The Youth Action Plan is a big step forward, since it is the first EU external policy framework which specifically focuses on youth. Being an sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocate I am glad that topics like Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and access to SRHR are recognized as a priority for young people’s empowerment. It is important to mention that the EU aims to promote affordable and youth friendly SRHR services of good quality.
Having researched the topic of Sexuality Education and having participated in numerous projects related to this specific issue, I can safely say that amongst the younger generation of Kyrgyzstan there is a lack of accurate knowledge and information about SRHR and limited access to youth-friendly services. Nonetheless, young people take the initiative to improve the situation in their country, for example there are young activists and bloggers who produce creative content that raises awareness about SRHR amongst their peers. Even though young people have a desire to implement their projects and initiatives, there should be more funding opportunities available for them.
Here it is important to highlight the crucial role that the European Union plays in unlocking this potential. To achieve the ambitions of the Youth Action Plan, the EU should fund youth-led initiatives which would help young people make positive changes in their communities.
Even though, young people together with the IPPF’s member association have developed a guide for school teachers on providing accurate information on SRHR within the school curriculum, its implementation has never been monitored by Kyrgyz officials. Therefore, it is vital for the EU Delegation to include SRHR and CSE in their policy dialogues with partner countries such as Kyrgyzstan.
Words by Liana Abdikarimova, youth advocate for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). For the past 5 years she has been involved in the work of the Member Association of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in Kyrgyzstan as a peer-to-peer educator and an active volunteer. During her studies she focused on researching where young people acquire knowledge on sexuality and reproductive health topics and whether these sources provide accurate information.