Twelve students from six University of Pretoria (UP) faculties were selected to represent the University at the third Southern African Regional Students and Youth Conference (SARSYC) on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Lusaka, Zambia, from 10 to 13 July. These students are active members of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender’s (CSA&G) Just Leaders Volunteer and Leadership Development Programme and devote their time outside of lectures to co-creating safe and inclusive university spaces.
Under the theme Plan Prioritise and Prevent, the conference called on governments and stakeholders to:
- effectively plan for the realisation of young people’s sexual reproductive health;
- ensure that there is a coordinated response in addressing students’ and young people’s sexual reproductive challenges; and
- prioritise key populations among the youth constituency.
In attendance were students at institutions of higher learning with a special focus on the female student, LGBTI youth, young people with disabilities and young people living with HIV. Their work includes urging all stakeholders to join the efforts towards preventing early and unintended pregnancies that usually escalate to unsafe abortions and deaths, while ensuring that girls remain in school until they complete their education.
The UP student delegation was accompanied by three CSA&G staff members and one staff member, Mr Duke Rasebopye, also facilitated a session at the conference on UP’s anti-sexual harassment training interventions and programme, under the #SpeakOutUP umbrella. The Just Leaders programme is supported by the Students’ and Academics’ International Help fund (SAIH) in Norway and its support funded the UP delegation’s attendance of SARSYC.