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UNFPA organised a four-day national orientation workshop following a competitive recruitment of the new cohort of the 2021- 2024 Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) programme. The induction session took place in Johannesburg from 04 – 07 October 2021, with the aim of inducting youth leaders to UNFPA mandate areas and their role as advocates on adolescents and youth health. Recruited from UNFPA priority districts, with an inclusion of national advocates, 23 vibrant young people are representatives from various youth-serving institutions, civil society organisations and citizen interest groups.

UNFPA Officer In Charge, Dr. Agathe Lawson, officially welcomed the new group of enthusiastic young people congratulating them as new YAP members. Dr Lawson gave them motivation to take up the leadership platform to assert youth issues and ensure that the youth voice takes front and centre stage in the country’s youth development agenda.

Facilitated by UNFPA Adolescent and Youth Specialist, Ms Precious Magogodi, the induction session imparted knowledge and provided an overview of UNFPA work in South Africa, including advocacy and policymaking on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Youth Participation in policy and on forming collaborations with other youth networks.

Representative from the National Department of Health, Ms Getrude Matshimane engaged with the youth participants on government youth health programmes and interventions. UNFPA’s Gender Dynamics Specialist, Ms. Sarah Reis, took the youth leaders through key programme Gender Equality issues and engaged in robust discussions around gender norms and practises that predispose adolescent girls and young women to being vulnerable to GBV. The workshop was lively and engaging with YAP members speaking excitedly on the knowledge they gained and their future advocacy plans.

 “I have always advocated on the importance of having young people being part of the decision-making panels, I gained a lot of knowledge from this workshop, and I know we are on the right track. Young people’s voices will be properly represented by the YAPs,” youth advocate from the Eastern Cape.

 “This was a lovely experience as I got to interact with my fellow youth and speak about pertinent issues,” said a YAP representative in Gauteng spoke excitedly about her experience.