Internship – Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

15 September 2017

UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office, Johannesburg, South Africa

  1. Introduction to UNFPA

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an international development agency, supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

UNFPA envisions an East and Southern Africa where all adolescents are healthy, productive and empowered, are free from sexually transmitted infections including HIV, do not experience unwanted pregnancies, are not forced into child marriages or suffer sexual violence. This is a generation which must be equipped with comprehensive knowledge and skills regarding their sexuality, rights, and one whose behaviour favours good health. In order to enable adolescents and young people to successfully transition to adulthood, the issue of their rights and sexual and reproductive health must be supported by a multifaceted programme. The UNFPA programme therefore addresses young people holistically, taking into account the diverse social, economic and cultural contexts affecting their healthy development.

  1. Background

AU Member States adopted “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the youth” as the theme for the year 2017. Health and Wellbeing is one of the four pillars elaborated by the AUC and Partners in the roadmap for the year 2017.

Health, including Sexual and Reproductive Health is recognised as critical in speeding up the demographic transition and improving the productivity of the workforce. As such, to harness the demographic dividend, it is critical to make strategic investments that would improve health outcomes. Harmonising the legal environment for adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health therefore contributes to ensuring responsive and conducive environments for adolescents and youth.

Agenda 2063 “commits member states to integrate sexual and reproductive health and rights, family planning and HIV/AIDS services through reinforcing action on earlier commitments.  The AU 2017 Demographic Dividend roadmap specifically calls for the scaling up, the promotion and implementation of policies, community engagement strategies and behavioural change measures to enhance the reproductive rights of women and adolescent girls and their access to sexual and reproductive health education, information and services and further calls for AUC and partners to create an enabling environment by empowering communities. 

In collaboration with the RECs, UNFPA ESARO (United Nations Population Fund’s East and Southern Regional Office hereon referred to as ESARO) has contracted Business Enterprises at University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd to conduct an assessment of the laws and policies that affect adolescents and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in 23 East and Southern African countries. The research examined whether the national laws and policies protect or impede the rights of adolescents and young people to access sexual and reproductive health, and whether these laws and policies are harmonized, contradict each other or have loopholes that need to be closed. The assessment culminated in the development of a harmonized regional legal framework to be adopted by the Regional Economic Communities. The harmonized Framework contains the legal wording to be adopted by ESA countries for ASRH-related national laws and policies and can be used to develop a regional ASRH Law or protocol as well.

The research includes 2 main components: Firstly, the assessment of laws and policies in the 23 ESA countries-achieved through a desktop review of relevant legislation and policies and 6 in-depth country case studies. The countries selected for in-depth studies are Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia. Literature reviews coupled with focus groups and interviews with adolescents and young people (10 to 24 years old), health providers, representatives of the education sector, NGOs and legal experts were used to carry out the country case studies. The FGDs and interviews with adolescents and young people aimed to countercheck the laws and policies in the books and the concrete lived experiences of adolescents and young people.

The objective of the six in-depth country case studies was to better understand how the laws and policies protect the rights of adolescents and young people and affect their sexual and reproductive health, through concrete examples highlighting the experiences of adolescents and young people between 10 and 24 in a sample of countries.

The laws and policies considered cover four legal and policy pillars:

Health pillar

  • Ages of consent to medical treatment, including treatment for HIV and access to contraceptive aids
  • Reproductive health services including termination of pregnancy
  • Criminalisation of HIV transmission
  • National AIDS plans with a focus on addressing stigma and discrimination

 Education pillar

  • Management of sexual abuse in schools and protection of victims
  • Management of learner pregnancies including re-integration policy
  • Provision of comprehensive sexuality education

Socio-cultural pillar

  • Ages of consent to sexual activity
  • Ages of consent to marriage
  • Criminalisation of consensual sexual activity among children
  • Harmful cultural practices

Gender pillar

  • Gender specific legal protection
  • Protection for victims of sexual abuse
  • Sexual diversity

The Harmonized Framework contains the legal wording to be adopted by ESA countries for ASRH-related national laws and policies in order to harmonize such instruments and ensure a human rights based policy environment. The Framework is informed by the findings of the regional study.

  1. Purpose of the internship

The purpose of the internship is to assist the UNFPA ESARO Adolescent and Youth team to produce 4 scientific articles worth being published to support dissemination of key findings of a regional study conducted on 23 countries in East and Southern Africa on laws and policies affecting Adolescent and sexual Reproductive Health. This is part of the research uptake plan of the study.

  1. Main duties and responsibilities
  • Undertake the review of the Laws and Policy Full Report and its regional Framework to collect all the relevant information;
  • Define, in collaboration with the SYP coordinator the outline of the articles;
  • Draft the articles in collaboration with the SYP coordinator and share with relevant colleagues and University of Pretoria for approval;
  • Work on a research uptake plan.
  1. Deliverables



UNFPA support

  1. A time schedule/work plan for the delivery of the assignment;

1 week

SYP regional coordinator

  1. Literature review and laws and policy review report and related framework in-depth analysis;

2 weeks

SYP regional coordinator

  1. Research uptake plan and Identification of possible international and regional journals for the publication of the articles;

1 week

SYP regional coordinator

Research Specialist

  1. Submission of 4 draft scientific articles on 4 main rights identified from the regional study.

4 weeks

SYP regional coordinator

Publication committee

  1. Finalization of Research uptake plan and articles ready for publication

1 weeks

SYP regional coordinator

  1. Organizational setting and management  

The intern is expected to work from the UNFPA ESARO main office in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, South Africa under the leadership of the Deputy Regional Director and the direct supervision of the SYP Regional Coordinator. The intern is also expected to collaborate with other members of the ESARO Adolescent and Youth team as well as other units of the regional office and possibly country offices.

  1. Logistics

The intern will have to bring bring his/her own laptop – a desktop will be provided. A desk, a landline phone and internet connection will be made available at the UNFPA ESARO office for the duration of the assignment. Non-South African candidates will have to obtain at their own cost an internship visa for South Africa prior to coming to the country.

  1. Qualifications and key competencies
  • The candidate must be a master degree graduate from studies in Law, International law, Human rights law or Political Sciences.
  • Have experience during academic training in drafting scientific articles for Journals, thesis on legal subjects.
  • Good communication (spoken and written) skills, including the ability to explain and present technical information effectively.
  • Good interpersonal skills and ability to establish and maintain effective partnerships and working relations in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Computer literacy.
  1. Financial aspects

Interns do not receive a salary or any other form of remuneration from UNFPA. The costs associated with an internship will have to be originated by the selected candidate himself/herself including meeting living expenses as well as make their own arrangements for accommodation, travel and other requirements. In addition, applicants must have medical insurance for the duration of the internship.

NB: The intern will have the opportunity to be acknowledged as co-author of the articles published.  

  1. Application procedure

Interested candidates are requested to kindly complete the attached internship application form, submit a motivation letter (one page maximum), one example of a relevant authored or co-authored article and a CV to Ruth Chirimuta (, with copy to Renata Tallarico ( by 15 September 2017. Kindly read the attached Internships Policy document. Short-listing of applications will be followed by panel interviews before the final selection.