The ongoing discussions of the post 2015 development agenda is a fantastic opportunity to address gaps in order to accelerate progress in important areas. I would like to draw your attention to some crucial issues for adolescents and youth.
As an NGO representative in the Norwegian delegation, I would like to stress the importance of civil society and in particular the participation of youth organisations. We need their knowledge and experience to inform the post 2015 agenda, and in the longer run to work for sustainable development.
We have a large population of young people entering sexual and reproductive life. Young people. Full of resources. They possess knowledge and experience that should inform the decisions of today. They are the future leaders of the world. They can contribute to economic growth and sustainable development.
But - young people can only contribute to development if their human rights are fulfilled. They need to have access to quality education, jobs, freedom from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and freedom from violence. Young people’s reproductive and sexual rights need to be fulfilled, in order for them to build safe sexual relationships, and when time comes - form families by their own choice.
To achieve this all governments should provide comprehensive sexuality education to all adolescents and youth. Research has shown that girls and boys who receive this vital information at an early stage are more likely to postpone their sexual debut and protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Equally important, young girls will stay longer in school, which creates an important basis for their future empowerment.
Additionally, all governments should ensure youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services that are free of charge, confidential, accessible and suitable for girls, boys and young people of diverse gender identities. The services should include the full range of safe, effective, and affordable methods of modern contraception, including access to safe and legal abortion. In Norway we have evidence that providing contraceptives to young girls free of charge has resulted in reduced abortion rates.
Let me end by underlining that the fulfillment of young people’s reproductive and sexual rights is a precondition for their valuable contribution, which we rely on. Investing in youth is investing in the future.