According to the United Nations definitions of different groups of young people, 'adolescents' are those between 10 and 19 years old and 'youth' includes everybody between 15 and 24 years old. More than 1.5 billion people in the world are between the ages of 10 and 25. This largest-ever generation of adolescents is approaching adulthood in a world their elders could not have imagined. UNFPA promotes and protects the rights of young people. It envisions a world in which girls and boys have optimal opportunities to develop their full potential, to freely express themselves and have their views respected, and to live free of poverty, discrimination and violence. To achieve this, UNFPA works across sectors and with many partners.
More than 1.5 billion people in the world are between the ages of 10 and 25. This largest-ever generation of adolescents is approaching adulthood in a world their elders could not have imagined. UNFPA promotes and protects the rights of young people. It envisions a world in which girls and boys have optimal opportunities to develop their full potential, to freely express themselves and have their views respected, and to live free of poverty, discrimination and violence. To achieve this, UNFPA works across sectors and with many partners to:
- Empower adolescents and youth with skills to achieve their dreams, think critically, and express themselves freely;
- Promote health, by giving them access to sexual and reproductive health information, education, commodities and services
- Connect young people to livelihood and employment programmes
- Uphold the rights of young people, especially girls and marginalized groups
- Encourage young people’s leadership and participation in decisions that affect them.
Egypt’s population policy explicitly addresses young adults only through provision for healthcare for girls prior to marriage and premarital exams and counselling. Most Reproductive Health services are only available to married females, although reproductive health services cover issues related to the whole life cycle.
Reproductive Health for youth applies to a huge variety of comprehensive services and access to information. Matters such as harmful practices, should be addressed from local institutions to government, from family and peers to schools, and from the youth to the elders.
For instance, despite the legal ban on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), it is still practiced widely; 92% percent of females in Egypt have had FGM/C (DHS 2014).
However, Reproductive and Sexual Health education is not received at schools and the only source of information for young people is usually their peers and families.
The School Health Insurance system does not systematically include reproductive health care for students, and no comparable programme exists for out-of-school youth. RH services don’t only cover family planning or other issues related to young married couples; it also covers issues such as those related to menstruation, malnutrition and answering any questions asked by young unmarried people.
The youth programme in partnership with government and NGOS enables UNFPA to understand the context in which youth and adolescents have to grow up, in order to better advocate for youth-friendly policies.
UNFPA Egypt and its partners support young people in maintaining good Reproductive Health. Most programmes implemented take young people as a cross-cutting issue, while others target young people specifically.
In November, 2014, a youth consultation took place, under the patronage of H.E. the Minister of Health and Population and H.E. the chairperson of the National Population Council, to discuss the post-2015 development agenda in Egypt and rolling out the Population Strategy endorsed in October 2014 by H.E. the Prime Minister, with the support from UNFPA. The consultation discussed the youth component of the strategy, and came out with recommendations, which were presented to the chairperson of the National Population Council, and the representatives of different line ministries. The young people made recommendations in Education, Environment, Gender, Civic Engagement, Health and Unemployment and poverty.
UNFPA is the lead organization in the Joint Programme between different UN organizations, hence taking the coordination role between different UN Organizations on this intervention regarding youth. In November, 2014, a youth consultation took place, under the patronage of H.E. the Minister of Health and Population and H.E. the chairperson of the National Population Council, to discuss the post-2015 development agenda in Egypt and rolling out the Population Strategy endorsed in October 2014 by H.E. the Prime Minister, with the support from UNFPA. The consultation discussed the youth component of the strategy, and came out with recommendations, which were presented to the chairperson of the National Population Council, and the representatives of different line ministries. The young people made recommendations in Education, Environment, Gender, Civic Engagement, Health and Unemployment and poverty. This effort will continue in 2016, through the continuity of the work of this youth technical task force, in addition to the engagement of young people in the process of creating the population strategy plan of action.
Nowadays, Egyptian youth are around 60% of the population, this percentage has to be engaged, empowered, informed and committed to values and ethics of sustainable development to get out the best of them. However, young people in Egypt are facing a number of serious issues that has a direct impact on the Egyptian society like unemployment, migration (the lack of employment opportunities and the poor living conditions are one of the biggest reasons of the increase of migration aspirations among youth. One of the biggest issues young women and girls in Egypt are facing is sexual harassment (a report issued by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in April 2013 revealed that overwhelming majority of Egyptian women 99.3% have exprienced some sort of sexual harassment 96.5% had been sexually assaulted). Another major issue facing young women and girls is female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the DHS 2014 around 92% of Egyptian girls and women undergo FGM. The numbers are still high, especially in relevance to household income as well as in rural areas.
Girls also have conflicts regarding their eagerness to learn about sexuality, marriage, pregnancy and the appropriateness of having such knowledge long before marriage. They also believe that none of the adults they know would answer their questions regarding these issues.”
- Youth Friendly Health Services in Primary Healthcare Units: UNFPA in Egypt is supporting the Ministry of Health and Population to set and endorse national standards for youth friendly health services. These standards will set ground for the upscaling of the service throughout urban primary healthcare centers. In the process, UNFPA is initially supporting the establishment of 30 YFHS between June 2013 and 2017. The support includes the adoption of the Adolescent Job Aid to be the providers' tool, in addition to a marketing and branding strategy and implementing it.
- Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE): Eight UN Agencies, namely UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, WHO, UNDP, UNV, UNAIDS and UNESCO are partially supporting the production of the Survey of Young People in Egypt 2014 by the Population Council and the CAPMAS. This is a panel survey following the first survey in 2009 also supported by UN Agencies. UNFPA is the lead organization in the Joint Programme, hence taking the coordination role between different UN Organizations on this intervention.
- Ma3louma: Ma3looma is a project within One World Organization's Mobile4Good portfolio established in 2012 and funded by UNFPA. Ma3looma's website and social media platforms provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information to youth and young people in Arabic. Ma3looma focuses on youth and newly married, however it believes that for a person to be sexually healthyhe/she has to get access to the right information regarding general health and wellbeing in all his/her stages of life. Ma3looma aspires to make primarily Egyptians enjoy learning and discussing sexual and reproductive health information and help them share information among their peers. Ma3looma received about 8200 questions through SMSs, Facebook chat and Ask.fm application. Ma3looma celebrated reaching 1,008,612 fans this quarter on Facebook through posting over 1600 different Sexual and Reproductive Health posts and articles.
- Etijah: The program is built to contribute to strengthening the national capacities for community-based interventions in reproductive health to empower women and young people. The activities offered focus on raising the capacities of local youth in volunteer management, raising the awareness and support of youth volunteers in delivering reproductive health awareness campaigns for their communities, training of community leaders and supporting the leaders in their work with married couples to discuss and advocate for reproductive education and services
UNFPA Work with Marginalized Youth:
In 2006, Al Shehab Foundation for Comprehensive Development initiated the first program to address marginalized women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS under the technical and financial support from UNAIDS, UNIFEM and UNDP. The program built on the result of qualitative study that identified the risky behavior among vulnerable women such as awareness's level of HIV and other Sexual Transmitted Diseases, different forms of violence and deprivation to access prevention and treatment services. The program recruited and trained peers and outreach workers, develop map of vulnerable women's location, disseminated HIV/AIDS awareness messages and distributed condoms as well as provided medical and legal services for the targeted women. Subsequently, the program has been scaled-up and continues to deliver comprehensive services for vulnerable women in 2015 under the support of UNFPA, UNAIDS and HIV Trust Fund.
The program is working from holistic approach perspective through different outreach activities through providing information and education for vulnerable women, male clients and guardians related to HIV and STI transmission, prevention, care, treatment, providing Drop-In centers “Safe, non-discriminatory environment and space to allow women to access quality essential services” in addition to the psycho-social support, legal services, voluntarily counseling and testing. Not only this but, in order to expand women's choices and to enable them to have alternative opportunities, the program provides career development and life skills trainings. The number of women who received medical services reached 650 women, and over the course of implementation, more than 1400 women accessed legal services and 940 women benefited from the psycho-social support.
Y-PEER, a youth network supported by UNFPA that has evolved into the largest grassroots network globally addressing the most pressing needs of young people within the framework of national needs and cultural context. Y-PEER works in 21 different governorates of Egypt with 58 NGOs and youth initiatives as well as 15 universities.
The network implemented several activities covering topics of civic engagement, girls’ empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health. These activities included trainings of trainers, theater based peer education workshops, performance development trainings, and trainings of peer educators. There are 19,342 young people and youth who were reached through peer education sessions and campaigns, 21 theatre performances which targeted 2,984 youth and more than 51,934 were outreached through social media promoting for civic engagement. There were 32 universities and 58 primary and high school classes approached. More than 23,259 youth in 19 governorates raised their awareness about GBV (Gender Based Violence), 235 Peer educators were well trained on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and social norms and well equipped with needed skills to hold seminars and sessions for the local communities especially in villages and rural areas across nine governorates in 2016. 225 Medicine students were also well trained on advocacy of women’s’ health issues.
List of partners and supported organizations:
- Ministry of Health
- Al Shehab Foundation