01.12.2016 - Education Sector

Parliamentarians in Eastern and Southern Africa back landmark commitment on HIV prevention

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Members of Parliament from Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) have given their backing to the landmark 2013 ESA Commitment; which commits 20 ESA countries to scaling-up comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

The commitment came at a meeting hosted by the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum, UNESCO and UNFPA in ESA, with financial support from the Embassy of Sweden and Norway in Lusaka, Zambia.

Held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 16-17 November the meeting brought together Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees responsible for gender, education and health from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, with technical experts from UNESCO and UNFPA.

Dr Patricia Machawira, UNESCO’s Regional HIV and Health Education Advisor for ESA, welcomed the engagement and interest of the parliamentarians in advocating for reduced HIV infections, teenage pregnancy, school-related gender-based violence, and child marriage among young people in the region.

Young population offers major opportunity

“With a large proportion of the population under the age of 24, the ESA region has a major opportunity to ensure that the next generation of active, adult citizens is able to contribute to social, economic and human development,” Dr Machawira said. 

“However, with the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in the world, coupled with high rates of new HIV infections, particularly among young women and low levels of HIV knowledge this opportunity may not be fully realized.”

The attending Members of Parliament committed to complementing the work of national ministries of education, youth and others, development partners, civil society organizations and communities to strengthen advocacy for CSE in parliaments and with the public through more effective use of questions in parliaments, motions, ministerial statements and public hearings.

The meeting builds on and gives momentum to the resolutions of the July 2016 high-level government dialogue Fulfilling Our Promise To Young People Today, which marked progress made since the endorsement of the ESA Commitment. The event, held on the sidelines of the 2016 AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa , brought together Ministers and representatives from government, development, and civil society from across ESA. The event saw the launch of the 2013-2015 Progress Review on the ESA Commitment (English, French, Portuguese).

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