As we celebrate International Youth Day, it is crucial to recognize the immense potential and power of the world's youth in shaping a sustainable future. This year's theme, "green skills," presents an excellent opportunity to highlight the intersectionality of sustainable development and the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of young people. By empowering youth with green skills and ensuring their SRHR, governments and stakeholders can unlock the full potential of this generation and pave the way for a prosperous and equitable future.
The urgent need to address climate change and environmental degradation requires a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. Green skills encompass a range of abilities, from renewable energy technologies to sustainable agriculture practices, waste management, and environmental conservation. By investing in green skills training and education, the young people will be equipped with the necessary tools to build a sustainable economy and combat the challenges posed by climate change.
The link between green skills and SRHR may not be immediately apparent, but the connection lies in their shared foundation of empowerment and inclusivity. Sexual and reproductive health rights are fundamental human rights that enable young people to make informed decisions about their bodies, relationships, and futures. By ensuring access to comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, reproductive healthcare, and protection from violence and discrimination, young people are empowered to take control of their lives and contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.
To achieve this, the state should prioritize the integration of comprehensive sexuality education in school curricula. This education should go beyond biology and include topics such as gender equality, consent, healthy relationships, and responsible sexual behavior. It should be age-appropriate, scientifically accurate, and promote inclusivity and respect for diversity.
There is need to improve access to SRHR Services: By prioritizing the provision of affordable and accessible sexual and reproductive health services for young people. This includes ensuring access to contraception, STI testing, and counseling. Special attention should be given to the youth, marginalized groups, those living in rural areas, and those with disabilities.
On the other hand, young people should raise awareness about the importance of green skills and SRHR. By engaging in dialogues, organizing workshops, and using social media platforms, they can amplify their voices and advocate for policies that foster sustainable development and protect their sexual and reproductive health rights. Besides, governments and stakeholders must create spaces for meaningful youth participation in decision-making processes. By involving young people in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs related to green skills and SRHR, their perspectives and ideas can be incorporated, leading to more effective and inclusive solutions.
MSK is implementing Youth for Health (Y4H) project co-funded by the European Union that works to expand access to life-changing adolescent sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights. The project on reaching the poorest and most marginalized adolescent girls, including those living with disabilities, and
in rural and hard-to-reach areas in Kenya. The project is implemented in partnership with together with Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), Centre for the Study of Adolescence (CSA) Kenya,