Members of Parliament from Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) came together in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 16 – 17 November, to discuss the landmark 2013 ESA Commitment; which saw 20 ESA countries committing to scaling-up comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.
The meeting was hosted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum, UNESCO and UNFPA in east and southern Africa, with financial support from the Embassy of Sweden and Norway in Lusaka, Zambia. It 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 eastern and southern Africa, 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 ESA region.
“With a large proportion of population under the age of 24, the eastern and southern African 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 organisations 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 Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). The event saw the launch of the 2013-2015 Progress Review on the ESA Commitment (English, French, Portuguese).