Bangladesh needs youth engagement to build a sustainable platform to push for young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights, speakers at the Bangladesh Second National Youth Conference on Family Planning said on Wednesday.
The country needs young active advocates to learn and share experiences on different key dialogues around reproductive health in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5, they said.
The conference is being hosted by SERAC-Bangladesh and the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) with the participation of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Partners in Population and Development (PPD), Right Here Right Now Bangladesh, and many other international and local NGOs on Wednesday and today at the Biswa Sahitya Kendra building in Dhaka.
Speakers said right now there is a need for strengthening cooperation within and across national, regional and international levels to undertake concerted advocacy for a progressive and inclusive SRHR agenda.
Young people need to engage in advocating and holding governments accountable for their adoption of progressive and inclusive policies for the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly SRH services, including safe abortion, they said.
At the opening programme of the conference, chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dipu Moni MP said Bangladesh government is working towards making Bangladesh a developed nation by 2041.
To fulfil this target, young people need to play key rolls in every sector, and everyone should work for country's development, she added.
Joe Thomas, executive director of Partners in Population and Development (PPD), Iori Kato, representative a.i. UNFPA Bangladesh and SM Shaikat, Executive Director, SERAC Bangladesh and country coordinator IYAFP, were present at the opening programme.
Speakers discussed the issues of family planning and SRHR, reflecting on policy dimensions of family planning and population dynamics, and what are the challenges and solutions to overcome those to access the population dividend in Bangladesh's development paradigm.
Of the 1.8 billion adolescents in the world, Bangladesh is home to 29.5 million. Some 88% of the adolescents reside in developing countries.
Bangladesh government, NGOs and rights based organisations are working to ensure youth rights and youth engagement in development, Dipu Moni said.
In another programme, speakers discussed including comprehensive sexual education in the national curriculum, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) rights in the country and youth-friendly services.
More than 200 delegates from around the country are taking part in the two-day conference.