Under the theme “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”
Under the theme “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda” over 1500 young people gathered in Sri Lanka from 6 – 10May for the World Conference on Youth 2014 with the common goal of letting the voices of the youth be heard in the global platform with the hope that youth-related issues will be fed into discussions surrounding the post-2015 development framework which will come into effect upon the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals.
The conference was officially declared open at a grand and colorful cultural, ceremony
at the Magam Ruhunupura International Convention Center, Hambantota, Sri Lanka with the participation of H.E President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse, Hon. Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Dullas Alahapperuma, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. John William Ashe and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi. This followed three intense days of plenary sessions, roundtable and panel discussions under the 7 foundations of the conference (Achieving Good Governance & Accountability, Inclusive Youth Participation at All Levels, Youth Rights, Globalization/ Inclusive Youth-Led Development, Ending Systemic Inequalities, Gender Equality and Empowering Marginalized Youth Including Most at Risk Young People) and the 7 themes (Realizing Equal Access to Quality Education, Full Employment and Entrepreneurship, Poverty Eradication and Food Security, Promoting Healthy Lives and Access to Health, Environmental Protection, Emergency Preparedness and Youth Centered Urbanization, Realizing peace, Reconciliation and Ending Violence and Ensuring Inclusive Recreation, Sports and Cultures) at the BMICH, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The success and outcome of the conference is coined the ‘Colombo Declaration’; a framework drafted by the delegates from 169 countries and thereafter adopted on the final day of the conference. It is fair to say that the Declaration is a well-represented document as it is a product of discussions by foreign and Sri Lankan youth delegates, policy-makers, experts, youth leaders, youth from marginalized backgrounds and youth from international youth-led organizations. While not legally binding, this declaration is a guideline for governments, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to ensure that the youth are included into the post-2015 agenda.
As an organization with its mandate on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, FPA Sri Lanka is particularly interested in the theme ‘Promoting Healthy Lives and Access to Health’ and the foundations ‘Empowering Marginalized Youth Including Most at Risk Young People’ and ‘Gender Equality’. With six representatives of FPA Sri Lanka participating as facilitators and volunteers at the conference, we are thankful that the following articles have been adopted into the Declaration, thereby strengthening our mandate,
- Articles 17 - 23 (Promoting healthy lives an Access to Healthcare), particularly,
Article 18: Encourage universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, with the involvement of youth, regardless of marital status, with a particular focus on women, persons living with disabilities and marginalized groups.
Article 20: Provide comprehensive sex education based on full and accurate information for all adolescents and youth, in accordance with national laws and/or policies consistent with their evolving capacities whilst, safeguarding the right of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent, respecting cultural values and religious beliefs.
- Articles 35 - 41(Gender Equality), particularly,
Article 35: Support the adoption of a goal on gender equality, and girls’, women’s, and other gender identities’ empowerment and rights, as well as gender-sensitive targets and indicators to end structural causes of inequality including discriminatory social norms, practices and gender stereotypes that promote inequality between the sexes.
- Articles 46 - 50 (Empowering Marginalized Youth emphasizing the Most At Risk Populations), particularly,
Article 49: Ensure convenient and equal access to health, education, employment opportunities and services for all young people without discrimination of any kind on any basis.
Our funding partner, IPPF-South Asia Regional Office together with FPA Sri Lanka also conducted a Parallel Event at the WCY 2014 under the topic "Who Will Take Responsibility on the Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights of Young People?" and officially launched the IPPF ‘I Decide’ Campaign thereby obtaining petitions of youth from diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
For more information on the conference: www.wcy2014.com