Building the Capacity of Africa’s Youth Networks to Advocate for Sexual Reproductive Health

2nd June 2021
YAB

Young people are at the very heart of Africa’s development agenda. With over 75% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people being under the age of 35, and 453 million Africans aged 15 - 35 years (African Union), it is evident that Africa’s future significantly lies in its youth.

Africa’s youth face however various power dynamics that influence their meaningful participation in decision making and because of this, it is essential to help them build their capacity to meaningfully contribute to policy-making processes at the national, regional, and global levels. The African Youth Charter’s Article 11 (1) outlines African States’ commitments to ensuring youth participation in all aspects of society, including at the Parliamentary level, and to developing and supporting mechanisms for youth participation at all levels of decision-making and participation in matters that affect them. 

To this end, the IPPF Africa Regional Office (ARO), in collaboration with the Youth Division of the AU Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) established the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) for Sexual and Reproductive Health in 2017. The YAB is a model of youth leadership that facilitates youth participation in continental policy interventions and links them to national advocacy for domestication and implementation. It is comprised of 10 members competitively selected from youth networks across the five regions of Africa (East, West, Central, South, and North).  

Based on the success of the above model, in April 2021, the IPPF sub-office at the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) facilitated an advocacy skills training and experience sharing sessions on Advocacy, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) between the YAB and youth networks in IPPF Member Associations (MAs) in Togo, Ghana, Ethiopia, Morocco, Zambia, and Burundi.

Training sessions were held virtually from the IPPF side and on-site with facilitation and presentations in the six African countries. The objective of these sessions was to strengthen youth networks' capacities and knowledge to advocate for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and adolescent SRHR using the existing regional legal and policy frameworks. The sessions also included sharing experiences and highlighting the YAB members' advocacy experiences at the national level, regional and global levels, and the use of digital platforms to advocate for SRHR.

yab

This activity attracted more than 40 youth representatives from different countries, recording over 200 participants in all six sessions. The training enabled participants to learn about the domestication of CSE and SRHR related continental policies and initiatives, including the roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend, identify gaps, and provide recommendations for the effective domestication of these policies.

The training also provided an opportunity to highlight youth initiatives in Africa that have used technological and innovative solutions to promote SRHR and Sexuality Education, for example, the Info AdoJeunes App developed by the Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF), IPPF MA in Togo. The sessions provided useful insights from specific countries for enhancing active and meaningful participation in SRHR policymaking and future opportunities for replicating these models at the national level.

yab

The huge youthful population in Africa means that they hold significant power to influence and to create a positive impact in the ‘’Africa we Want’’. Youth advocates’ call at the end of the training sessions included the provision of more opportunities, learning programs to build and contribute to the development of the youth advocates on SRHR, the widening of partnerships with international organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to adopt a common Advocacy approach on SRHR, and the creation of a sustainable platform of exchange to reinforce the youth advocacy work at the national and regional levels.  

{1} African Union Commission. African youth charter. Addis Ababa: African Union Commission; 2006.

For more information about the work of IPPF Africa Region, connect with us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.