Young activist Andrea Cruz discusses her participation in ICPD30 and the different contexts needed to bring attention to the barriers and challenges in sexual and reproductive health rights.

The International Conference on Population and Development adopted a revolutionary Programme of Action and called for women’s reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development at its 1994 meeting in Cairo. 179 governments were part of the conference who adopted the Programme of Action. This was key in placing people’s dignity and rights at the heart of sustainable development.

Young People’s Participation

Fast forward to 2024, young people are a crucial segment of the ICPD Programme of Action’s focus. Its ability to meet the needs of and stay pertinent to younger generations is vital for the Programme of Action’s ongoing success. As such, the UNFPA convened 200 varied youth-led and youth-focused organizations, leaders, and key allies during the ICPD30 review process. This gathering aimed to evaluate achievements, pinpoint obstacles, and envision the ICPD Programme of Action anew for the upcoming generation.

Learnings from the Conference

I had the opportunity to take part in the WeLead program in Honduras through the collective “Nosotras la preferimos sencilla.” Throughout my career, I have been devoted to advocating for and promoting sexual and reproductive health rights. My participation in the youth dialogue was quite challenging. It was my first time in a youth space with such weight and responsibility in the work we do in Honduras.

The socio-political contexts in Latin American countries are evolving. Violence, poverty, and corruption pose significant challenges in activism in our nations. Our discussions in the dialogue revolved around the implementation of innovative strategies to further the promotion of our rights and how we can continue to exert influence from these regional spaces. I believe that the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean encounter many challenges in advocating for sexual and reproductive rights. This includes our participation and influence in spaces that promote unity.

Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights at ICPD30

The topic of menstrual poverty and the importance of maintaining dignity during menstruation are crucial issues that should be included in the implementation of development agendas. Similarly, it is important to address the harmful narrative surrounding menstruation that directly impacts the health and well-being of individuals with regard to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

During our discussion, we talked about how the lack of menstrual products, healthcare services, and menstrual education contributes to social inequalities in different countries. Through the ICPD30, there were opportunities to highlight the different voices and contexts needed to bring attention to the barriers and challenges that menstruating individuals encounter.

Despite the challenges we face in the development of the ICPD, I believe that it’s always important to assert our voices as young people in regional spaces. Generating coherent commitments that are in line with what is happening in our contexts is crucial, and this can’t be done without the involvement of young people.

On the contrary, I want to emphasize that in Latin America, we will continue to resist in order to defend our contexts and our history. ICPD is a wonderful platform for young people around the world to voice their issues and be heard by development agency leaders. The participation of young people is very important as the issues raised on such platforms are being taken into consideration during the implementation of plans. Young people are the leaders of tomorrow but the agents of change today.

Author

  • Celeste

    Celeste, a 24-year-old social worker, is a daughter, sister, friend, feminist, activist, and partner. For seven years, she has been actively defending women's rights, particularly in the area of SRHR, in Honduras. Celeste is one of the four founders of the Honduran collective "Nosotras la preferimos sencilla" and enjoys cooking in her free time.

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