Today marks a new dawn!
It is indeed a reality and phenomenon that the youth of our country continue to remain the majority of todays’ society. Therefore, it is my pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of over 70% of Kenya’s population.
Today is a special day, one to be marked in the books of history. Young people shift the narrative of our country. For the first time in Kenya’s history young people through Y-ACT Youth in Action a youth-led initiative of Amref Health Africa lead and support government efforts to promote youth-led community ownership on teenage pregnancies.
Through the Sauti Sasa Campaign a youth-led advocacy campaign that calls upon duty bearers, including high level political leadership in Kenya, to adopt a youth-led multi-sectoral community wide approach in addressing teenage pregnancies in Kenya.
Today as we launch the Sauti Sasa Voices Report we call for multi-stakeholder commitment to protect and promote the rights of all young people. The report offers a snapshot of the path ahead to end teenage pregnancies through youth inclusivity in solution-oriented processes.
I stand here before you all to affirm that we young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect our lives. I emphasize that Youth are uniquely placed to bring positive change in society.
Therefore, through this statement, we build on the rising numbers of evidence showing the importance of meaningful engagement of young people in the national efforts on ending teenage pregnancies in Kenya.
We acknowledge the importance of engaging early adolescents and appreciate the additional precautions it may take to secure their meaningful engagement and ensure their safety.
This Statement seeks to galvanize national and county communities. We are asking for a community based approach to ensure that young people are meaningfully engaged and participate in the development and implementation of processes in the fight to end teenage pregnancies.
I call upon policy makers, parents, teachers, religious leaders and all partners to move beyond the recognition and identification of young people solely as beneficiaries.
The youth voice must be unequivocally acknowledged as an equal partner at all levels of governance if we are ever to achieve the sustainable development goals.
It time for stakeholders to act on the high ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and guarantee to include young people in the curation of solutions that affect them.
Therefore, as young people and signatories of this Statement, through the launch of the Sauti Sasa Youth Voices report call for;
- Expansion of sexuality education curriculum currently being developed and reviewed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) into the broader community construct and promote ownership among parents, Guardians, religious leaders and older peers by orienting them to augment and spread the messages on sexual responsibility among adolescents.
- More investment in advocating against harmful cultural practices including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and ‘beading’ that have contributed to high rates of teenage pregnancies in a number of regions and have proven to be detrimental to girl child development.
- Investment in robust protection systems for adolescents facing any form of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) by implementing clear structures for reporting, profiling and documenting sexual and gender-based violence at the community level; prioritizing and accelerating court cases on child defilement and waiving all fees related to the same.
- A reduction in the high rates of transactional sex, start by making sanitary products available at no cost to young girls in and out of schools.
Dear adolescents and youth advocates- those represented here today and across the nation. I want to call upon you all to join Sauti Sasa Movement. This is our platform!
The resilient spirit and ingenuity we young people possess simply must be harnessed in the second phase of the Sauti Sasa campaign at all levels of decision-making.
With this aspirations, today we arise and grasp our fist to build a better country.
If we are equipped, we have the power, to reimagine tomorrow, with the tenacity, innovation and courage to disrupt every negative cycle on teenage pregnancies in Kenya.
Y-ACT, Amref Health Africa and all our partners we young people acknowledge your efforts and today we say thank you for this platform. The Sauti Sasa Voices Report speaks of your bold commitment to ending teenage pregnancies and ensuring youth participation in key processes that shape our changing nation.
By harnessing youth power, as a country teenage pregnancies will be a narrative of the past and these gains irreversible.