/AIDS. 10 Concerned about rapid spread of HIV infection,While reaffirming the commitments cited in the tuberculosis, and other related infectious diseas-Millennium Development Goals and rededicating es, the Heads of State met to review the situationthemselves to the protection of human rights, and develop strategic plans and policies thatspecific reference is made to young people, wom- could be implemented to alleviate and monitoren and health: the situation. In an attempt to do so, the Heads of State made specific reference to young people, “To continue promoting an enabling pol- prioritizing their needs in order to progress as a icy, legal and social environment that continent. They recognized the following: promotes human rights particularly for women, youth and children and ensure • Special efforts are required to ensure that the protection of people infected and af- Africa’s children are protected from these fected by HIV/AIDS, TV and Malaria and to pandemics and their consequences and that reduce vulnerability and marginalization the full and effective participation of young including conflict-affected and displaced people in prevention and control programs is persons, refugees and returnees.” 10 essential to their success;Noting the difficulties and challenges Africa • Special needs and challenges of the HIV/AIDSfaces regarding HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tubercu- pandemic for the young that make them vul-losis, the agreement acknowledges the need to nerable to infection and adverse impacts oftake prevention, treatment, care and support the epidemic; andmeasures. Within these measures, they recog-nize the need to improve information, education • Education will play a major role in the fightand communication; investing in evidence-based against HIV/AIDS in Africa. 11prevention that focuses primarily on youngpeople, women, girls and other groups; and to Recognizing these issues, the Heads of Stateprovide universal access to male and female declared AIDS as a State of Emergency for thecondoms for all persons who are sexually active. continent. As a result, they made the followingInterestingly, the agreement makes reference to commitments:continuing the promotion of traditional values • To place HIV/AIDS as the major priority issueon abstinence, but also emphasizes the need to regarding the national development plans;12continue to increase condom use. 10 • Ensure that the needs of susceptible groupsWith young people being an essential tool in the are met. These groups include women, chil-positive progression of Africa, it is imperative dren, youth, workers and others;11to have youth involved in their local communi-ties to promote and ensure youth development.This particular agreement does make mention
  5. 5. • Improve quality of and access to education, references information and youth programs regarding 1. UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010. HIV/AIDS;12 Accessed from /globalreport / Global_report.htm on February 15, 2011.• Allocate at least 15 % of the annual national budget to improve the health sector;11 and 2. World Health Organization. “Making Pregnancy Safer.” Accessed from• Formulate a continental wide policy with the safer/topics/adolescent_pregnancy/en/index.html on assistance of the African Union Secretariat. 12 February 15, 2011. 3. African Union. African Youth Charter. http://www.afri-The Abuja Framework identifies youth as a prior- population and HIV/AIDS as a major priority english.pdf. Accessed November 15, 2010.issues for national development plans. It alsohighlights the need for improved quality of HIV/ 4. Ashenafi, E., Imran, L. UNFPA. ICPD-MDGs-AYC-Work- ing as One!-2009. Accessed from http://files.tiggroups.AIDS education and programs for young people org /90021/get-web/ICPD_MDG_ AYC _Youth_Position_although components of effective programming, Oct09_NO_COVER.pdf on February 15, 2011.such as comprehensive sexuality education, arenot specifically articulated. 5. The African Union Commission. Plan of Action on Sex- ual and Reproductive Health and Rights ( Maputo Plan of Action. eng.pdf. Accessed November 23, 2010.The agreements described in this fact sheet are 6. Special Session of the Conference of African Union Min-important tools for youth activists and adult isters of Health. working to advance the sexual and repro- Conferences/Past/2006/September/SA/Maputo/CAMH2.ductive health and rights of young people within htm. Accessed November 29, 2010.Africa. These agreements have shown that gov- 7. The Fifth African Development Forum (ADF-V). Youthernments in Africa are increasingly recognizing and Leadership in the 21st Century. http://www.uneca.the importance of prioritizing youth; however, org/adfv/Concept_Paper.htm. Accessed November 18,much work needs to be done to hold leaders ac- 2010.countable to their commitments. Understanding 8. The Fifth African Development Forum. About ADF-V.the commitments that already exist is key to de- Accessed Novem-manding that accountability and to identifying ber 29, 2010.remaining policy gaps to advocate for in futurenegotiations. 9. The African Union. Abuja Call for Accelerated Action To- wards Universal Access to HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis andAdvocates for Youth © February 2011 Malaria Services in Africa. Accessed on December 2, 2010.Written by Olaide Aiyegbusi, International Division, with 10. The African Union. Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS,contributions from Elizabeth Orlan, Zemen Retta, and Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases.Maritza Pedlar Accessed on December 8, 2010. 11. A Compendium of African Union and International Commitments on HIV and AIDS. The Abuja Framework for Action for the Fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other Related Infectious Diseases. 64.
  6. 6. missionEstablished in 1980 as the Center for Population Options, Advocates for Youth champions effortsto help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive andsexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more posi-tive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health.our vision: The 3rsAdvocates for Youth envisions a society that views sexuality as normal and healthy and treatsyoung people as a valuable resource.The core values of Rights. Respect. Responsibility.® (3Rs) animate this vision:RIGHTS: Youth have the right to accurate and complete sexual health information, confidentialreproductive and sexual health services, and a secure stake in the future.RESPECT: Youth deserve respect. Valuing young people means involving them in the design,implementation and evaluation of programs and policies that affect their health and well-being.RESPONSIBILITY: Society has the responsibility to provide young people with the tools they needto safeguard their sexual health, and young people have the responsibility to protect themselvesfrom too-early childbearing and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.some relATed publicATions from AdvocATes for YouThYouth and the Global HIV/AIDS PandemicAdolescent Maternal Mortality: An Overlooked CrisisAffirming the Rights of Young People at United Nations World Conferences and SummitsSee the complete library of publications at