Human rights from a teen-ager perspective

One of the activities of the Gender ABC educational programme is called “Flying to a new land”.

Students imagine they are about to board the basket of a hot air balloon to fly to a new country: no human being has ever set foot in this part of the earth, meaning that they are pioneers establishing a new world. They are asked to select the things that they would like to bring along from a set of cards. Students can also fill-in blank cards to add some additional things they think they might need or like to have. Cards represent concrete things (such as jewellery, sweets, medicines or nutritious food) and principles (such as fair treatment and non-discrimination). They will be later asked to drop some of the cards because the hot air balloon is about to lose altitude and they need to reduce the weight. Participants learn what their needs and their wants are: they learn to differ what they really need and what they want to have but not necessarily need. They learn to connect human needs and human rights.

During the activity, a 14 years old boy asked the project educators if he can add a card with condoms. This leads to a discussion involving the whole class about the importance of contraception and to educators explaining what sexual and reproductive health and rights are.

The Contraception Atlas, issued each year by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF), shows that “access to contraception should be a key concern of governments in empowering citizens to plan their families and lives. Yet every country analysed by the 2019 Contraception Atlas needs to do more to improve access. The findings show that for many European countries, ensuring that people have choice over their reproductive lives is not a priority”. The Atlas tracks government policies on access to contraceptive methods, family planning counselling and provision of online information, and highlights that, even when these services are provided, the rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortion is still high if sex education is not provided in schools.