The eighth session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place the first week of February 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York. The World Youth Alliance has been following the unfolding process for the creation of the SDGs, which will take over when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. WYA has followed the OWG sessions and will continue to follow the remaining meetings.
How do we collaborate?
As a coalition of young people, the World Youth Alliance is a member of the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). Sadly, what we think and stand for is not always represented there, even though we try to make our voice heard.
The first week of my Advocacy Fellowship I discovered this reality and experienced how public international policy really works. The process of public international policy exposes the flaw in a theory of democracy: the majority beats the minority even though the majority could be wrong.
In this case, we are talking about the majority’s decision in MGCY that “safe legal abortion” and reproductive health and rights for adolescents (starting at the age of 10) is what we (the youth) really want. MGCY is really a self-selecting group of individuals and organizations that promote, among other things, abortion rights, and does not represent the views of the majority of the world’s youth. At times, their number one priority appears to promote sexual and reproductive rights and access to abortion, considering how much they emphasize it.
MGCY provides statements on the representation of youth in diverse opportunities during the sessions of the Open Working Group on SDGs. Drafting the statements is theoretically open to NGOs that want to contribute. Yet this is an example of what they end up proposing we, youth, need: “remove legal and policy barriers to [sexual and reproductive health] services such as parental consent laws and punitive laws such as those that criminalize abortion.” For example, they propose that girls be able to have abortion without their parents even knowing.
The World Youth Alliance was actively engaged in the drafting process of this particular statement, and after all our efforts, we arrived at a disappointing outcome. Our input, viewpoints and contributions were ignored and willfully left out of the statement. We stand for life as many young people do and our vision for a better world does not extend only so far as the exercise of our sexuality.
What is next?
We are still in the fight to defend human life from conception to natural death and we will continue doing our best because in the end, if we defend life, every battle will be worth fighting.
Stay tuned for WYA’s actions during the upcoming UN Commissions, follow and support our efforts from wherever you are around the world.
By Ana Laura Hernandez Martinez, an Advocacy Fellow at WYA’s Headquarters in New York