Dear decision makers,
As representatives of the youth in Europe and Central Asia, we come to you with a message of both hope and frustration. Following the recent ICPD30 regional meeting at the UN headquarters in Geneva, we are compelled to share our thoughts and aspirations. It’s been five years since we participated in ICPD25, where our speeches were met with applause. However, in 2023, as youth delegates, we brought forward new ideas, opinions, and urged action through four impassioned speeches. While we appreciate the congratulations we received, we need more than just words. We are here to advocate for change, to address the issues that affect us, our sisters and brothers, and our communities.
A Call for More Than Applause:
We acknowledge the positive developments, but we firmly believe that more needs to be done. We see our sisters and brothers being criminalized, stigmatized, and discriminated against from the moment they are born. The struggle continues for those with diverse sexual orientations, disabilities, diseases, and labels imposed by previous generations.
The Need for Bold Action:
While we appreciate the efforts of some countries planning to provide free menstrual products in 2024, we believe this falls short of what is possible. As residents of Europe and Central Asia, we yearn for more significant, transformative change.
As a refugee living in Europe and as a person living with HIV (PLHIV) who belongs to the LGBT community, I can attest to the challenges we face. Until I acquired the necessary paperwork to prove my identity, I encountered significant obstacles in accessing education, healthcare, food, and employment. For over three months after arriving in your country, I had to grapple with psychological and medical struggles. This situation changed only after securing insurance. I repeatedly sought help from officials and, loudly, declared my HIV status, but I was met with silence. It was only after I claimed my status that I was told I could receive free medicine and a government hospital health pass. As an asylum seeker at that time, I needed to understand the available services and resources.
Inclusivity for Refugee and Immigrant Youth:
During the meeting, we called for the opening of decision-making platforms to refugee and immigrant youth as a way to ensure inclusivity for all nationalities’ youth.
The Importance of Freedom from Violence:
We recognize the importance of living free from violence, as our ideas and human rights are interconnected. We need a peaceful environment, yet we see policies that perpetuate war and crime, resulting in suffering, such as in Ukraine and Gaza.
Accessibility for Disabled Individuals:
Our disabled sisters and brothers face difficulties even when entering the UN building. This highlights the need for greater accessibility and inclusion.
ICPD30 is more than just a conference for us; it is a call for action. We desire an equal society where we can make decisions about our own bodies, minds, and the laws that govern us. Harmful traditions and dangerous practices, such as using cloth hangers for abortions due to shame and societal norms, must be eliminated. We insist that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are essential for all. We implore you not to force us to repeat our pleas. We are tired of waiting for change; we demand it now. It’s time for our voices to be heard, for a brighter future for the youth of Europe and Central Asia.
Youth Delegation – ICPD30
Advocacy Lead – The PACT