Paying Attention to “Youth Truths” on International Youth Day
Published on August 1, 2022
August 12 – International Youth Day – provides one day of the year when we truly focus on the needs, thoughts, and promise of young people. The theme for 2022 is Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages, a reminder that, as we let young people lead us, we also support them. Each generation improves upon the blueprint for the future they inherit and nurtures it for the generation to come.
This year, to celebrate International Youth Day, USAID MOMENTUM has invited two youth organizations that partner with USAID MOMENTUM —Shabab le Shabab in South Sudan and Youth for Sustainable Development (YSD), Machakos Chapter, in Kenya–to join us as we amplify their voices to new audiences through the MOMENTUM Twitter account. We spoke with young champions from both organizations to share some of their thoughts on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in advance of International Youth Day. They were happy to share some Youth Truths.
Anna Alimocan, Program Officer, Shabab Le Shabab, South Sudan, a MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience partner:
“I have worked with both young men and women on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues like HIV, menstrual health management, and gender-based violence in South Sudan. Through my work with youth, I realized that there was a huge gap in SRH services which has led to outcomes like high rates of HIV infections and unintended pregnancies. I am passionate about what I do because I am contributing to the well-being of young women and men who are the future of my country.”
South Sudan is not only the youngest country in the world, but 73.4 percent of the population is under the age of 30. The views and concerns of young people are important considerations when policies and programs are being developed because they affect most of the population. Teen pregnancy is estimated at 30% among girls 15-19 years old. Close to half (45%) of South Sudanese young women marry before the age of 18. (UNFPA, 2022)
Alimocan continued, “I grew up at a time where there were no SRH youth friendly spaces. However, I maneuvered through my challenges with support from my parents who were very open and friendly towards me. I advise my friends to seek information and services from SRH youth friendly spaces like we plan to set up at Shabab Le Shabab Health Alliance.”
Alex Mavuti, Deputy Executive Director, Youth for Sustainable Development Machakos Chapter, Kenya, a partner organization of MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership:
“I can inform not only my peers but also parents on the best ways to interact. I want to be a voice for those who cannot open up and speak about issues affecting them. Young people are classified as a vulnerable group. It’s high time the older advocates understood that with the current changes and intergenerational gaps, we cannot use the same means they did to educate, inform, and control behavior. Young people do understand their problems and can give the best solutions. They need to be given a real chance, safe space, and opportunities to express themselves.
“I want to be a role model, a believer of dynamics, change, and diversity. I would love to tell my own children someday that I was part of transforming our communities to ensure they receive comprehensive sexuality education. I would love to show them posts on social media and have them know how being part of a team and having passion for sexual and reproductive health helped me to be in charge of my own health and decisions.”
Don’t forget to tune into USAID MOMENTUM’s Twitter account on Thursday, August 11, and Friday, August 12, to hear more “Youth Truths” from Shabab le Shabab and YSD Machakos.