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The sponsorship - covering travel costs, registration fees and allowances for accommodation - is aimed at youth and adolescents in Myanmar who work in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, allowing them to connect with other young leaders in the region and learn from each other.

"This is an opportunity for young people to express their own experience in their own words. This is a a chance for Young People to take charge and to be involved in issues that relate to their sexual and reproductive health and their choices in relationships", says Janet E. Jackson, UNFPA Representative in Myanmar.

The 50 youth participants, coming from different parts of the country, bring with them valuable experience in sexual and reproductive health and rights in Myanmar. Ko Myat Min Hein, a 23-year-old working with Myanmar Medical Association on youth development and sexual health, is one of them.

"I knew as soon as I learned about the conference that this was a great opportunity to learn new things as well as to share my knowledge with others. I thank UNFPA for making it possible to take part in such an event that is first of its kind in Myanmar," says Ko Myat Min Hein, who also highlighted that the knowledge he gained from the conference would be of great help to his work as a peer educator in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

UNFPA is also sponsoring 200 adult participants, from both government and non-government organizations, to the conference organized by Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association.

The APCSRHR Youth Conference, which takes place on 23 February, consists of seminars and workshops dedicated to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, along with parallel panel meetings, satellite sessions, and a performance and cultural show.

Reproductive and sexual health and rights of youth are fundamental for all countries, including Myanmar. These rights are enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 3.7: "By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes."

Continued investment in youth will help Myanmar to move towards the next stage of development. Therefore, investing in policies and programmes to address challenges and inequalities in young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights and in gender are crucial for the future of the country.

Although a "Five-Year National Strategic Plan for Young People's Health (2016-2020)" was developed and launched in 2015, Myanmar still needs a comprehensive youth policy that could help ensure the future and sustainable development of the country by providing direction for multi-sectoral support to youth programming. Youth policies are important for shaping development because they concern both the current and future labour force of countries.

According to the 2014 census, 28 per cent of Myanmar's overall 51.5 million population are aged 10-24, offering the country an opportunity to capitalize on a possible ‘demographic dividend', provided that deliberate efforts are made to ensure equitable growth and to provide opportunities for young people's potential to be fulfilled.