• The group says the forum will bring together youths to share their experiences on the challenges they encounter on matters relating to their reproductive health
• Catholic bishops and President Kenyatta on Friday voiced concerns that the conference will promote gay rights and abortion
The civil society has dismissed as irresponsible and misplaced remarks s that a conference that opens tomorrow might introduce ideologies harmful to family and societal values.
The Civil Society Reference Group was on Sunday referring to Catholic bishops' and President Uhuru Kenyatta's fears that the two-day International Conference on Population and Development at KICC will destabilise family values and undermine cultural heritage.
The bishops had on Friday complained that the conference had disguised its agenda yet it seeks to promote same-sex relations and abortion.
On the same day, President Kenyatta poured cold water on the conference, saying he was aware there is some agenda to be discussed that are in conflict with Kenya's culture and warned that the country will firmly reject them.
The November 12-14 forum will be co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Denmark and the UN Population Fund.
The civil society outfit, through national convenor Suba Churchill, said the concerns were "uncalled for, irresponsible and constitute a threat to ....the rights of the organisers and participants to associate, assemble and express themselves."
The meeting, according to the group, will only bring together the youth aged 18-26 to share their experiences on the challenges they encounter on matters relating to their reproductive health.
"The impression that any time young people meet, they are always preoccupied with matters to do with sex is misguided," Churchill said.
He said the conference only seeks to "equip young people with the understanding they need to develop advocacy plans and skills they need to communicate with decision-makers if they are to leverage on existing accountability mechanisms to advance the ICPD+25 agenda at the local, national and global levels."
The conference will also help young people to draw on their diversity to coalesce a broader global youth movement around a shared agenda to drive economic growth and achieve sustainable development.
It will provide networking, relationship-building and ideas-sharing opportunities.