At the start of April, an important step was taken to ensure adolescents and young people’s access to information and education when the Ministers of Education and Health of 25 countries in Central and West Africa came together in Brazzaville. Rutgers Senior Programme Officer, Pierrette Kengela, was at the ceremony for the West and Central Africa Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People (WCA Commitment) and reflects on this momentous occasion.
On 6 April, the Ministers of Education and Health of 25 countries in Central and West Africa came together in Brazzaville to endorse the West and Central Africa Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People (WCA Commitment). At the gathering policy and decision makers expressed their support for youth and adolescents.
“The WCA commitment is an important step forward due to its comprehensive and inclusive approach to the well-being and development of young people in the region”
What are the key commitments?
The WCA commitment made several recommendations to safeguard the well-being and development of adolescents and young people in the region. These recommendations include:
Increasing access to quality education
Ensuring access to quality health services
Creating an enabling environment for young people to thrive
Ensuring accountability by the establishment of mechanisms to monitor progress and hold stakeholders accountable for their commitments to young people.
Continued follow-up with youth involvement essential
As a global organisation focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, Rutgers has a strong interest in improving the well-being and development of adolescents and young people. Especially in the West and Central Africa region, which faces significant challenges in terms of access to quality education and health services. Through our participation in the Technical Working Group, Rutgers managed to provide technical support in shaping the regional agenda on issues related to adolescent and young people’s health and development for this commitment.
The active participation of adolescents and young people in the design, implementation, and monitoring of this commitment is crucial to prioritise their needs in development efforts. This is why Rutgers is committed to supporting meaningful youth participation, in the context of the EU-funded programme, Ado Avance Ensemble. In this programme, Rutgers collaborates with civil society organisations in West and Central Africa, to enable vulnerable adolescents in 5 countries to fully exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights in societies that support their needs.
Two of the young representatives of the Ado Avance Ensemble programme were also able to attend and raise their voice during the endorsement ceremony, the intergenerational dialogue and other side-meetings in Brazzaville.
What is the way forward?
The WCA commitments need to be relevant, responsive and accountable to the needs of young people. The only way to do this is to involve young people every step of the commitment review process in the different countries in the region. The Ado Avance Ensemble programme will continue to work with governments and other stakeholders to secure that the WCA commitment is translated into concrete action plans that benefit the young people in their region.
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