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Global Youth Demanding Action to Improve Sexual Health Services
15andCounting aims to empower all young people to demand better access to sexual health and reproductive services. A petition will be presented to the United Nations in October to pressure governements to deliver on their promises.
• The leading cause of death of girls and young women (15-19 years old) globally is pregnancy and childbirth
• There are 60 million child brides world-wide, increasing to 100 million within ten years
• Each day, some 500,000 young people, mostly young women, are infected with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (excluding HIV)
• Young people (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide
• Only 17 per cent of sexually active young people use contraceptives
• Two million girls are genitally mutilated every year
• Today, more than 200 million women do not have access to the modern contraceptives they desire
Governments across the globe have failed to deliver the promises they made fifteen years ago to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, putting the lives and wellbeing of millions at risk. Shocked by the lack of progress made, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has launched the 15andCounting campaign urging young people around the world to call their governments to task and demand action.
2009 is the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) where 179 governments agreed on a 20-year Programme of Action to improve the sexual and reproductive health of everyone – forming a critical part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. With only five years remaining to meet their commitments, many governments are failing to make progress against these goals, particularly in meeting the needs of young people.
Dr. Gill Greer, Director General of IPPF said “Those born in 1994, when governments all over the world made their commitment, are now 15 years old and have needs, desires and expectations that the world seems unprepared to address.
“It is completely unacceptable that the health and wellbeing of more than 1.5 billion young people is being jeopardized for want of political and financial commitment. Governments have failed to prioritize the sexual health services, education and information young people need to lead healthy, safe and empowered lives; it is critical they review the promises they made and to accelerate programmes to meet the needs of all young people.”
The 15andCounting campaign is asking people all over the world to sign the “Count Me In: Sexual Rights for All” petition to demand better access to sexual health services and education for everyone, which will be presented to the United Nations in October.
The 15andCounting campaign is being delivered on the ground in 176 countries world wide by IPPF’s Member Associations. As well as spreading the message on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the campaign will also work with Instant Messaging providers including MXit, to encourage petition signatures through instant messaging via mobile phone for young people without internet access.
To sign the petition and find out more about the campaign visit www.15andcounting.org
Quotations from Youth Activists
Shaai, Youth Peer Educator, Uganda
“A problem I have as a peer educator is talking with young girls in my village. They often come to me looking for condoms and their main worry is always about unwanted pregnancy, not STIs or HIV. You see, pregnancy is visible and abortion in Uganda is still illegal. If the girls get pregnant they are aware of the problems they will face.”
Ghaith, Youth Volunteer, Syria
“Sexual rights and reproductive health are so important in our society, young people need to know more about these things. Young people have a lot of problems, because they don’t have any kind of information about STIs and HIV/AIDS. So they make a lot of mistakes. They don’t have any idea about how STIs and HIV/AIDS are being transmitted. We tell them which method of contraception would suit them best and how to use it properly. We tell them about sex and relationships education which equips young people with the skills and knowledge they need. We have a lot of young people here who don’t know anything about their rights, about sexual issues and reproductive health.”
Johanna, 15, Sex Worker, Bolivia
“It is not good living in the streets but I would rather be here then at a government institution, where I wouldn’t get to see my friends. I know all about STIs and HIV - Tina (a nurse from CIES, IPPF’s Bolivian affiliate) talks a lot about it. I don’t have a boyfriend but if I did I would try to make him use a condom but that’s not an easy thing to do. I don’t always use a condom with my clients because they don’t want to use one – they pay less if they are made to use one and my boss doesn’t let me either. My friends were taken to an institution last night but I escaped – the police came and put them in a van and took them away – they target us because we are younger and are very strict with us. They do not understand us.”
For images, case studies and interviews with spokespeople please contact Victoria Webster, Aby Farsoun or Grant Richmond-Coggan on
020 7025 7500 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
• The IPPF
The International Planned Parenthood Federation is a federation of non-governmental organizations working in 176 countries worldwide and is a global leader in providing and advocating for the right to improved sexual and reproductive health. IPPF has a strategic focus on working with and delivering for young people. www.ippf.org
• The ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development)
The ICPD Programme of Action aims to make family planning, sexual and reproductive health and information universally available by 2015 as part of a broadened approach to individual health and rights.
• Millennium Development Goals and timeline
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a series of eight targets with a deadline of 2015 for their achievement. The targets range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.
One critical failure of the MDGs was the exclusion, for political reasons, of sexual and reproductive health and rights. This was partially addressed in 2006 when ‘universal access to reproductive health care, including family planning, assisted childbirth and prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS’ was finally included under MDG 5. There is still no MDG dealing specifically with the needs and welfare of young people.
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15andCounting is a campaign to demand better access to sexual health services and education for everyone, regardless of your age, gender or where you live. It is calling on governments to meet the commitments they made 15 years ago at International Conference of Population and Development, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of all people regardless of when or where they were born.
15andCounting seeks to highlight the specific needs of young people who will be most affected by the failure or success to deliver these services.
Fifteen years after ICPD too many governments have failed to make good on their promises. This failure puts the lives and health of tens-of-millions of young people at risk.
Sign the Count Me In petition that will be presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and help persuade governments to promote, protect and fulfil their promise to provide better access to sexual and reproductive health services for all young people.