Students debate critical issues at Youth Forum

by Sharon Lall
Guyana Chronicle
July 14, 1999

Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) is forging ahead with its youth advocacy programme and wants to provide more opportunities for youngsters to address issues that impact on their lives and welfare.

The local organisation, in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), yesterday hosted a Youth Forum. The event was one of the activities to mark World Population Day, yesterday, and it was held at the Ocean View Convention Centre, East Coast Demerara.

The discussion focused on the issue of allowing teenage mothers to re-enter the formal school system. This has already been addressed at the Caribbean Youth Summit and is part of the Regional Action Plan (RAP).

Executive Director of the GRPA, Mr Frederick Cox, told participants that a "struggle" is on to ensure that parents and adults, in general, respect the rights of adolescents especially in issues affecting their welfare.

"Gone are the days when adults dictate to young people what they must do," the GRPA Head observed, stressing that he was happy to be "part of a revolution that has gripped the entire world".

Cox added that the GRPA, in partnership with the Inter-American Parliamentary Group, earlier this year hosted a successful Youth Parliament session.

He reiterated that his organisation will "leave no stone unturned" in working to provide opportunities for youngsters to be included in activities involving both governmental and non-governmental agencies.

He confessed, though, that all of this would require funding in order for "quite a lot" to be done.

Dr Wendy Rudder, Project Coordinator of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities/Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (UNFPA/ARSH), noted that the UNFPA continues to stress the need to raise the quality of life and well-being of human beings and to promote development by recognising the inter-relationship between population and developmental policies.

These goals could be achieved through the eradication of poverty and the promotion of economic growth in the context of sustainable development and education.

Dr Rudder said that the United Nations General Assembly recently hosted its 21st Special Session, and she gave an overall review of the implementation of the programme of action, which came out of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The ICPD had emphasised education, especially for girls, as well as gender equity and equality as part of the main objectives of the programme of action, the visitor noted.

Dr Rudder added that it further stated that everyone has the right to education which can be directed for the full development of human resource, human dignity and potential, in particularly for women and girls.

"Our youths are our future, particularly the young women whose child-bearing capacity is an asset towards increasing our population," she said, adding that "education begins in the womb".

The UNFPA official lauded the GRPA for its involvement in providing sexual and reproductive health and other services for Guyanese over the last 25 years.

The GRPA has created, and currently manages a vibrant youth advocacy movement, which sent a representative to the United Nations Special Session, which was held on June 30 and July 1, this year.

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