The Heart of the Matter

Rewriting the story

Meet Aastha Subedi, acting president of YUWA: A youth-led, youth-run organisation in Nepal.

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Tags: CSE, Heart of the Matter, Meaningful and inclusive youth participation, SRHR, The Heart of the Matter

Embrace the reality of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, today! That’s the powerful message behind The Heart of the Matter, our ICPD+30 shadow report. This comprehensive document tells us the stories of youth activists from around the globe.

In the lead-up to the CPD57, where the ICPD Programme of Action will be reviewed, Rutgers talked to five young changemakers about their advocacy and what SRHR issues are at the heart of the matter for them.

Aastha Subedi, 23, is a recent Public Health graduate from Nepal. She is currently involved as the Acting President/Vice President at YUWA, a prominent youth-led, youth-run organization in Nepal that works on various youth issues. With nearly five years of hands-on experience in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, she is passionate about working with young people in all their diversities. Her primary focus is on building and sustaining youth movement in Nepal to implement evidence-based public health initiatives and drive advocacy efforts for various youth issues.

She integrates grassroots movements and community mobilization in all her efforts to bring about meaningful change. Aastha is also a recent graduate of Public Health from the Central Department of Public Health, Institute of Medicine, Nepal, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy in Tribhuwan University, Nepal.


“One must remember that we are together in this. We sisters across the world, we young people across the region, across the world, we are 1.8 billion now.”

Intro of Aastha walking through a door and hallway, and sitting down in a chair. Text reads ‘Aastha Subedi – president YUWA, a youth-led, youth-run organisation in Nepal – Nepal.

“Hi everyone. This is Aastha, Aastha Subedi, I’m from Nepal.”

What made you get into advocating for better access to SRHR?

“I was engaged as the member of the Youth Activist Leadership Council. When I was there, I got an opportunity to learn about various components of SRHR and a lot about CSE. I felt like how different women, wearing different dresses, with different surnames, with different backgrounds, with different stories – when it comes to the stories of harassment, abuse and the discrimination and fighting those discriminations, we’re very, very similar, and I want that tale to be very different. Fifty years on when my daughter will – If I ever get married and have a daughter –, when the children will talk about their issues, I hope that it won’t be the same.”

What SRHR issues are most important to you and why?

“Even though our stories are very similar, the opportunities to access the information services that we get is very, very disproportionate. There is a perpetual discrimination in access and opportunities and actions, and I feel like ‘Okay, this should end somewhere’. So, I think this, – the disproportionate allocation of the resources, the disproportionate allocation of the opportunities and that eventually leading to the disproportionate outcome –, I think that is the most pressing issue.”

What message would you like to bring back to governments and policymakers?

“I would like for them to go talk to us, come to us, you know, like, and believe in us. Think that we can do it. We may not have like twenty, thirty years of experience, but we know exactly what we want.”

When it comes to #EmbraceOurRights, what SRHR right has been ignored too long for you?

“I think it is the right to accessible, affordable, and then quality information and services. And another is to be myself. I’ve not been able to fully, you know like, go out, be myself, explore my sexuality, and I can be one hundred percent sure that many young people in my country context and around the world have not been able to do that.”

What do you want to say to other young people on the importance of speaking out for SHRH?

“Sometimes it might get a little bit intimidating. You might be a little afraid, but if you don’t speak now and if you don’t speak for yourself, nobody else will. And the time will pass by and we won’t achieve the change that we actually want to achieve.”

“One must remember that we are together in this. We sisters across the world, we young people across the region, across the world. We are 1.8 billion now. We can do it and we are together in this.”

About the CPD57

At the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), Rutgers and colleagues worldwide will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action. With various emerging issues globally, such as climate change and health crises, its more timely then ever to turbocharge our efforts to ensure the ICPD agenda is implemented. For young people today and future generations, we need the commitments of United Nations member states to the ICPD agenda, thereby contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

The Heart of the Matter

Our report, The Heart of the Matter: Embrace the reality of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights today, gives a comprehensive insight into the reality of young people’s SRHR and how well governments are implementing their commitments made in 2019. It covers 16 countries and 4 regions and echoes the voices of young people. This report will provide perspective and a direction for change for advocates and decision-makers.

Download your copy



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