At the UN, surrounded by amazing and skilled delegates and lobbyist. All working to make sure that by the end of this week we have a strong UN resolution on adolescents and youth, adopted by the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 2012). And after preparations, travels, strategizing, and meetings…
I want to take a step back for a reality check. Hoping it may energize myself, and who ever you are reading this, be it a youth activist home in Norway, here in New York or even a head of a delegation. The question is, why are we here?
When this meeting reaches its end, I should off course summarize to you the outcome and contextualize it politically. Today though, I am feeling a little philosophical. It came over me at the side event hosted by Norway, Finland, Kenya and the IPPF, on “Comprehensive, sexuality education” (read more about it here). Mr. Jani Toivola, Member of Parliament of Finland, set the tone for the seminar by sharing his personal experience of being raised as white even though his skin color is black. Explaining to us how adolescents and youth need guidance in developing their identities, as well as relation to their own body and mind. Comprehensive sexuality education should guide us in evolving as young, sexual and proud.
Relating this to my own experience, I recognize the journey Toivola talked about, consisting of many lessons and emotions. Demanding my right to define and express my own body and mentality. Expressing f.ex. that my body is a woman, not a shadow of my skeleton-syndrome. Though health workers gave that a lot of attention when I was a child. Neither need I be ashamed of speaking up about mental health, if that is what’s needed for placing myself on safer ground. I’d rather become empowered, as a young person knowing how to seek relevant information and ways to interact in the global society.
It makes sense to be at the CPD tirelessly discussing adolescents and youths’ sexual and reproductive health rights, because my own friends and peers;
- are homosexual or lesbian or trans
- have had abortions
- have been raped
- are facing HIV/AIDS
- have healthy relationships
- want to become parents
- … the list could go on
It is our lives we are talking about! It is about enabling young people to live healthy lives, be active in society and work life.
So even if we as young people are NOT finished studying, not in a position of power, not up to date on all the statistics, not professional negotiators etc. Even if we don’t intend to become professional policy makers, as I am not sure I ever will. WE understand the core substance of this meeting. We are here watching the process, offering our input, making new friendships and filling ourselves with inspiration. The youth staying up till 02 in the morning, waiting in the hall in case delegates have any needs (be it food or a hug) are amazing! And it is so inspiring to see all the young people contributing to lively up side event panels. Bringing reality from the ground to the UN premises.
There are two more days to go, the negotiation climate is heating up around controversial language. Stay tuned and lets GO, GO, GO!!!
LNU youth delegat