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The Africa Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) General Assembly was convened from 7 - 9 November 2017, with around 50 young people from 20 East and Southern Africa (ESA) countries in attendance, representing different youth associations and organizations that have interest and work on issues around adolescent sexual and reproductive health and youth development.

The meeting commenced with the welcoming remarks from Mrs. Bettina Maas, UNFPA Ethiopia Country Representative. During her speech, she emphasized the importance of investing in youth, especially on universal access to education, increased access to employment, prevention of Gender Based Violence and HIV, unintended pregnancies and supporting young people to work together and network on a common issues. In closing she re-affirmed commitment from UNFPA and other UN agencies, including UNESCO and UNAIDS, to work with AfriYAN and other adolescent and youth leaders to promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in Africa.

Ms. Tikala Itaya, outgoing President of AfriYAN, briefed participants on 2017 programmes and activities and spoke on progress on nominations for the new executive committee, establishment of regional secretariat and chapters in different countries, preparation of key documents, and representation of the network in different regional and global platforms to make sure that the voice of young people is heard.

Participants presented progress in their respective countries including challenges and key achievements.

Key achievements included;

  • The development of strategic plan for the Uganda Country Chapter,
  • Working with religious leaders in Comoros,
  • Working with Government and other stakeholders in Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar,
  • Conducting different advocacy sessions in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Sudan and,
  • Conducting various campaigns on ending child marriage, age of consent and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues.

Key challenges shared included;

  • Few platforms that promote and support youth participation,
  • Capacity limitations among AfriYAN members,
  • Sustaining the network at regional and country levels, including registering country chapters.

The General Assembly was an inclusive space, with wide participation from young people with disabilities, young people living with HIV and from key populations. In their key remarks, they reiterated the need for an inclusive and participatory approach in AfriYAN so as to effectively meet global and regional goals. They stressed that the network should work on extensive advocacy to make sure that policies, programs and interventions have considered the needs of these groups.

As one of the main supporters of the gathering, UNFPA delivered a presentation on existing laws and policies concerning SRHR and existing opportunities that AfriYAN can utilize in youth targeted advocacy activities.

There was also active engagement of partners that are working on adolescent and youth development, child marriage and SRHR. A representative of Girls Not Brides briefed the meeting on their interventions on child marriage in Africa. During the presentation, Ms. Megan MacGarry stressed the importance of youth engagement to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 5, target 5.3 on ending harmful practices, including child marriage. Other partners included the Dutch Government, the European Union, IPPF, She Decides Initiative and.

The election of the next executive committee and the new President was one of the key agendas of the General Assembly. The election was facilitated by Mr. Samuel Kissi from the UNFPA Liaison Office to the AU and ECA and a former AfriYAN Member. Six young peoples out of 11 candidates were elected to be in the new Executive Committee. Following the election, the committee convened and elected their President and Secretary General, in addition to allocating roles to other members.

For more information on the The Africa Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development, please visit: