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Statement delivered by H.E. Ms. Karen Ellemann, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Nordic Cooperation, at High-Level Closing Ceremony of the Second Annual Youth Forum at the sixty-first Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), 12 March 2017 in New York.

15.03.2017  21:17

©Danish Mission to the UN

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Excellencies – and excellent young people -  it is a great honour  to be a keynote listener and to hear your outcome of the last two days of CSW youth forum  With the current largest generation of young people in the world – estimated to 1.8 billion young people – the CSW Youth Forum and the Youth Declaration is more timely than ever.

The role of young people figures prominently in the new Danish strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian assistance with youth as a cross-cutting theme.

Our aim is to include young people in a meaningful way – not just as beneficiaries but as partners and leaders. Rather than create development for young people, Denmark wishes to promote youth engagement, in order to create sustainable development by and with young people towards 2030.

I strongly welcome the Youth Declaration. It is an excellent example of your great potential as well as your contribution to achieving gender equality and sustainable development.

The declaration touches upon many interesting and important aspects. Denmark especially supports the focus on creating shared power and ensuring a space where full and meaningful participation of young people can take place.

I will focus my comments on the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as young women’s economic empowerment.

Advancing young people’s access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights is key to break the barriers to youth empowerment, including young women’s economic empowerment, and key to our future development, prosperity and well-being of society.

For millions of young people around the world, the onset of adolescence brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses.

About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some 1 million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year – most in low and middle-income countries.

If we want to enable your ability as youth to be successful agents of change we need to make sure that the youth have the best possible conditions to make responsible, well-informed, and healthy choices.

Access to clear, accurate and evidence-based information and education about SRHR enables young people to make informed choices about their own sexual and reproductive lives and relations. It supports your capacity to protect your health, rights and dignity and stand up against discrimination and violence. 

Young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education is a vital prerequisite for empowerment and key to sustainable development.

We know that young women who avoid unintended pregnancy are more likely to stay in school, have healthier, better-educated children than their peers who begin childbearing in adolescence and therefore are more likely to participate in the work force – the theme of this year’s CSW.

Young women’s economic empowerment and economic independence is essential for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development goals.

We must continue to keep gender equality and young women’s empowerment at the heart of our efforts and it needs to be strongly reflected in the outcome document of the CSW.

Let me conclude by emphasizing that we need to harness the youth power and keep reminding each other that you, young people, are not the leaders of tomorrow, you are the leaders of today!

Thank you.

©Danish Mission to the UN