Eunice Mayengela, one of the youth representatives to meet MEPs in Nairobi. 

DSW youth representatives from across Tanzania and Kenya met with a delegation from the European Parliament at the ICPD25 Summit in Nairobi. The delegation represented the Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Development Committees and was co-chaired by Evelyn Regner (S&D, AT), Chair of the Women’s Rights and Gender equality Committee and Norbert Neuser (S&D, DE), second Vice-Chair of the Development Committee.

High prevalence of teenage pregnancy and the need for comprehensive sexuality education were two key issues discussed at the meeting. In Kenya, 15% of all adolescent women (15-19 year old) have already given birth, and 3% are pregnant with their first child [1]. Youth representatives shared their experiences of the consequences of unmet need for family planning and how they’re trying to bridge that gap with youth friendly services.

Evelyn Regner said: ”The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality supports and commends the work and commitment shown by civil society organisations, especially the youth organisations, in the region working tirelessly to assert the rights of girls and women. It is imperative to ensure that in today’s world, all young people have access to comprehensive sexual education and that boys and men are involved in all our efforts to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights. We will not accept anything less than that.”

The youth, who represented diverse regions of the two countries agreed unanimously that comprehensive sexuality education is a crucial tool in achieving the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in their communities. As well as better education, tackling the social stigma and misinformation that surrounds menstruation and contraceptive use was another high priority.

Charles Ruben, a youth representative from Tanzania said: “If we are to achieve the goals set out at the Nairobi Summit – zero unmet need for family planning information and services, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls – we have to ensure that youth are empowered to advocate for policies – from the community level to the government level – that fulfill the commitments of ICPD25.”

Youth representative Charles Reuben with Pierette Herzberger-Fofana MEP