DSW Kenya’s engagements with ICPD25: Accelerating the Promise
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). To commemorate this, the governments of Kenya and Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to work towards the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. The Summit, held November 12-14, 2019, centred on ending unmet need for family planning information and services, preventable maternal deaths, and sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
DSW Kenya was involved in the preparations of the Kenya Country Commitments. By securing a seat at the planning committee, DSW Kenya was able to influence the tone of the country commitments and ensure that reproductive health was articulated as a major priority for Kenya, particularly putting an end to teenage pregnancies, FGM and harmful practices and ensuring access to SRH information and services to all women who need it.
DSW Kenya supported the mobilisation of young people to speak with one voice on the necessary commitments and actions to ensure that the government is accountable to the youth population. As a result, there was substantial attention by the Kenyan political leadership at the Summit on the issues affecting young people as well as the high number of Kenyan youths on the panels/sessions, where they addressed what needs to be done to benefit from the demographic transition occurring in the next decade.
DSW Kenya also facilitated the participation of 15 Champions from DSW Kenya programme areas in a youth preconference event that was jointly organised by youth-serving organisations. The event increased the participants’ capacities for advocacy and positioned them as active agents of the change they want to see, determining accountability actions for Nairobi and beyond.
Together with Pathfinder International, the National Council on Population and Development (NCPD), UNFPA, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AU), DSW Kenya organised a concurrent session at the Summit titled “Showcasing and celebrating African achievements: Cairo to Addis Ababa to Nairobi and beyond”. The panel brought together speakers from Cairo to discuss the issues that informed the first conference in Cairo and share lessons drawn from the last 25 years. This session was key to charting the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. The Executive Director, Renate Baehr, was one of the panellists on this high-level panel. She used this space to advocate for increased investments for reproductive health and prioritisation of family planning.
During the ICPD, DSW Kenya hosted the State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, at Githurai Youth Empowerment Centre. There, Dr. Flachsbarth learned about the experiences of young people in Kenya’s informal settlements and how DSW’s engagements with them have helped them earn livelihoods and access reproductive health information and services for informed decision-making.
To ensure that the momentum achieved at the Summit is sustained, DSW Kenya is now engaged in discussions on what comes next. DSW Kenya is one of the few organisations that are now leading discussions on the Action Plan that will deliver on the Kenya Country Commitments. The Action Plan is to be finalised and discussed in early 2020 and will provide a strong basis for accountability to the Summit’s promises.
Celebrating International Youth Day
On August 9, 2019, the Link Empowerment Initiative and its partners hosted the International Youth Day held at the Githurai Youth Center. The theme of the event and of 2019 International Youth Day globally was ‘Transforming Education’. Over 1500 people were in attendance. The focus of the event was how access to sexual reproductive health and empowerment among youth impacts access to education. All speakers called on the government to invest in life skills education for young people. Using theatre, drama and arts, various youth groups used the occasion to impart information on sexual reproductive health.
The presence of popular local celebrity DNG helped reinforce the need for society to acknowledge the fact that young people are having sex as a step towards eliminating the negative implications of irresponsible sexual behaviour. He highlighted the importance of contraceptives, particularly the use of condoms as the most effective way to avoid unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This message was also reiterated by Well Told Story through their youth-friendly magazine Shujaaz. Shujaaz has started a programme that recruits youth to champion for responsible sexual behaviour.