Even where progressive policies are in place, the gap between legislation and daily realities can be stark. “For too long, young people’s SRHR has remained a negotiable subject for governments and policymakers and a taboo subject to many,” says Aastha Subedi, acting president of Nepali youth-led organisation YUWA.
The last ICPD review in 2019 was a success, with many governments making practical commitments for their countries. However, this enthusiasm faltered as the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and high energy prices hit countries. At the same time growing backlash from anti-right movements threatens to take away hard-fought rights .
“Governments need to become passionate again,” says Marieke van der Plas, Executive Director at Rutgers. “They must find the political will to halt this deterioration and take actions for change. As many as possible should stand behind this agenda and acknowledge how urgent it is. We must ensure high-level commitments are followed up on and filter down to the national and local policy level.”