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Young Women First! Regional Inter-generational Dialogue

NYANGA, 3 December 2012 (SAfAIDS Media) - More than 150 young women and members of the High Level Taskforce on Women and Girls in Southern Africa will gather in Nyanga, Zimbabwe from the 5th-6th of December 2012, for a Regional Inter-generational Dialogue. The dialogue will provide a platform to discuss critical Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues affecting young women including early and child marriages, sex trafficking, sexual violence related to dating and other key topical issues.


Sexual and reproductive health is considered to be an essential element of good health and human development as people have the right to make their own choices and decisions, based on sound information. Reproductive rights on the other hand must be protected, promoted and fulfilled if sexual and reproductive health outcomes are to be improved, particularly for the poor and vulnerable. A rights perspective highlights the importance of empowering people to take their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives as this strengthens the ability of poor and vulnerable people to demand and use services and information and to be heard. It also puts emphasis on equitable access to services and women’s empowerment.


Like most parts in Sub Saharan Africa, Sexual and Reproductive health challenges remain a major challenge for both girls and women in southern Africa often leading to negative effects such as unsafe abortions, unplanned pregnancies, increased number of sexual violation cases, new STI and HIV infections, with some of these challenges being embedded in the social and cultural fabric of our societies. While strides have been made to address these challenges, the progress has been slow for many developing countries.


Young people are particularly vulnerable to problems of sexual and reproductive health. While this fact is widely recognized, it is rarely translated into accessible services for young people for example the poorest women start their childbearing between the ages of 15 and 19 in many developing countries among other challenges.


Experience shows that, given a choice, people want the benefits that sexual and reproductive health offers. The increased choices and opportunities, especially for women, that come from better and more accessible sexual and reproductive health services and education, have led millions of people in many countries to opt for smaller families. But huge inequities remain. The poorest people have the most to gain from improved access but are least able to use and benefit from available services. Priority, clear goals and resources for sexual and reproductive health are needed within Poverty Reduction Strategies and other development plans.


It is against this background that SAfAIDS is planning to hold a regional intergenerational dialogue with the young women involved in the Young Women First! Programme together with the members of the High level Task Force on Women and Girls and other highly esteemed women from other sectors. Amongst these eminent women is the Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Thokozani Khupe and the Former Zambian First Lady, Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa. One of the anticipated outcomes is for young women and policy makers to identify strategies and develop a work plan to address Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) concerns for young women. The young women will present communiqués on topical SRHR issues affecting them in their respective countries.



Young Women First:  Beatrice Savadye +263 4 336193 /4 or 307898


Young4Real: Renias Mundingi +263 4 336193 /4 or 307898


SAfAIDS Media: Tariro Chikumbirike and Ingrid Kahari +263 4 336193 /4 or 307898



Young Women First: The Young Women First! Programme is a SAfAIDS initiative that seeks to mobilize and empower young women, through provision of support that leads them to reclaiming their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). It provides a platform to raise awareness of SRHR issues and to speak on behalf of young women and girls at continental level, linking with Country, Regional and International platforms such as the African Union, UN Women, and UNGASS.The programme is being implemented in Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Young4Real: The Young4Real programme focuses on promoting access to sexual and reproductive health and rights among young people and adolescents in Zimbabwe. Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is important for young people due to a number of factors that include inadequate access to youth friendly services and limited advocacy and awareness. The project aims to contribute to the achievement of three MDGs; promoting gender equality (MDG3), improving maternal health (MDG5) and preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS (MDG6).


SAfAIDS: Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) is a regional non-profit organization based in Harare, Zimbabwe, with country offices in Pretoria, South Africa, Lusaka, Zambia, Manzini, Swaziland and Maputo, Mozambique. For the last 10 years, SAFAIDS has implemented programs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe SAfAIDS mission is to be a centre of excellence that promotes effective and ethical development responses to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, HIV (including PMTCT) and TB through Advocacy, Communication and Social mobilization