With assistance from Advocates for Youth and our partner organizations, the national youth leadership councils have been able to accomplish all of the activities listed below.
The 2011-2012 council members are:
Abongwa | Jaevion | Maxsalia | Roli | Taonga
In Ethiopia, Ethiopian youth Council for Higher Opportunities (ECHO) has:
- Participated in the national youth day celebration organized by TaYA, seven youth-led and youth-focused organizations, and several government ministries. The Council’s participation allowed members to talk about their mission and other reproductive and sexual health issues with a wide range of groups, including more than 100 youth-led organizations and government ministers and other stakeholders, such as the Minster of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
- Mobilized 80 young people to distribute 2,000 flyers and t-shirts at the 10K Great Ethiopian Run. The marathon was attended by 35,000 people and transmitted live on Ethiopian television. The flyers contained information about the Council’s work and the t-shirts had messages promoting access to contraception for youth and inclusion of youth in policy decision making.
- Launched a monthly newspaper that focuses on youth reproductive health and other policy issues related to youth development, including the Council’s advocacy goals and the reproductive and sexual health and rights of young women. TaYA and the Council currently make the publication available to all 500 Members of Parliament, 500 NGOs and youth clubs/associations, and 200 schools and colleges. As Ethiopian print media is currently in its infant stage, the newspaper is filling an important gap. TaYA’s newspaper is the only publication focused specifically on youth and on reproductive and sexual health issues
- Introduced the Council and its activities to key stakeholders, including members of the media. For example, the Council invited a journalist from a local radio station to report on its advocacy training. The journalist conducted an interview with the Council members that has been aired on an FM radio station in Addis Ababa. Two additional radio programs will broadcast a live chat on unplanned pregnancy with the Council and recently, an interview with three Council members was broadcast on FM 97.1 for two consecutive weeks. During the 30-minute conversation, the youth discussed the Council’s activities. The radio station has invited five Council members to return for an interview next month to discuss the need of youth-friendly reproductive services.
- Organized a public debate forum for World AIDS Day on youth-friendly reproductive health services. Over 225 guests included members of Parliament and other government officials. Three of Ethiopia’s most popular radio and TV outlets covered the event, and TaYA organized a live radio talk show the following week to continue the discussion. The Council is planning two additional public debates on the World Bank and other international NGOs/bilateral organizations that are funding country-level HIV/AIDS interventions. The debates will draw attention to the fact that these organizations and agencies are not giving youth sufficient opportunities to participate in planning, implementing, and evaluating the interventions.
- Served as a youth voice and sharing information about the International Youth Speak Out Project at international conferences and gatherings, including the World Youth Congress in Quebec City, Canada; the African Development Forum; and the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa in Senegal, where they participated with EVA and Advocates in the Youth Front pre-conference and other advocacy activities.
In Jamaica, Jamaicans Safely Tackling Adolescent and Reproductive health (J-STAR) has:
- Facilitated a youth forum on sexuality and young people at the Ministry of Education on World AIDS Day. The forum attracted 250 students from 20 high schools and various other key stakeholders, including the Director for HIV Prevention unit at the Ministry of Health and Environment; the HIV/AIDS Coordinator from the Ministry of Education; the Director of the NGO Children First; and Dahlia Harris, a famous actress and radio and TV personality.
- Partnered with the Youth Interventions Officer from the National HIV/STI Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and Environment to meet with key players from the Ministry and present a list of recommendations for implementing youth leadership programs and mainstreaming family planning and HIV programs.
- Planned a high school mass sex education campaign and a radio show tour for Safer Sex Week in February 2009.
- Launched the first-ever Jamaica Safer Sex Week Blog-a-thon on Advocates’ Amplify website. To view the blogs of the council members and other young advocates in Jamaica, go to: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/Jamaica.
In Nigeria, Association of Youth Advocates (AYA) has:
- Launched a monthly online newsletter and bulletin that features articles on the Council’s work and key policies and programs that members are advocating to change, including maternal health, teen pregnancy, early marriage, and the feminization of HIV.
- Distributed 3,000 copies of a “My Question and Answer” brochure to secondary and tertiary institutions in Abuja that includes a toll-free phone service for youth that offers information on reproductive and sexual health and rights.
- For World AIDS Day, the council conducted a drama presentation for 500 people in Dutse (northern Nigeria) on HIV/AIDS and adolescent reproductive and sexual health.
- Provided 10 media outlets with information about the Council in order to build relationships.
- Conducted six interviews for World AIDS Day. These interviews resulted in pieces that aired on/were featured in six popular print and radio outlets to promote the meaningful participation of youth in decision-making regarding policies and policy implementation and increasing youth access to youth-friendly information and services on reproductive and sexual health issues, including access to contraception.
- Met with the Director of HIV/AIDS at the Ministry of Education to introduce the Council. Letters requesting similar meetings were sent to the Ministries of Education, Health, Youth Development, and Women’s Affairs. These meetings are a first step in building relationships with government stakeholders and beginning to advocate for a youth presence within the ministries either on existing decision-making bodies that address youth reproductive and sexual health issues or the creation of a youth consultative body in absence of existing structures.
- Attended the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa in Senegal. Council members and Advocates’ staff attended the Youth Front pre-conference that trains youth leaders in reproductive and sexual health issues, advocacy, and media work and provides orientation to the conference. The youth also participated in the youth pavilion, advocacy campaign, commitments desk, and youth closing ceremony and actively recruited members for Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network. Finally, the youth met with senior-level advisors, including the Gender HIV/AIDS Technical Manager of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in Nigeria to advocate for a position on NACA’s Council on the Gender HIV/AIDS Technical Committee, and the Senior Programme Advisor for the African Division of UNFPA, who committed to helping the Council arrange meetings with the Ministry of Health.
- Conducted presentations with four organizations in Abuja to recruit a coalition that will support the Council’s goals and objectives. For example, the Council will request that coalition members sign on to letters and/or proposals that it will submit as part of its upcoming lobby visits with various Ministries, in order to prove that civil society is supportive of its recommendations.
To find out how to forge partnerships with these organizations, contact the coordinators of the councils:
- Ephrem Berhanu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
- Tope Fashola, Abuja, Nigeria:
- Andrew Francis, Kingston, Jamaica:
Contact Mimi Melles, Manager of the International Youth Speak Out (iYSO) Project for any general questions in regards to this article at