Teenage pregnancies and HIV/Aids remain huge problems around the world, particularly for the youth of Southern Africa. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is an international development agency that supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The UNFPA is supporting a regional programme for adolescents and young adults called Safeguard Young People (SYP). The programme recently launched an exciting compilation album, We Will, featuring some of Southern Africa’s leading artists, which uses music to speak directly to the youth about issues of sexual health and reproductive rights.
The goal of SYP is to contribute to improved sexual and reproductive health status of young people aged 10 to 24, with a special focus on adolescent girls in eight Southern African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The new compilation, We Will, was officially launched on 12 August in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, South Africa. It features artists from throughout the region: Bryan K (Zimbabwe), The Dogg (Namibia), KrTC (Swaziland), Zeus (Botswana), Stlofa (Lesotho), DJ Kaliwa (Zambia) and Gwamba (Malawi), as well as collaborative tracks such as ‘Give Me a Chance’, ‘Congiva (Condom)’, ‘Private Party’ and the title track. All 10 songs have positive messages in line with the SYP goals, and the album notes include full lyrics, as well as English translations.
The SYP programme aims to stimulate discussion, build capacity, develop guidelines and protocols, generate comparable evidence and increase networking, experience sharing and South-South cooperation between countries. It will also facilitate the role of Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a normative organization for its member states. The programme enables benchmarking and strengthens regional leadership on youth issues. It exerts pressure on key stakeholders to raise national standards to regional ideals and to ‘think regionally’. It also encourages the spread and adaptation of best practices in Africa and contribute to global evidence on adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights. It is estimated that over 1,5 million adolescents and young people in the region have already been exposed to the work of the SYP.
On 18 November 2014, UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office launched the SYP programme under the auspices of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC), the Global Programme on Reproductive Commodity Security (GPRHCS), the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Seven young artists from the countries involved performed the song ‘We Will’ at the launch, which received incredible appreciation from the young people and all partners. This exciting response led to the production of a full album. The SYP hopes to reach an even larger number of young people using music as a channel to increase knowledge of sexual reproductive health among the youth.
According to UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, “Never before have there been so many young people. Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress. How we meet the needs and aspirations of young people will define our common future.”