Ensuring equitable access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for young key populations requires concerted action by multiple partners and stakeholders across various sectors. One of the main objectives of the UNDP-implemented WeBelongAfrica project is to support a multisectoral approach that advances sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young key populations in decision making, policy development and legal review processes.
In June 2023, WeBelongAfrica, in cooperation with the Africa Key Population Experts Group, hosted a high-level meeting for government officials, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations from the five project countries (Angola, eSwatini Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) to discuss the role of core government sectors in promoting the SRHR of young key populations in their policy formulation, implementation and review processes.
The meeting was attended by more than 45 participants drawn from government ministries in the gender, health, justice, and youth sectors. These included senior officials at director level and senior technical officers responsible for leading and coordinating youth related programmes in the ministries. The government participants were joined by members of the young key population community.
The meeting aimed to identify, discuss, and prioritize interventions at regional and national levels, for scaling up actions to advance the SRHR of young key populations; develop national-level roadmaps that set out priority sector-specific and multisectoral activities; and identify technical support needs to carry out the proposed activities, for protecting and promoting the inclusion and SHRH of young key populations at country-level.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the government sectors to reflect on their respective activities and learn from the experiences of other sectors on implications of policy decisions on the SRHR of young key populations. Participants also explored synergies and intersectionality of the various policies and programmes in the core sectors and were introduced to a guidance document developed by UNDP, titled “Strengthening Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young Key Populations in Law & Policy: A Handbook for Decision-Makers.”
The multisectoral meeting highlighted that achieving effective and equitable access to SRHR of young key populations requires strategic political decision-making, not only in the health sector but also in the gender, youth, and justice sectors. These sectors bear the responsibility of designing and implementing policies that have direct impact on the SRHR of young key populations. In pursuit of this objective, participants from each sector developed road maps that outline the priority areas for their individual and collective action. These road maps will integrate into the country activities of the WeBelongAfrica programme, amplifying its impact.