Pacific MPs stressed the need to provide reproductive health care for young people, as well as give them access to the necessary information and the means to protect themselves from sexual abuse and violence.
"We cannot ignore the facts. Many young people are sexually active, and because of this, they may face risks to their health, including sexual violence," MP Eta Rory said in his remarks during the 2 days People and Sexual Reproductive health rights hosted by NZ parliamentarians Group on Population and Development in collaboration with international family planning and UNFPA in New Zealand on 11 to 12 June 2012.
The group of pacific MPs composed of MPs from Pacific countries and youths representing health organizations in the pacific.
The group discussed population issues and trends in relation to development strategies and policies. The theme of this year's meeting was 'Young People and Sexual reproductive health and rights.'
Vanuatu's four man delegation to the 2 day training was headed by MP Eta Rory.
Mrs Rory emphasized that the Pacific community must empower youth in this regard, as they are not only a growing demographic sector, but also a force for change and progress.
"This generation of youth is the largest in history. Even more important, this generation of youth is shaping history," Mrs Eta stated.
According to the Report on Adolescents and Youth, produced by Advocates for Youths 2009 there are 1.6 billion adolescents and youth aged 12-24 in 2012. The report addresses the demographic trends in the adolescent and youth population and selected aspects of the transition to adulthood that are critical to policy and program planning for development.
The Malekula MP underlined the importance of combating HIV/AIDS among youth, lowering the rates of teenage pregnancies, and protecting children from early marriage ñ the report says that investments in education for adolescents and youth will significantly help prevent very early marriage for girls, and early childbearing, which has negative consequences for the health and wellbeing of both mother and child.
"Sixteen million adolescent girls become mothers every year, and every day, more than 2,000 young people contract HIV," The reported stated.
An adolescent girl struggling in poverty requires different protection than a male college graduate. Our goal is to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for all, regardless of their circumstances" workshop participants heard.
The participants also went through the new report produced by the UN Population UNFPA which states that urgent action is needed to protect young people's right to sexual and reproductive health.
The report highlights the need to give millions of girls access to reproductive health services to avoid unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.
Figures for child marriage and female genital mutilation are also high, the report warns, with up to 60 per cent of sexual assaults involving girls under the age of 16, and more than three million girls worldwide being at risk of female genital mutilation or cutting every year.
"Many assume that all young people have access to information, that most are likely to stay in school, that they postpone entry into the labour force until they finish a degree of education and that they delay marriage and childbearing for when they are ready," UNFPA's Executive Director, Babatunde Osotimehin stated in the report.
"However, this is not true for all adolescents and youth across the world. In fact, many of these issues are still a major challenge for the majority of young people in developing countries."
The MPS also discussed the MDG which the 6th goal is to Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
The eight MDGs range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.
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