Young people voice their needs and aspirations for improved health and rights

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Six regional consultations organised by Population Foundation of India & The YP Foundation

New Delhi, India [18 March 2019]: Population Foundation of India (PFI) and The YP Foundation (TYPF) organised the sixth regional consultation for young people’s health today in New Delhi. Discussions led by young representatives ranged from issues such as gender-based violence, mental health, access to sexual and reproductive health information, quality of services, access to contraceptive choices, forced marriage and early childbearing.

Youth Representatives from Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana & Rajasthan voiced their needs for improved health and rights. Recommendations from this and five other consultations conducted across Bihar, Manipur, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha with over 150 young people will be presented to relevant policy makers for proactive policymaking and change.

Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Nikita Khanna a member of the core committee formed by PFI and TYPF for taking the lead on the initiative said, “It is critical that India focusses on its adolescents and youth- their health, well-being and rights. Young people are the largest cohorts today and their voices need to be heard so that policy creation, policy change and policy implementation can be centred around their needs and aspirations. It is hoped that these consultations will lead to systemic processes to ensure space and voices of young people in decision making for policies related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health.”   

The consultation in Delhi comprised of key stakeholders in the landscape of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and adolescent health, including government representatives from state health departments; administrators and service providers from healthcare institutions; counselors; frontline workers; representatives from technical agencies; youth-focused CSOs; and young people working on issues of SRHR and adolescent health organisations from Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Key issues for adolescents at the workshop focused on:

  • Increasing accessibility of range of healthcare services available across regions
  • Attitudes of healthcare providers as a barrier to accessing healthcare
  • Myths and preconceived notions around health-related issues and how they often impede access to modern medicines and services
  • Lack of availability of evidence-based and stigma-free SRHR information leading to incomplete knowledge and incorrect perceptions around issues faced by adolescents
  • Early marriage as a hindrance to good health and well-being of adolescent boys and girls
  • Absence of safe spaces for adolescents to openly discuss questions regarding physical and emotional changes they go through.
  • Lack of programmes to address issues around the mental health of adolescents.  

Young people constitute about one-third of India’s population, with about 365 million in the age group of 10-24 years. For India to realise the much talked about demographic dividend, it is essential that adolescents and youngsters have the information, agency and access so that they can make informed sexual and reproductive choices.

The regional consultations are aimed at the development of adolescent and youth-friendly guidelines to enhance access to sexual and reproductive health services. Designed as an inclusive, evidence-based, multi-stakeholder and participatory bottoms-up approach, they bring together voices & efforts across and among young people, community members, civil society, donor agencies, frontline service providers as well as the government to define guidelines to address current gaps/barriers. PFI and TYPF will be hosting a national consultation in New Delhi next month, where a consolidated set of recommendations from the various regional consultations will be shared and concrete next steps planned.

The consultations will therefore contribute to tailoring national-level policies in India cutting across socio-economic situations of states and of diverse communities; in particular address the specific needs and aspirations of young people in these contexts.

About Population Foundation of India

Population Foundation of India (PFI) is a national NGO, which promotes and advocates for the effective formulation and implementation of gender sensitive population, health and development strategies and policies. The organisation was founded in 1970 by a group of socially committed industrialists under the leadership of the late JRD Tata and Dr Bharat Ram. PFI addresses population issues within the larger discourse of empowering women and men, so that they are able to take informed decisions related to their fertility, health and well-being. It works with the government, both at the national and state levels, and with NGOs, in the areas of community action for health, urban health, scaling up of successful pilots and social and behaviour change communication. PFI is guided by an eminent governing board and advisory council comprising distinguished persons from civil society, the government and the private sector. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.populationfoundation.in

About The YP Foundation

The YP Foundation (TYPF) is a youth run and led organisation that supports and develops youth leadership to advance the rights of young women, girls and other marginalised youth. The foundation’s aim is to enable young people to internalise and engage in social justice, equity and social change processes. To do this, TYPF builds young people’s feminist and human rights based perspective on social change, connects them with opportunities to lead and create on ground impact on relevant issues and enables them to address systemic gaps by policy and public advocacy based on their on ground experience. For more information, please visit www.theypfoundation.org