The time has arrived to apply an age-integrated approach in policies and programs on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). A people centered approach to SRHR is fundamental for promoting development, fighting poverty and, ultimately, for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that set a new course of global development until 2030. When combined with gender transformative approaches, i.e. taking note of equality and mutual responsibilities among the two sexes, opportunities for increased individual and social well-being are within reach.
Millennials (people born from 1980s to early 2000s) are driving an unprecedented change in society. They will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Historically seen they are the largest youth population and the most educated generation ever in history. They are in the best position to reap the benefits of technology, globalisation and new communication.
The United Nations, as reflected in the SDGs, explicitly prioritize youth, and rightly so. No longer are young people “sitting on the side”. Young people are actively taking action and are increasingly being included in the decision-making process on issues that regard their future. Involving multiple generations in decision taking on social development issues will guarantee inclusive and sustainable decisions.
As Rutgers, we envisage a world where all people, regardless sex and sexual orientation, are able to make their own sexual and reproductive choices, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Meaningful inclusion of young people is essential for succeeding this goal. To put it even stronger: with their increasing numbers and opportunities that are available to them, young people should pro-actively drive the agenda for meaningful inclusion.
The 2014 Inter-Generational Dialogue on SRHR in Uganda contributed to greater mutual understanding among generations leading to ongoing exchange of resources and learning. The 2015 Inter-Generational Dialogue, in which young people participated, furthered to strengthen the linkages between different generations on SRHR needs. Rutgers team was privileged to partake in this dialogue and to equip its partners, such as Reach A Hand, Uganda, to inform and mobilize the youth.