How are Youth Creating a World of Equality and Human Rights?

Kori Dawson, YAM Member at Belize Family Life Association

Attending the the first session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Montevideo was quite an experience. It was the first time I'd traveled to Uruguay, and my day at the youth meeting began as soon as I arrived.

Seventy young people from Latin American and the Caribbean attended the Youth Forum on August 10, two days before the conference began. I jumped right into a working group to draft the Youth Declaration, “Creating a World of Equality and Human Rights,” which required us to review seven key areas: comprehensive sexuality education, dignified work, youth-friendly health services, participation, violence, environmental sustainability, and migration. The Declaration was then delivered to delegates during the conference.

When youth from Latin America and the Caribbean come together, we face the challenge of a language barrier since both Spanish and English are spoken throughout the region. This conference was held in Uruguay, which means there were more youth attending from Spanish-speaking countries. Although there were translators for the large group presentations, we had to come up with our own solution when we broke into small groups to work on the Declaration. Turns out, it wasn't as difficult as you might imagine.

We solved the problem by ensuring there was always someone bilingual in each group to be the linguistic liaison. These youth were critical to our discussions. In addition to translating, they made sure everyone's points were heard and represented in the final version of the Youth Declaration.

After the small group discussions, we presented our group's views to the entire room and finalized the Youth Declaration. The document we created clearly states that young people are essential actors in transforming the region. Because we play a major role in this world— we are, after all, the largest generation of young people the world has ever known—we should also play a role in determining the post-2015 development agenda. For us to see a change in the future, we have to make a stand now and work as hard as we can.

The youth meeting concluded with a group photo and time to have conversations with our fellow advocates while listening to Latin music. I was able to build my network of young people from across the region, and gain a better understanding of the importance of regional partnerships. I have more knowledge about how the Economic Comission for Latin America and the Caribbean works, and how its work is connected with organizations such as IPPF/WHR, la Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Juventudes, and UNFPA.

It's very important that our governments take action to implement the Montevideo Consensus. The agreement is essential to not only every young person in the Caribbean and Latin America, but also in the world!

Kori Dawson is a senior member of the Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) at Belize Family Life Association. and the youth representative on their Board of Directors.

Montevideo Consensus Affirms Sexual Rights


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