The age of consent in terms of accessing sexual reproductive health (SRH) services such as contraceptives and HIV counselling and testing is not provided for in laws and policies in the majority of countries in Southern Africa.
This has created barriers for young people to access SHR services. To address this critical barrier preventing youth access to sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, the Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) has embarked on a regional advocacy campaign to draw attention to this issue in the region.
AfriYAN is a network of adolescent and youth leaders that seeks to create an enabling environment for adolescents and youth to participate in the fight against HIV and AIDS, poverty, unemployment and gender-related inequalities. It also promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights, and general youth development.
Support for the project is provided through Hivos Southern Africa’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Fund, with funding from the Ford Foundation.
To advance the campaign, AfriYAN has been linked up with Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN), the South African organization that successfully campaigned to change the age of consent such that children of the same or similar age are not criminalized if they have sex under the age of 16.
To do so, they have launched a campaign called #90 Days of Consent which will include hosting online campaigns through social media platforms and webinars over the course of 90 days.
They also plan to make an animation demystifying the age of consent to share via twitter, Facebook and through tweet chats. To gather stories aimed at influencing policy makers, they will be filming confessions from young people that they will showcase for decision makers.
A SexRightsAfrica Network mobile app. will be used to mobilise other young people to join the campaign and discussions. All of the outcomes from the campaign will be documented in the form of case studies and advocacy toolkits from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana to be shared on the SexRightsAfrica Network website.
Hivos has been working for many years on issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), with a strong focus on people’s rights to (bodily) self-determination, freedom of choice and pleasure. Strategies Hivos uses include joint policy advocacy to influence legislation and policies at national and international level, capacity development of (grassroots) organizations, networking, and development and dissemination of expert knowledge.