Posted on | April 25, 2012 by Lisa Correnti |
The U.N. Commission on Population and Development opened Monday for a week-long session in New York. This 45th session is dedicated to “Adolescents and Youth” to confront the challenges and opportunities of the 1.8 billion youth throughout the world – 90% in developing countries. State reports reviewing the outlook in their own countries seem to focus on three integral tasks for youth to transition successfully to adulthood; education, health and employment. While these are fundamental for youth to lead productive and meaningful lives the emphasis on sexual and reproductive health including comprehensive sex education for adolescents and youth permeates throughout this conference.
Alarming is the number of states calling on youth to have full autonomy in regards to the decisions they make for their own lives. Absent is the recognition of parents as the primary educators of their children, but for a few lone countries and the Holy See.
In opening remarks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to provide reproductive health care for adolescents and youth. A new report by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) included calls for urgent action to “protect young people’s right to sexual and reproductive health.” The report “highlights the need to give millions of girls access to reproductive health services to avoid unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.”
Calls from countries for removal of all so-called barriers (parental notification laws for minors) to obtain sexual and reproductive rights services are being made including access to contraception, emergency contraception and legal abortion.
Given that over 67 million children do not have access to primary education and that high unemployment rates are causing youth to migrate, state delegates should reexamine the CPD draft document which currently dedicates 57% to addressing sexual and reproductive rights for adolescents (10-14) and youth (15-24) and direct it to these pressing areas of concern.
Globally the health concerns of adolescents must continue to be addressed but it is to the detriment of our youth to let this be guided by reproductive rights groups who have one agenda in mind – access to adolescents without interference from parents or legal barriers to provide comprehensive sex education and access to sexual and reproductive services.