A total of 32 young people from Botswana, Comoros, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the Think-Tank Meeting at the Riverside Resort in the Vaal, South Africa representing various youth organizations. The group comprised of young people from SADC countries who were delegates on UN HLM on AIDS, selected regional delegates to Mali, GYCA RFPs for Eastern and Southern Africa, their NFPs, some SAT youth partners, amongst other active youth organizations. This wholly participatory meeting was facilitated by Sydney Hushie (GYCA) and Jonathan Gunthorp (SAT).
The participants engaged in various group discussions, presentations and exercises, which brought about the realization that Africans suffer similar problems on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues. They managed to come up with their own capacity building, advocacy and programming strategies on nine (9) key priority areas necessary for effective SRHR in their respective countries.
Some key mobilization points to be used to share the key outcomes and also initiate advocacy included:
1. ICASA 2011 – SAT and GYCA would conduct SRHR training for the 250 young participants identified for the preconference. This training would be coordinated in partnership with ATHENA. There would be an opportunity at the Youth Pavilion in the African Village for young participants to exhibit their country actions to the conference participants and also partner to organize a session on “RSHR is a Western Concept”. This is to increase publicity and discussions of the issue on a regional platform to draw attention to national level strategies.
2. AIDS 2012 Vienna – By Vienna, at least the three (3) identified pilot countries would have developed and implemented some activities in the action plans. The young people from these countries would showcase these activities through sponsored abstract presentation.
3. SADC ministers of Health and ministers of finance meetings – This would provide fertile grounds for advocacy and engagement with African governments on the urgency to make SRHR a primary issue at the country level.
Country teams would share specific country mobilization platforms in their countries. As a matter of urgency, SAT would work with GYCA to identify at least 3 SAT countries to initiate in country meetings to develop the country action plans for implementation.
The strategy guides identified at the consultation provides fertile grounds for the country plans to be put together taken forward.
The participants also gathered in their country teams and highlighted agencies and organizations that they considered their allies which they would work with in developing their country action plans on SRHR.
With the positive evaluation of the meeting received at the end of the two days, it is safe to say that the participants were fired up and ready to tackle SRHR issues head-on in their countries and start working on their action plans.