By Hayley Gleeson and Ruben Pages
Over the past decade, we have made significant progress to advance girls’ rights to education, health, and security. Today, girls are more likely than ever to be in school, and to have access to life-saving health services including vaccinations. However, there is still much to be done. Girls are still born into a world where they face many layers of social and political disadvantage and discrimination. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a landmark blueprint for advancing women’s rights, was adopted in 1995 and brought these issues to the global stage - but in 2014, marking its 20th anniversary, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged that “overall progress (...) has been unacceptably slow, with stagnation and even regression in some contexts. Change towards gender equality has not been deep enough, nor has it been irreversible.”
By Ricardo Baruch
More than 30 young activists from all over the world participated in the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS that took place in New York. During 3 days (and some weeks before that), young people participated in negotiations, panels and meetings in order to share their experiences and demands.
The High Level Meeting started with the adoption of the Political Declaration that was negotiated in the previous weeks by UN member states and some CSOs. Many representatives of civil society were very disappointed that there were no opportunities to improve the language related to key populations, harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education and other important issues that are key for the response to the epidemic and that are also controversial for some conservative governments. Some of the relevant language is included at the end of this document.
By Ricardo Baruch (The PACT) and Murtaza Majeed (Youth RISE)
Two very important meetings are scheduled in 2016: the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs and the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Both will take place in April and June consequently in New York. All Member States will discuss what should be done at the global level in order to deal with issues around drug use, drug markets, drug control among others.
The drug control models and conventions came into play in an era where homosexuality was considered a “sickness”, abortion was a “crime”, and from history we know how stigmatizing and marginalizing communities have affected homosexual populations; but, thanks to persistent advocacy and activism, most governments accepted the fact and the health risks decreased among them. Alas, drug use is still stigmatized, people who use drugs are still marginalized groups, and data clearly indicates that the morbidity rate of drug users due to current repressive policies and health care is very high.
By Ricardo Baruch and Lindsay Menard-Freeman
For the fourth time in history, the 71st Session of the General Assembly of the UN will put AIDS on the table and discuss what is needed in order to respond in a better way to one of the most terrible epidemics in history.
Adolescents and young people are one of the most affected groups by HIV globally, but there are many governments that have not yet recognized their needs and their rights. Several countries still deny the right to sexuality education, access free condoms, or even to recognize the basic human right to life of LGBT people.
After several years of constant advocating and lobbying towards changes in the educational law in Bulgaria, finally the National Assembly has adopted the new Law on Education in which health education is specifically mentioned as part of a new educational area called “Civic, health and intercultural education”.
This is a small step towards equal access to CSE for all young people in Bulgaria and yet very significant victory for all hard-working and tireless experts, NGOs and activists who did not give up all those years despite the changing governments, ministers and national priorities. However, the hard work is just beginning now when we shall ensure that adequate educational standards are being developed for the health education in school. Even though it is part of the law now, still we shall keep promoting widely the need of health education in order to make sure it becomes part of each school’s curricula in the years to come.
This past week, Aram Barra, from The PACT & ACT!2015, had the honour to speak on our behalf at the Every Women Every Child High Level Event. See the transcript of his speech below!
Views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the organizations that support this initiative, nor is the publishing of these blogs an endorsement. This space is provided for youth advocates to freely express their views on issues that affect them and relate to their work.