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05 November 2009

15andCounting campaign

Global youth speak out on lack of access to Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Health information

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  • 15andCounting campaign is a plea to governments globally to honour their pledge made at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994
  • Governments must improve access to affordable contraception and information

A recent survey conducted by MXit - the international mobile social network and instant messaging platform - across 17 countries, with over 222,000 respondents, indicated that 90% of youth surveyed believed their governments should do more to improve access to planned parenthood and reproductive information.

The international survey - conducted in conjunction with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) formed part of the 15andCounting campaign, which is aimed at petitioning the United Nations to ensure that the youth around the world have adequate access to information on sexual health and wellbeing. Young people between the ages of 15-24 years old account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide. Every day, some 500,000 young people - mostly women - are infected with STI’s, and access to contraceptives remains a challenge to women in most parts of the world. As a call to action, the 15andCounting campaign ran a worldwide petition to demand improved access to health services.

2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) where governments agreed on a 20-year Programme of Action to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young adults the world over – forming a critical part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Shocked by the lack of progress made, the IPPF launched the 15andCounting campaign on various social networking platforms, including MXit, Facebook and Twitter – urging young people around the world to call their governments to task by demanding action.

There are only five years remaining for governments to meet these commitments and, in particular, the needs of the 1.5 billion young people who are in desperate need of access to reproductive information and contraception. “The advent of mobile and PC based social networks makes it possible for the collective voice of global young adults to be heard – and they are demanding attention,” says Juan du Toit, International marketing manager for MXit.

“As a mobile social network and instant messenger that reaches upward of 16.5 million global users - we take our role as an international partner in the 15andCounting campaign very seriously,” says du Toit. “Most of our users are in the 17 -25 demographic, and we feel that it is important to ensure that the voices of young people, do not remain unheard,” continues du Toit.

Dr. Gill Greer, Director General of IPPF warns, “15 years ago, at the landmark International Conference on Population Development in Cairo, 179 governments committed to provide better access to sexual health services and family planning. Meeting these needs for young people is a major challenge, but one that governments must face up to; the consequences of failure for the health and well-being of millions will be devastating. Everyone has a right to be able to plan their families by choice, not chance, and free from coercion; when women are aware of the benefits of family planning and have access to contraception, they invariably choose more for their children rather than more children.

“A renewed focus on voluntary family planning and contraception around the world would do much to meet the needs and desires of millions of individuals to plan their families and improve their health and well-being. This is one of the great social justice issues of our time,” says Greer.

 
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