By: Nthati Moerane


The international conference on population and development (ICPD) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held a meeting with the youths and dignitaries from different ministries, to discuss and recognize the rights of all human beings. This came about so as to monitor the progress or initiatives and commitments made back in 1994 by 179 countries in a meeting held in Egypt, Cairo to see if those commitments are being fulfilled.

The meeting was on March, 18th 2024 at the Lehakoe Recreational Centre.

The gathering basically focused on youths in order for them to express their opinions on different experiences about sexual and reproductive health issues such as ‘early and unintended pregnancy, child marriage, gender based violence, new HIV transmission, unsafe abortion and maternal deaths. Also to reflect as young people of the future they want, to realizes their sphere of influence from an African point of view which can subsequently influence a global point of view.

UNFPA as an organization responsible and mandated to promote sexual and reproductive health, as an organization that prioritises young people felt the need to create the space to come together to discuss and reflect on issues that affect young people.

More on the main objectives of the gathering was to celebrate youth leadership in ICPD for 30 years, giving voice to the indicated processes of the UN on youth and youth led organizations working on the grass roots level including those representing marginalized groups, and to basically discuss issues around population and development, and reflect on surfacing points of concern.

According to Innocent Modisaotsile, representative of the UNFPA, there is going to be three important meetings held in different countries. The first meeting will take place in Benin sometime in April, where there is going to be a gathering of young people from all over the world  which is called youth dialogue, to reflect on issues to do with sexual and reproductive health, issues to do with human rights, issues around education and humanitarian issues. But for that to happen, they need to assemble youths from Lesotho in order to get their opinions and proposals of the world that they want to see.

“ICPD as a caucus that was held at Cairo in Egypt in 1994 by 20 000 people worldwide including youths, media, and governments of 179 countries agreed to a 20 year program of action which will help set commitments that will happen after 20 years respectively. This meeting is the one where United Nations explained what sexual and reproductive health is, also to look at the development of the country which will only happen when the is equality and empowerment of women and men, and sexual reproductive health senses,” says Violet Maraisane, from the UNFPA communication department .

The event allowed Basotho youths to propose the kind of Lesotho that they want and also to promise on delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. But mostly to work towards eradicating maternal deaths, unmet needs for family planning; gender based violence and HIV transmissions. Most youths expressed that it will be difficult to reach the stage of eradication as they still face challenges of being misinformed. They further explained that facilities are hard to reach and the communication skills used in those facilities are not ‘good’, which leads them to fear seeking help from such facilities.

As of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the youths praised ICPD saying that it continues to respond to the SDGs such as education through the likes of comprehensive sexuality education, giving education and imparting  skills that benefit students.

“As a youth who went to school where there was no curriculum that teaches about comprehensive sexuality education and seeing this young adolescents and young people go to schools with curriculum that incorporate comprehensive sexuality education, it is a huge thing for me ,” claims Mathe Patience Masopha, one of the panellist of ICPD.