Regional Youth Forum
IPPF ESEAOR engages young people in decision making and governance through the Youth Forum which meets annually. According to the constitutional provisions of the region, youth make up 20 per cent of the Regional Council (RC) and the Regional Executive Committee (REC). These representatives are elected every three years by the Youth Forum from among its numbers. The Regional Youth Representative also represents the regional youth at the Governing Council (GC) level.
The Regional Youth Forum comprises of youth representatives from 26 member associations (MAs) across IPPF ESEAOR. In addition to development of leadership skills and networking, the Forum provides an opportunity for the young people to exchange experiences and to discuss issues on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of interest and concern to youth in the region.
2019's newly elected Regional Youth Representative is from New Zealand - WaiMarama Matena who is 21 years old, is a 4th year medical student. She enjoys being able to add on to decisions that are directly affecting women, especially the underserved and marginalized.
“I was inspired to venture into the field of SRHR at a young age. I think somehow SRHR was always something that I was taught to think of as important because there’s a lot of emphasis on women’s bodies being spiritual in Maori culture (or “tapu,” meaning sacred). To me this meant that reproduction and health was also something to be considered as highly important. I grew up with this mentality and that increased as I became more educated on the issues at hand over time.
And now being a medical student, the issues about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) really caught my interest and led me to this career path. I strongly believe that sexual rights are part of our health rights and that we should be able to make decision about our own bodies.
New Zealand Family Planning (NZFP) has made things easier for me to do what I love. They have always provided a fostering environment for us youths (me) – they’re extremely youth friendly. Our opinions are valued here and that gives me the backbone that I need to get involved in this field, knowing that I have my own voice and people supporting it has also added on to my confidence of doing what I love and believe in.”
“I really hope that in time to come, SRHR would become a “normalized topic” of conversation. I feel it’s important that the taboos surrounding SRHR are removed and it’s okay for one to discuss and learn about their own bodies.”