By Lyka T. Manglal-lan, Reporter, @likeslaya
Ten (10) parallel sessions gathered at the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (7APCRSHR) Youth Fair to discuss the 2014 Manila Challenge. The Youth Fair aimed to discuss views from different countries in order to come up with a declaration of unity for the advancement of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for all. According to Brayant Gonzales of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, the Manila Challenge is the final outcome document of the 7APCRSHR. It is the collaborative output of the delegates who strongly believe in an urgent call for SRHR for all.
The session topics were:
- Humanitarian Response, presented by Anzaira Roxas (Philippines)
- Social Enterprise, Umme Mahbuba (Bangladesh) and Natasha Siaron (Philippines)
- Sustainable Development, Angga Dwi Martha (Indonesia)
- Youth Leadership, Christian Dumangeng (Philippines)
- Youth and Disability, Loc Troung (Vietnam) and Aye Chan Aung (Myanmar)
- Youth, Religion and Culture, Heather Morecroft (Australia) and Sulminda Imao (Philippines)
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Tushar Malik (India) and Rizky Murdiono (Indonesia)
- Mainstreaming CSE in schools, Shambhavi Poudel (Nepal) and Genesis Galap (Philippines)
- Meaningful youth participation on policy and advocacy, Jonathan Monis (Philippines) and Dakshitha Wickremarathne (Sri Lanka)
- Abortion and young people, Shughla Ismail (Pakistan) and Troung Vu (Vietnam)
The topics were as diverse as the cultures and backgrounds of the youth delegates. Despite their differences, they came up with almost the same inputs for the Manila Challenge: conduct more dialogues and multi-sectoral discussions to bridge and negotiate differences in political beliefs, culture, religion, demography and many others; assert more youth representation in advocacy and policy making; strengthen existing services like training of trainers and capacity building in rural areas; and maximize media and social media presence to disseminate information not only to the youth but also to people with disabilities.
There were also suggestions to include provisions for commercial sex workers who are still minors, since this is a vulnerable and commonly overlooked group.
Jeross Aguilar, head of Youth Steering Committee said, “It [the Manila Challenge] is a challenge because it is a call to action for SRHR advocates, the government, non-government organizations, the UN system, academics, activists and, of course, young people.”
The Manila Challenge was drafted before the main conference started. The national steering committee decided to use the word ‘challenge’ instead of ‘declaration’ to emphasize that this is a challenge everybody should aim to uphold in their respective countries and offices.
Read the final version here.