Linking Policy to Programming: Strengthening legal and policy environments for reducing HIV risk and improving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) for Young Key Populations in Southern Africa
Young people (10 to 24) constitute one-quarter of the world’s population, although 15 to 24 year-olds account for 35% of all new HIV infections, with young women being disproportionately affected.
Young people need support to transition to adulthood, and gender responsive, age-appropriate information and services to assist them in making informed decisions about sexual relationships and in avoiding negative health outcomes such as HIV infection or unintended pregnancy.
In Southern Africa, however, their ability to make informed sexual reproductive health (SRH) choices is hampered by unsupportive legal/policy environments, socio-cultural traditions, religious values, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and gender inequalities. For young people who belong to one or more key populations (YKPs) these barriers are compounded by laws which criminalise their sexual activities and identities.
Key Populations (KPs) are disproportionately affected by HIV and YKPs – both female and male – are especially vulnerable to sexual reproductive health risks through widespread discrimination, stigma and violence. Young prisoners can be exposed to sexual abuse, young female sex workers are at risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs), while young lesbian women are the targets of “corrective” rape.
In the face of these vulnerabilities, YKPs are reluctant to seek support or access to justice and HIV/STIs remain undetected and untreated. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) recognises the importance of addressing impacts of gender-based discrimination and inequalities on HIV risk and on the SRH of young women.
The long term Development Objective of the project is to improve Sexual Reproductive Health [SRH] outcomes for young key populations in SADC Countries.
The medium-term Programme Objective is to strengthen HIV/SRH related rights of young key populations in law, policy and strategy in 5 SADC Countries [Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.]
- Strengthening the capacity of national governments to put in place HIV/SRH-related legal, policy and strategy environments that respect the rights of young key populations
- Strengthening the capacity of regional and national civil society organisations including community-based groups to claim rights and advocate for strengthened national HIV/SRH-related legal, policy and strategy environments and improved HIV/SRH service provision for young key populations
- Strengthening the capacity and leadership of SADC to facilitate Member States to put in place legal, policy and strategy environments that respect the rights of young key populations and promote regional learning
- Strengthening the understanding of appropriate indicators and monitoring and evaluation processes that help promote accountability for implementation of human rights enabling activities that arise from law, policy and strategy assessments, advocacy and research activities
- Develop relevant tools and guidance on the HIV/SRH-related needs and rights of each young key population – Advocacy Curriculum; Scorecard for year 1.
- Implement capacity strengthening activities for young sex workers (SW), young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals (LGBT), young people in prison, and young people who use drugs, in HIV/SRH rights and on access to justice – Community Dialogues; Stakeholders’ Workshops; Advocacy Work Plans Development.
- Establish a mechanism for community inputs into policy development and implementation related to HIV/SRH service provision for young key populations.