Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

The UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) is a platform for young people to engage with UNFPA and inform its programming, especially on matters relating to adolescents and youth. It is a demonstration of UNFPA’s commitment to young people’s empowerment.

UNFPA YAP consists of young people aged 18-24 years from diverse backgrounds who are passionate about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and are keen to contribute to the health and well-being of adolescents and youth in  Kenya through advocacy and other targeted initiatives on a volunteer basis. The panel attests to UNFPA’s vision and conceptual shift of moving away from working for young people to working in partnership with young people to ensure youth-friendly approaches and actions.

The YAP was established in Kenya in 2014 with a membership of 10 representing three 8th CP UNFPA counties of Nairobi, Kilifi, and Homabay and special interest groups such as YPWD and YPLHIV. 

One of the Youth Advisory Panel’s key objectives is to amplify young people’s voices and ensure that their concerns in SRHR  are heard and addressed. Through various advocacy efforts, the panel works to raise awareness about critical issues such as access to comprehensive sexuality education,  attainment of reproductive health rights, and the elimination of harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.

The UNFPA Kenya country office recently had an exciting transition welcoming a new cohort to its Youth Advisory Panel, marking a significant shift in the representation and engagement of young people in the country.

Representation and Focus Counties

This year, the YAP panel is composed of members drawn from the 10th Country Program focus counties (Turkana, Baringo, Bungoma, Nairobi, Isiolo, Garrisa, Kwale, Narok) and FGM focus counties (Narok, West Pokot, Bungoma, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu and Garrisa).

Further, the incoming panel has expanded representation from interest groups to include those living in humanitarian/refugee settings in comparison to the previous panel that only had representation from people living with disabilities and those living with HIV.

Composition and Leadership

The current 2024 Youth Advisory Panel consists of 7 males and 8 females which also includes Young people within special interest groups Young people Living with HIV(YPLHIV); Young people with Disabilities (YPWD) and a refugee living in Kenya. This is in the spirit of inclusivity and leaving no one behind.

The outgoing members of the YAP (2022-2023)  have notably taken part in several notable campaigns and events to amplify Youth voices and one of them is the bodyright campaign in Kenyan universities calling for an end to technology-facilitated gender-based violence. The 2024 cohort team is expected to take on the mantle and continue amplifying youth voices in SRHR matters across the country.

Additionally, the outgoing panel also held the inaugural Youth Persons Living with Disabilities convention that was held during the International Day for Persons with Disability on 3rd December 2023 where 200 Young people living with Disabilities were reached with details on how they can be able to access SRHR information and services. 

Reflections

“Being part of the Youth Advisory Panel gave me an opportunity to be part of the high-level panels at UNFPA Global Technical Meetings along with senior representatives from the World Economic Forum, UNCTAD, and KPMG among others. I discussed youth perspectives on global megatrends and threats and on how UNFPA can support young people globally.” – Leshan Kereto (YAP Chair – 2022-2023) and African Union Youth Mainstreaming and Inclusion Lead.

“My experience as a Youth Leader on the Youth Advisory Panel has been a transformative path that has enriched both my personal development and professional growth. Working with UNFPA has expanded my knowledge in SRH and has enabled me to recognize my capacity to positively influence the lives of adolescents and young people.” – Nora Nyadzua (YAP Member – 2022-2023)

“My journey serving as the youth representative for Isiolo County has made me an ambassador for my community and has fueled my commitment as a male champion to promote gender equality toward achieving a just society. It has additionally enriched me with professional networks which have fostered many learning and collaborative opportunities.” – Yaqoub Hassan (YAP Member 2022-2023)

The 2019 to 2021 cohort led by Ms. Faith Opiyo was equally instrumental. It was led by Ms. Faith Opiyo, a Chevening Scholarship Award winner and formerly the National FGM Coordinator at AMREF Health Africa. In her own words, the greatest achievement by the team was the establishment of robust strategies to engage young people online and at the county level on sexual and reproductive health matters.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNFPA Kenya.

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