The Southern Africa Regional Students and Youth Conference on reproductive health is not merely a body that hears the challenges that young people face or gives them a platform to discuss their issues. Although these two elements of SARSYC are very important, they do not represent the whole picture of the conference. SARSYC seeks to be a credible and effective regional body for young people and this can only be achieved if SARSYC ensures that action is taken so that young people in the region enjoy their full sexual and reproductive health rights.
One of the ways SARSYC has been doing this is by bringing the issues that young people in the region face to even bigger platforms such as the AU IPPF board. These platforms give a wider audience to the challenges often faced by young people thereby ensuring that effective action will be taken to address them. The International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) is one such platform. As one of Africa’s biggest SRH conference, it is a platform attended by key member of organisations and high level delegates from across the continent and the world. Even more importantly it provides a platform through which the issues that are often left ignored are brought into the spotlight. SARSYC will give young people in Southern Africa representation at the continental platform as it will take the recommendations drawn from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa to Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. This is why it is of great importance that young people in the region form a unified around their sexual and reproductive at SARSYC so that they can gain a bigger audience at ICASA. Widening the reach of young people’s voices is the first and critical step towards ensuring their SRH challenges are addressed.
In addition to this being present at ICASA will promote accountability by giving young people in the region the confidence to demand the fulfillment of their sexual and reproductive rights from various local and global stakeholders and the right to be part of the implementation of programmes in this regard. SARSYC’s presence at ICASA will also bridge the gap between young people in the communities and global decision makers and non-governmental organisations. Not only will they be able to have their issues presented at the platform but their views and opinions will also be represented in continental and global resolutions thus ensuring inclusivity of grassroots movements going up. SARSYC’s links to ICASA and other such platforms thereby gives weight to the conference as the voice of the young people in the Southern African region with regards to their SRH.
SARSYC is not an end in itself; it is one of the means of safeguarding the future of young people in the region. The road to good SRH does not begin and end at SARSYC, it leads to ICASA and other platforms where young people can continue to amplify their voices and demand to be heard.