Asian Young Key Populations-Led and Young Key Populations-Serving Networks and Organizations Forges Together towards influencing Post-2015 Development Agenda

From October 4-5, 2014, Youth LEAD, with support from different UN partners, organized the ACT!2015 Regional Advocacy Workshop. This regional workshop is part of the Phase 2 of ACT!2015 strategy to build a united voice of young people and young key populations globally and influence the post-2015 development agenda. It aims to develop a regional advocacy roadmap to guide youth organizations and YKP activists in Asia. “The ACT!2015 is a great opportunity for young people and young key populations to integrate, invest, and innovate collectively to put forward their interests to achieve a better life in the next 15 years,” Aries Valeriano from UNAIDS Regional Support Team in Bangkok highlighted. Twenty-seven youth advocates working with 19 youth-led and/or youth-serving organizations in 13 countries in Asia.

Participants went through a process of recognizing the different SRHR and HIV issues that affect young key populations in the region and of providing the current community context; developing the regional advocacy agenda based on these issues; mapping the network and picking both the allies and targets; and building the regional advocacy roadmap. “It is really important that we look at the different issues altogether to come up with what we can consider as the regional priority,” said Rachel Arinii, Programme Coordinator of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Key SRHR and HIV issues identified by the participants include the issue on age as hindrance in accessing sexual and reproductive health and HIV services, particularly age of consent; legal and policy barriers that suppress young key populations, including young lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs) from accessing the services and exercising their rights; absence of comprehensive sexuality education and strategic information in the formal and informal education curricula; and meaningful youth participation in all levels of policymaking processes. From these set of issues, the regional advocacy agenda was formulated. The four-point agenda focuses on the following areas, with specific goals:

Agenda 1. Youth-friendly services. By September 2015, the government will invest in engaging the YKPs in developing indicators and guidelines for quality youth-friendly services for HIV (prevention, treatment, care and support) and SRH and set targets to deliver in the countries.

Agenda 2. Comprehensive Sexuality Education. By September 2015, governments will push for the inclusion of Comprehensive Sexuality Education for YKP using evidence-based tools and guidelines in National Statements.

Agenda 3. Meaningful Youth Participation. By September 2015, governments will actively push forward for inclusion of YKPs in National Policy Processes and creating mechanisms to give agenda-setting ownership to YKPs.

Agenda 4. Legal Environment. By September 2015, governments in countries in Asia and the Pacific will support in their post-2015 positions: equality for young people, including young key populations to create enabling legal and policy environment, which encompasses a rights-based and SOGI-inclusive approach toward providing youth-friendly services in accessing HIV, SRHR, and safe abortion.

Key players, both allies and targets, were also identified in the workshop based on their participation in the post-2015 agenda and their supportiveness with young peoples agenda. These include other youth organizations, CSO partners, government ministries, and bilateral development agencies.

With the help of the agenda and the networks identified, the regional roadmap was formed. Four key international “moments” were selected and activities were identified on each moment, building a stronger advocacy for the inclusion of the four-point agenda into the post-2015 development agenda. The advocacy roadmap targets three important meetings that will feed into the four identified moment, which is UN General Assembly on the post-2015 agenda in September 2015. These three regional moments are the Beijing+20 Programme of Action Review in November 2014, the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS in January 2015, and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals in June 2015. Nilofer K. Habibullah from Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights stressed the importance of these four identified engagements, “it is very strategic for this group to highlight key regional moments and focus their energies on these engagements for a more targeted influence on key Outcome Documents that will help shape the post-2015 development agenda come September.” A set of immediate steps was decided to quickly follow through the process.

The regional advocacy roadmap serves as proof that youth organizations working with and/or for young key populations in Asia can come together and take a united stand in influencing the post-2015 development agenda. Thaw Zin Aye, regional coordinator of Youth LEAD, pointed out, “for the first time ever, young key populations are participating along with youth organizations around the world to show that the post-2015 development agenda has to be owned and led by the young people themselves. After all, these are issues that greatly matter to us, and it is our future that is at stake. Above all, we have to be accountable to it in the next 15 years.”

Jeffry P. Acaba, Education and Communications Lead, Youth LEAD