by Sophie Beria, YouAct Steering Committee Member
On the last week of September, DSW (The German Foundation for World Population), Dance4Life, and CHOICE for youth and sexuality hosted a youth meet up with the members of the European Parliament, policy advisors, and assistants from the political groups in Brussels. The aim was to create space for a diverse group of youth advocates, and activists to bring forward the pressing issues connected to the Sustainable Development Goals in our countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Nepal, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Netherlands, and Georgia.
The three SDGs that we focused on where goals 3, 4, and 5, Good health and well-being, Quality Education, and Gender equality respectively. Prior to our meeting, we all did research, and prepared to the best of our ability, with great support, and help from the representatives of DSW, Dance4Life, and CHOICE. On September 25 and 26th, we had workshops on media visibility and storytelling, during which we shared our experiences, and regional challenges regarding sexuality education, taboos, gender equality, and youth involvement. We worked in groups of three, each group preparing a presentation on the SDG of our choice, writing down concrete messages, and brainstorming about possible solutions for our issues. Two Steering Committee members of YouAct, Sophie Beria, and Anuki Mosiashvili were attending the meetings and joined SDG 4 and 5 working groups respectively.
On September 26th, World Contraception Day, we had our meeting in the European Parliament. The meeting was fruitful, as it was a great opportunity to gain experience in regional advocacy, as well as deepen our analysis of gender equality, and education linkages to SRHR. High-level discussions and debates on SDG related processes also took place, during which the advocates addressed the mechanisms of accountability in order to measure the progress of the cross-cutting targets related to gender, elimination of discrimination, accessing sexual and reproductive services, and education.
This was an amazing opportunity for YouAct to connect with other regions and to hear about similar, but also particular challenges and ways of working when it comes to sexual and reproductive justice. The SDG framework kept us all grounded and we discussed how all the Sustainable Development goals are interconnected, thus, realizing one of them paves the road to realizing the rest. Many important questions were also raised during our meeting: How do we involve more young people in the decision-making processes? How do we lobby more effectively? How do we keep our states accountable for realizing the SDGs?
YouAct, as well as DSW, Dance4Life, and CHOICE are committed to keeping this discussion going. We are taking the lessons learned from our meetup into consideration, and are strategizing for the advancement of our lobbying, ensuring that SDGs stay on Europe’s political agenda and are furthered in negotiations and high-level discussions.