Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network (iYAN) consists of youth activists and adult allies from low and middle-income countries who are working to influence policies and programs in their countries and internationally to support improved youth reproductive and sexual health. Members of the iYAN connect to share information about their work; are provided information about scholarships and networking opportunities; get up-to-date information on downloadable advocacy materials and tool kits; and receive a monthly newsletter with information on advocacy, youth activism, and mobilization on important issues like sex education, access to contraception, and prevention of adolescent maternal mortality and HIV.
Sharing Our Passion
Amplify’s Recent Featured Blogs
Every day, young people from all over the world join Amplify
, Advocates’ new youth activist website, to make their voice heard! Amplify is an online community dedicated to sexual health, reproductive justice, and youth-led grassroots movement building. Amplify isn’t about making the world suddenly perfect – it’s about change, about standing up for what we believe in. It’s also a place to celebrate the incredible work we’re doing around the world. And when it comes to sexual health, reproductive justice, and making sure that the rights of young people – all young people, everywhere – are respected by those in power… Well, there’s an awful lot of work to do! But, you can start now…check out our most recent featured blogs on Amplify from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the United States.
By Kike, Nigeria
There were 3 nurses seated when I entered the facility and they all welcomed me nicely, even though they had this surprised look on their faces. Then I asked “Is there a youth Friendly Center here? I mean, is there a place where I can ask about sexual and reproductive health related questions”? Then one of the nurses asked me “Did someone send you here?” I figured she inferred I was sent by someone to spy on them or something. So I responded “Don’t young people come here to ask questions and get information about their Sexual Reproductive Health?” Then she looked at the other nurse and smiled. At this point I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. She then said “No! Not that”……Read the rest of the entry
By Hilina, Ethiopia
This true story of a young girl is one example of how abortion is a serious problem in my country. Moreover, it exposes many young women to fistula and HIV/AIDS. Due to this fact, a large number of youth associations and organizations are working hard to create awareness on the consequence of unwanted pregnancy. However much has to be done in order to save the lives of many…..Read the rest of the entry
By Alex, United States
This past week I had the privilege of viewing the world premiere of a new film, Youth Producing Change, at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York. As a visual compilation of life stories from young people all over the world, Youth Producing Change (YPD) captured the everyday struggles and triumphs young people deal with. Teen homelessness, HIV/AIDS, preserving an Islamic identity in a western culture, racial profiling, child labor and sexual assault were only a few of the topics these films exposed…..Read the rest of the entry
Celebrating International Youth Day in Liberia
By Alfonso, Executive Director of Youth for Community and Academic Services (YOCADS)
The 19th President of Liberia, William Richard Tolbert, once remarked that the youth are the “precious jewels” of the nation. Perhaps one of the realizations that dawned on the late president’s mind is that youth are the indispensable asset of the nation, and that future progress and sustainability of the state depends on our leadership now. If our growth and development process is obtuse or obscure, it reflects the function of the generic malaise of that nation. Each nation must prioritize the welfare of its youth in order to make any progress in reaching our targets, particularly those in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
A coherent approach to youth issues is a priority for Liberia, one of the most traumatized countries in Africa, coming out of fourteen years of civil strife. The vast majority of those affected by the war are youth, a large number of whom now feel alienated, frustrated and vulnerable. Many of them were witnesses to the gruesome murders of their mothers and fathers and/or other loved ones.
However, young people all over the world have a valuable role to play to ensure that policies and programs provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to address issues that affect them. Also, meaningful youth participation is absolutely essential at all levels of policy and programming, from design through implementation and evaluation, if development is to be achieved – especially in Liberia. This is why the Youth Community Academic and Development Services (YOCADS), a civil society youth organization, will celebrate annual International Youth Day on August 12, 2009, in collaboration with civil society organizations, development partners, youth and student groups, and faith–based groups, among others.
The celebration of International Youth Day, led by YOCADS, focused on progress made to reach the goals of the World Program of Africa for Youth, including how far Liberia is relative to ratifying the African Youth charter and enacting into law the National Youth Policy of Liberia. International Youth Day was celebrated under the theme: “Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.”
If Liberia is to achieve the MDGs and PRS, effort must be made by all concerned to ensure that the youth of Liberia feel more empowered – politically, socially and economically. Moreover, government and development partners should do much more to involve the youth in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of recovery and reconstruction strategies for Liberia.
By Milinda, Advocacy Director of National Youth Coalition of Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) in Sri Lanka
In an effort to raise the bar on Sri Lanka’s response to HIV & AIDS, a group of local and international organizations that actively work in the field of HIV & AIDS, Sexuality, and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) have come together to form one collective voice! This coalition, which has adopted the slogan ‘Together We Are the Solution’ as its mantra, believes in consistent and clear messages in terms of advocacy and awareness on HIV & AIDS, Sexuality and SRHR.
Whilst Sri Lanka remains “a low prevalence” country, HIV infections are on the rise, with an increase of 202 new infections reported in 2008 from the previous year. Moreover, if we are to learn the lessons from other South Asian nations like India, a country that has a “low prevalence” of HIV, we should strive to remain a “low prevalence” country. Awareness, education and advocacy are needed now!
The coalition wants to go beyond isolated workshops and events that spring up around World AIDS Day. We seek to challenge the young people and adult allies of our country to “LEARN MORE! STAND UP! & SPEAK OUT!” to remove the culture of silence and fear that surrounds HIV, sex and sexuality and to move towards an equitable and healthy society for all.
“We want to have more than the token World AIDS Day event- this is about continuous awareness raising of HIV & AIDS related issues whilst at the same time to advocate for the rights and needs of those who already live with HIV in Sri Lanka,” says Milinda Rajapaksha from the National Youth Coalition for Sexual & Reproductive Rights.
Currently, the coalition includes representation from Positive Hopes Alliance, Lanka + (PLHIV Support organizations), The Salvation Army, EQUAL GROUND, Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), Beyond Borders, Companions on a Journey, The Youth committee of the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, National Youth Coalition Sri Lanka (NYCSL), PANOS, National STD & AIDS Control programme (NSACP), Save Lanka Kids, World Vision and The Women’s Support Group. It is hoped that more agencies will join as we gather momentum for the event-series leading up to World AIDS Day.
With full financial support from UNAIDS, the Together We Are The Solution program plans to begin its work in Colombo and then visit Kandy, Galle, Negombo, Batticaloa and Anuradhapura, conducting similar events modified to suit the needs and requirements of each of the visited towns. The events will include street theatre, quiz competitions, interactive games like condom cricket and more. All of these events will be designed specifically to discuss HIV, sex and sexuality in sensitive and culturally appropriate ways.
My Voice Counts!
Simple and Easy: You can be an iYAN Writer too!
Your voice is an essential part of what makes this newsletter a success. Please submit your stories to share with other youth activists from around the world!
Here is some information on submitting articles for the newsletter:
- Articles should be no more than 500 words.
- Language should be simple and easy for non-native English speakers to read.
- If you have a photo, would like us to include it with your article, and can send it via email, please do! It’s okay if you do not have a photo, but we would like to bring a face to your words when we have the chance.
- Advocates for Youth edits all published materials, so we will send you the revised draft for your approval before it is featured in the newsletter. We want to make sure that you are happy with the final product as well!
- When you submit an article, it may not appear right away in the next issue but we will be sure to include it in the next possible newsletter.
- Even if you’ve already submitted an article, you can still send others for upcoming issues of the newsletter.
Mark Your Calendar: 4th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights!
Join more than 500 policymakers, activists and practitioners, including young persons, people living with HIV & AIDS, with disabilities, and LGBQTI persons from Africa and around the world to attend the 4th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights—to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from February 8-10, 2009. The 4th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights promises to be an important event for discussions on sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender and violence against women, HIV, poverty and population in African countries.
To learn more about the conference, check out the website here.
The deadline to submit abstracts is September 30th!
What’s Going On at Advocates for Youth?
World Population Day on Capitol Hill
In honor of World Population Day, the United Nations (UN) Foundation and UNFPA co-sponsored a briefing that was held on July 18, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the briefing was to discuss the importance of investing in women and girls’ education and reproductive health and rights as a strategy to breaking the cycle of poverty and gender inequity.
The briefing was moderated by Kathy Hall, Deputy Director of Women and Population at the UN Foundation. The panel included the following speakers: Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Kakenya Ntaiya, Founder of Kakenya Center for Excellence in Kenya, Stephanie Baric, Manager of the Power to Lead Alliance at CARE, Dr. Boge Gebre, founder of the Kembatta Women’s Self-Help Center in Ethiopia, and Mehwish Qureshi, member of the International Youth Leadership Council at Advocates for Youth.
Panelists stressed the importance of community-based interventions for combating gender inequity, girls’ education for improving the overall status and health of girls and women, and how women and girls’ education, sexual and reproductive health, and freedom from gender-based violence are fundamental human rights. Panelists spoke to these issues based on their own work and personal experiences, underscoring how investment in women and girls’ education and access to reproductive health information and services empowers women to create a better future for themselves and their families.
To read youth activist, Mehwish’s speech, click here:
Future Global Gag Rule? The President Might Have to Ask Congress First!
By: Brian Ackerman, International Policy Manager
The global gag rule is the executive order that prevents any organization based outside the U.S. that is receiving U.S. government funds from providing abortion services, making abortion referrals, or even discussing abortion as a healthcare option with clients—even if such services were to be supported with non-US funds. Originally imposed by President Ronald Reagan at the Conference on Population and Development in Mexico City, Mexico in 1984, the order is officially called the “Mexico City Policy.” Because of the silence it imposes, it has been unofficially named “the global gag rule” by many opponents of the policy.
Since 1984, the policy has been a standard signal of a President’s policy stance on reproductive health and choice. President George H. W. Bush maintained the policy, while President Clinton reversed it his first day in office. President George W. Bush reinstated the gag rule on his first day in office, and President Obama reversed it by executive order within his first week of power. The policy cannot be applied to organizations based in the United States as it would violate constitutional protections of freedom of speech.
We are excited to report that the Senate Appropriations Committee successfully included a provision in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill on Thursday, July 9, to block executive reinstatement of the global gag rule by a potential future hostile Presidential administration. If this provision makes it through conference committee and President Obama signs it, this would mean that if an anti-choice President wanted to reinstate the rule, Congress would have to successfully push through an amendment to the annual appropriations bill that removes this provision.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) offered the provision to be included in the Senate State and Foreign Operations FY 2010 Appropriations bill on July 9, which succeeded 17-11 in committee. Advocates for Youth was one of a group of organizations that openly supported and advocated for its inclusion as it was circulated for support.
While it may be a way to make vividly clear a President’s position on choice, the constant shift back and forth of the global gag rule throws into sharp relief the indecency of using women’s bodies and women’s choices as a source of political capital. The devastating impact of this policy, and its constantly shifting nature, is well-documented. The policy directly contradicted America’s commitments to public health, development, and human rights in both moral and monetary terms, leading to wasted resources in healthcare infrastructure development. Even today, with the most pro-choice President in the recent history of the United States, many recipients of U.S. foreign assistance are reluctant to acknowledge that the rule has been eliminated for fear that they would create systems and structures that would require complete transformation in just a few years if a hostile U.S. President is voted in.
The recent vote in the Senate Appropriations committee highlights political leadership, commitment to moving towards universal access to reproductive health, and plainly, good public policy. Should the policy survive the full appropriations process and be signed into law, we will truly see the power of our elected officials working for health over ideology. How refreshing!
Jamaica’s Youth Produce A Call to Action at Youth-led Forum
The Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), a partner of Advocates for Youth, hosted the Youth Action Forum on July 15, 2009, in Kingston, Jamaica. The forum sought to allow youth-serving NGOs to share challenges and progress that they have made in advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people through community-based programs and advocacy on national and international policies.
The objectives of the Youth Action Forum were to:
- Strengthen NGOs working in partnership to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for youth
- Highlight the achievements of the Sex Ed project as a youth-led and youth-serving program in comprehensive sexual education and a response to the SRH needs of Jamaica’s youth.
- Facilitate the sharing of progress and lessons learned of the youth-serving NGOs in SRHR.
- Identify the gaps in the government response to the SRHR needs of young people and how an NGO-Government partnership can facilitate such a response.
- Produce a Call to Action that will be shared with allies internationally at the Berlin NGO Forum, to be hosted in September 2009, and domestically as a document that provides recommendations for policy makers to advance SRHR for young people and meaningfully include young people in the policy-decision making process in Jamaica.
TheYouth Action Forum invited participants representing NGOs throughout Jamaica that:
- Focus on activities that address key issues that affect youth, especially sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, and youth participation.
- Work at either a community, parish, regional or national level.
- Are interested and able to share best practices, lessons learned and areas for capacity building.
- Will commit to collaborative follow-up to Youth Action Forum, guided by the Call to Action that was produced during the Forum.
The Forum included skills-building workshops, round table talks, and panel sessions. Prior to the Forum, a questionnaire was sent to participants to inform the discussion and skills-building sessions. Youth Action Forum produced an outcome document, in collaboration with all participants and with the assistance of specially assigned writers. In the coming months, the Call to Action Article will be presented to decision-makers for advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for Jamaica’s youth in communities, through the media, and with national policymakers. In addition, the Call to Action will be shared with international allies at the Berlin NGO Forum in September.
Read All About It
Stephen Lewis, co-Director of the AIDS-Free World, Says Science and Activism are Inseparable in the Fight Against AIDS
At the opening of the International AIDS Society Conference on Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention on July 19, 2009, in Capetown, South Africa, Stephen Lewis, co-Director of the AIDS-Free World, delivered a powerful speech on the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Check out an excerpt of his speech:
“No one should underestimate the power and influence of science when it decides to take a stand…Somehow, along with the science, we need the activism. They are inseparable. So when, as now, there’s a backlash against funding for AIDS, with mindless charges against AIDS exceptionalism, you should find a way, collectively, to shoot down the pinched bureaucrats and publicity-seeking academics who advocate exchanging the health of some for the health of others – who propose robbing Peter to pay Paul rather than arguing, in principled fashion, that money must be found for every imperative, including maternal and child health, and sexual and reproductive health, and environmental health as well as all the resources required to turn the tide of the AIDS pandemic.”
Women in Uganda Face Burden of HIV Disclosure
Glorius Kyarihunda, a 25-year old woman was murdered by her husband of ten years. Evidence shows that days before, Glorius’ husband blamed her for his positive HIV test. Glorius was one of the five women murdered in 2008 for similar circumstances, while thousands more have suffered abuse or eviction. However, most women tend to find out their HIV status before their husbands–thus, placing the burden of disclosure on them and increasing the risk of violence or abandonment.
Currently, Uganda is debating a bill that gives a person six weeks after testing positive to tell their partner before the government does. The law contains important measures to criminalize malicious and intentional transmission of HIV; however, those cases are rare. In practice, such a forced disclosure rule disproportionally criminalizes women living in fear of abuse.
HIV Status Remains an Unknown for Most People Living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica
The Ministry of Health in Jamaica recently confirmed that 18,000 or two-thirds of the estimated 27,000 people living with HIV/AIDS do not know their status. The analysis was based on statistics of people who have been confirmed with HIV and the number of their sexual partners. Now, the Ministry of Health is encouraging voluntary tests for the virus. Recently, more than 1,664 people tested voluntarily for HIV during a Scotiabank/MOH partnership–and more than sixty-percent of those tested were female.
To read more, click here.
Research Shows HIV rates among Gay Men in Africa are High
Lancet, a medical journal, recently released a report that shows that HIV rates among gay men in some African countries are ten times higher than among the general male population. The cultural, religious, and political unwillingness to accept gay men as equal members of society has led to isolation and harassment among gay communities, which in turn leads to lack of education and services and continued risky sexual practices.
Nigeria Integrates Gender into National HIV/AIDS Framework
With every sixth African being Nigerian, the country has the largest number of persons living with AIDS per population after South Africa and India. Among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Nigeria, half are women. In response, Nigeria has outlined gender-related objectives for the National Strategic Framework (NSF), including strategies to achieve the plan like the improvement of access and affordability of reproductive health services and the development of a condom policy and strategies for increasing condom use.
To read more, click here:
Tools You Can Use
Putting Young People into National Poverty Reduction Strategies
A Guide to Statistics on Young People in Poverty, from UNFPA
Many national poverty reduction strategies overlook the needs of young people. Even where national strategies do have a youth focus, the analysis of their situation is limited, because little or no reference is made to readily available data. For those advocating on behalf of young people in poverty, considerable scope exists to make use of simple but reputable statistics to mount a strong case for Governments and civil society to allocate more resources for addressing poverty among this major population group.The purpose of this step-by-step guide is to show how relevant statistics on young people in poverty can be easily sourced for use in developing national poverty reduction strategies. The guide shows how to use accessible databases on the Internet to provide individual countries with sophisticated statistical profiles of young people in poverty.
The available data can provide a profile at three different levels of young people in poverty. At the broadest level, it is possible to show how significant young people, defined as a specific age group, are in a country’s basic demographic structure now and in the future. The second level focuses in on the incidence of young people in poverty, using; for example, national averages based on Millennium Development Goals indicators. A third level of data offers a more differentiated picture of young people in poverty. This involves presenting detailed data that takes into account young people’s differences by gender, rural/urban location, and where the data is available, household poverty status.
Peer Education Training Manual, by International HIV/AIDS Alliance
This training manual describes ways in which NGOs may design, deliver and manage training programs for peer educators. Its purpose is to assist NGOs to design and implement strategies and work-plans for peer education, as part of comprehensive sexual health interventions.
This training manual is ideal for use in groups of 15-20 participants.
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
“Investments in children and the realization of their rights
are among the most effective ways to eradicate poverty.”*
In recognition of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 2009 observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty focuses on the plight of children living in poverty and the need to fulfill their rights in partnership with them and in keeping with the Convention.
The observance highlights the role of the convention in securing children’s rights, in particular the right to survival and full development, the right to protection from abuse and exploitation and the right to participationin family, cultural and social life. Participation also means that children have the right to express their opinions and have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate.
The observance will present an opportunity for children to speak out against poverty and dialogue with others. Children, young people, parents, and people will work together to implement policies which strengthen both children and their families in tackling poverty and exclusion.
As for the Convention of the Rights of the Child, it was adopted in November 1989 and is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. It is also the first international instrument to include the full range of human rights—civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural. In recent years, ratifying nations added two optional protocols—one on children in armed conflict and the other on child prostitution and pornography. The Convention provides an international consensus on children’s rights. As such, it applies to everyone under the age of 18, except in countries that legally define adulthood as beginning at an age younger than 18.
In advocating for youth’s reproductive and sexual health and rights, the following articles from the Convention may be of value:
Article 13: “Children have the right to get and share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or others … Freedom of expression includes the right to share information in any way they choose, including by talking, drawing or writing.”
Article 17: “Children have the right to get information that is important to their health and well-being. Governments should encourage mass media … to provide information that children can understand and to not promote materials that could harm children.”
Article 24: “Children have the right to good quality health care – the best health care possible, to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy…”
Article 28: “The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.”
To learn more about International Day for Eradicating Poverty, click here:
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