Youths off to Malawi for health expo

Standard Style
The conference is organised by Students and Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) and its co-hosting partner Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA Hundreds of Zimbabwean youths will join their counterparts at the fourth edition of the Southern African Regional Students and Youth Consortium (SARSYC) conference slated for August 24 in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The conference is organised by Students and Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) and its co-hosting partner Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

The SARSYC conference is a platform of young people by young people who convene at regional level once in two years to reflect largely on health and educational issues.

This conference is SAYWHAT’s brainchild whose bid is to bring together regional students and youths in one room for purposes of establishing a united regional voice that is able to hold to interrogate policies that are no longer serving the interests of young people’s health and educational matters.

The conference is being held under the theme: Reshaping, Re-planning and Re-Committing to the Youth Agenda in the Southern African Region!

SAYWHAT information officer Costa Nkomo told Standard Style that the event offers young people an opportunity to meet with policy makers and influencers for robust and honest engagements on issues to do with health and education.

“This is a unique platform that brings together students and youths from different countries in Southern Africa to have interpersonal engagement with governments, development partners, law makers among other strategic stakeholders for purposes of reflecting on experiences  the young people encounter in their respective countries particularly with regards to access to public health and educational services.

“This is where honest discussions are happening vis-a-vis health and educational policies to evaluate their relevance towards serving the youth agenda,” he said.

“Child marriage and teenage pregnancy cases have been on the rise. Do we have policies that speak about these issues? Can they, in their current form, be implemented to solve these scourges that the young people are facing? So, we need everyone on board to revisit these policies.”

Sexual reproductive health and rights defender and Web for Life coordinator, Anna Sande, who is one of the participants at the conference, said young people especially young women and girls should emerge from the conference empowered and with confidence that their aspirations are safeguarded through the commitments by governments and development partners.

“The SARSYC conference presents a space for the young people to interface with public duty bearers and development partners in Southern Africa to ensure that our educational and health needs are safeguarded through policies and legislation.

“This is the commitment that we want to get out of this gathering.  The conference is also guided by gender lenses in which we take the opportunity to remind public duty bearers and policy makers to revise existing laws so that they thoroughly end all forms of discrimination against young women and girls,” she said.

The conference is being supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe, the United Nations Population Fund Zimbabwe, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, StopTB Partnership, Education Out Loud under the Global Partnership for Education, Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund among other partners.

The first edition of the conference was held in 2015 in Harare.

More than 300 youths are expected to attend the conference.

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