On March 5th, 2013, New Zealand MPs Hon. Maryan Street and Dr. Cam Calder were joined by Solomon Islands MPs, key officials, representatives of international organizations and civil society representatives at National Parliament in Honiara to launch a report on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Pacific.
The report, ‘Pacific Youth: Their Rights, Our Future’, is based on the findings of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) Open Hearing on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Pacific which was held in Wellington in June of 2012.
Solomon Islands Minister of Health, Charles Sigoto spoke at the launch of the key role MPs have to play in matters of sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people in terms of political prioritization, legislation and budget allocation.
Directly preceding the launch Hon. Street and Dr. Calder met with the Minister of Health and a group of Solomon Islands parliamentarians at a roundtable meeting where recommendations from the report were discussed. Participants in the meeting included Hon. Douglas Ete who also attended the Open Hearing in Wellington last year.
Vice Chair of NZPPD Hon. Maryan Street reported after the meeting that Solomon Islands MPs have discussed establishing a Solomon Islands special interest group on population and development issues, this could be similar to NZPPD or could become a part of a pre-existing group. In turn NZPPD have offered their technical advice and support.
Hon. Street said “Seeing improvements in sexual and reproductive health rights will take time, energy and a sustained effort. This is not something that can be done in isolation, it will need an ongoing commitment by a group of parliamentarians.”
Discussions at the roundtable meeting and the report launch focused on key recommended actions from the report. The areas discussed included the need:
- For comprehensive sexuality education in formal and informal settings. Currently this is provided at secondary schools where 70% of young people are not enrolled.
- To revisit policies to ensure girls or their partners are not discriminated against by educational institutions due to pregnancy. There is no law which excludes young women from attending school after becoming pregnant or giving birth. However this appears to be common practice in Solomon Islands.
- To increase efforts to ensure Solomon Islands adolescents have access to a range of high quality, adolescent friendly, sexual and reproductive health services.
- To establish a special interest group on population and development for Solomon Islands parliamentarians.