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August 2011 iYAN Newsletter

August 2011 iYAN Newsletter

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

HIV and Prisoners in Jamaica
by Jaevion, Jamaica

A news report in the Sunday Observer of July 17, 2011 sparked a very short-lived debate around the issue of treatment and care for prisoners living with HIV in Jamaica. The news article, Left to Die – HIV inmates say they are neglected in prison, detailed the experiences of two men who ‘say that their medical and nutritional needs are being neglected by what they feel is an uncaring, inhumane prison system’.

Personally, I was very disturbed after reading this article. I know there are several problems with our prison system and prisoners like many other sub-populations in Jamaica receive very little respect. Prison officials were quick to say the article was inflammatory but were given very little space in the media to fully explain the situation. I had the chance to speak with someone who works in prisons in the area of treatment and care for people living with HIV. Through our discussion, I learned that the problem referred to in the article was a result of a national shortage of ARVs. Yes, even with funding from the Global Fund we had stock out of ARVs for a few months.

I am pleased to know that all prisoners are on ARVs. However, I am more concerned that we are nowhere closer to ensuring there is adequate and effective prevention interventions in our prisons in Jamaica. Read more

Females and India!
by Roli, India

India’s dichotomous nature is visible in all aspects of its economic, social and political growth. India is rapidly developing into an economic super-power, yet its development is not well rounded. This is reflected in the status of women in the Indian society. A 21st century Indian girl is smart, educated and equal, yet this picture represents a very small percentage of the Indian female population. Women leaders may be ruling the roost, directly or indirectly, a women’s rights bill may see the light of the day soon, prestigious national and state level exams may be cracked by female candidates; yet these developments have failed to transform India into a country which is perceived as a safe birth place for a girl child or a haven for a woman.

A global survey released by TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service in June, states that India is the world’s fourth most dangerous country for someone to be born as a woman. 100 million Indian women and girls are estimated to be involved in trafficking, while 50 million girls are called ‘missing’ over the past century due to female infanticide and feticide. These findings were preceded by reports of a growing number of affluent, educated and fertile Indians going to foreign destinations where doctors use a method which involves producing embryos through IVF and implanting only those of the desired gender (male) into the womb (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis-PGD). Read more

A Visit from the UNFPA Executive Director
by Abongwa, Cameroon

If there is a man who matches word with action, that person is the executive director of the UNFPA Professor Babatunde Osotimehin. He has not relented his effort in supporting the African Union Youth Volunteers Corps (AUYVC) since its inception, right up to the stage in which it is today. It is worth noting that over 30 young people selected for the second training were sponsored by the UNFPA and will be deployed to different UNFPA country offices in the continent and will be gaining vital skills that will increase their professional abilities, helping communities in which they will be deployed and also helping the UNFPA in meeting specific country goal objectives.

What’s New at Advocates for Youth?

Advocates and colleague organizations host sexual and reproductive health caucus at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth:

On July 24, Advocates, along with colleague organizations including the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, International Planned Parenthood Federation-Western Hemisphere Region, the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, YouAct, and Youth Peer Education Network (YPEER), with support from UNFPA and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, organized a Sexual and Reproductive Health Caucus immediately prior to the High Level Meeting on Youth in New York. Approximately 60 youth participated in the caucus from over 35 countries. Advocates’ youth leaders from Nepal, Jamaica, and one International Youth Council member attended.

As with previous youth caucuses/summits, staff provided orientation to youth participants already attending the meeting, facilitated the development of advocacy messages, and identified actions for continued advocacy efforts leading up to the 2012 Commission on Population and Development. Unfortunately, as with the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, there was little opportunity to influence negotiations or language for the outcome document on site. The final document includes only one reference to sexual and reproductive health and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV, among other health challenges, in the context of ensuring physical and mental health for youth.

While the outcome document was disappointing, the caucus served as a platform for continued movement building on site, which failed to mention the sexual and reproductive health of young people. However, the caucus served as a platform for continued movement building for youth rights and elevation of sexual and reproductive health and rights with an eye to the 2012 Commission on Population and Development.

Youth activists also engaged actively in side events throughout the High Level Meeting on Youth. Falin, from Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council, moderated a side-event entitled, “#OutOfTheBoxAdvocacy, Influencing Change Through Creative Communications and Social Media,” which focused on new media and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, sponsored by Advocates for Youth, GYCA, IPPF, Y-PEER, YouAct, and Youth Coalition. Presca from Nepal, spoke on a panel entitled, “Realizing Universal Access: Young People are the key to MDG 5b,” sponsored by Advocates for Youth, GYCA, IPPF, Y-PEER, YouAct, and Youth Coalition. She described the progress and the shortcomings of new sexual and reproductive health and rights focused policies in Nepal and the role they play in achieving MDG5b. She also discussed the most recent sexual and reproductive health and rights focused legislation passed in Nepal and shared recommendations about effective youth participation and involvement.

Lastly, Advocates’ youth leaders attended a side event hosted by USAID to gather input into their agency-wide youth policy that is currently being formulated. During the Q&A period, Presca talked about sexual and reproductive health and rights issues in Nepal, highlighted the need for effective youth participation, and Falin commented on the importance of youth partnerships with the private sector in development.

Youth advocates speak out on sexual and reproductive rights at Aspen Environment Forum:

The Aspen Environment Forum (AEF), in conjunction with National Geographic, was held from May 30-June 3, 2011 in Aspen, Colorado, U.S.A. The purpose of the forum was to explore issues such as urban ecosystems, biodiversity, climate, clean air, clean water, and food for a growing global population. Two of Advocates’ youth activists were sponsored by the forum to present, attend, and report from the meeting: Orain from the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network and Roli, Advocates’ International Year of Youth journalist from India. Orain and Roli presented on a panel entitled, “Sustainability 2050: Youth Leaders Speak.” They spoke about the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of climate change as well as the need for youth engagement in helping shift the dialogue to a human rights perspective.

In addition, Roli and Orain interviewed participants and speakers at the meeting and posted their reports from the Forum on Amplify. To read Roli’s blogs on the Forum, see below:

Networking and Social Media Campaigning

Sustainability 2050

The Director of US Geological Survey speaks out to the youth after some prodding

Bill McKibben on Population and Environment Connections

To read Orain’s blogs on the Forum, see below:

Aspen Environment Forum-sustainability 2050: youth leaders speak

Aspen Environmental Forum

To learn more about the Aspen Environmental Forum, visit their website.

Young people across the globe connect on Amplify for World Population Day!

Last month, from July 11-16, Advocates for Youth hosted a week-long blog-a-thon around World Population Day on Amplify. During that week, youth activists posted blogs reflecting on the world’s population and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Topics covered included: young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, sexuality as a cultural taboo, and approaches to sustainable development and global campaigns addressing the connections of sexual and reproductive health in the context of the environment.

Check out featured posts from the blogathon:

Seven Billion World Challenge Kicks Off (ashu)

Family planning services, not contraception, should be provided(yashoda)

World Population Week: Sexual Consent and Family Planning (judithavory)

Sex and Taboo (srijanna1)

Comprehensive reproductive health care in population perspective plan (rosy-6)

International Year of Youth Journalist, Jaevion, becomes a member of the NGO board for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Jaevion, of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) and International Year of Youth journalist supported by Advocates, has been selected to serve on the Delegation of Developing Country NGOs to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). The Global Fund was created in 2001 to increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need. The Delegation of Developing Country NGOs is one of the eight delegations within the Global Fund Board that represents stakeholders who implement programs on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. As a youth representative, Jaevion has a responsibility to articulate the needs of young people and to ensure that youth populations are prioritized within the Global Fund as key stakeholders. Prior to the selection process, only one young person served on the delegations, and now four young people do, including Jaevion!

In May, Jaevion participated in the 23rd Global Fund Board meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss issues of governance, financing and the way forward. In June, Jaevion traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil to participate in the Global Fund’s 4th Partnership Forum to discuss and integrate inputs of various stakeholders including the private sector, civil society, health practitioners and government representatives, among others.

As an IYY journalist, Jaevion reported on the Forum and posted a blog,
“Working Together, Shaping Our Future: Global Fund 4th Partnership Forum.”

To read more about Jaevion, click here.

Tools You Can Use

Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child Marriage
By Population Reference Bureau

In the last decade, 58 million young women in developing countries—one in three—have been married before the age of 18, many against their will and in violation of international laws and conventions on women’s rights. This policy brief explores trends in child marriage and the benefits of delaying marriage. It examines promising approaches in developing countries to end child marriage and provides recommendations to advance policy and advocacy efforts. For more information, contact popref@prb.org.

School-based Survey on Risk and Resiliency Behaviours of 10-15 Year Olds
By MEASURE Evaluation

The survey instrument (included as an appendix to a larger report) was used for an in-school study in 2005 examining Jamaican youth age 10-15. It covers questions on risk and resiliency to determine factors that provide protection from teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and violence and obesity to inform programs targeted at the early adolescent period.

Protecting the Next Generation Data and Survey Instruments
By Guttmacher Institute

Data and survey instruments from the Protecting the Next Generation: Understanding HIV Risk among Youth study in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda project are now available to the public. This page contains details on timing, conditions of availability, and request procedures for the data sets and instruments.

Assessing the Quality of Youth Peer Education Programmes
By Family Health International/YouthNet and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

This tool guides program managers in assessing a peer education program using a series of checklists. Developed through YouthNet’s peer education research project and part of the Youth Peer Education Toolkit, these evidence-based checklists can be used to gather the most essential information for determining how a peer education project can best function and can be compared over time and across programs.

Read All About It

Brazil’s President suspends dissemination of sex education films intended to counter homophobia

President Roussef has suspended the distribution and production of sex education films for schools in Brazil, because her impression was that the gay and lesbian video scenes aimed to combat homophobia, did not offer an objective picture of homosexuality. A leading rights campaigner and congressman, Jean Wyllys, said the decision called into question President Rousseff’s commitment to human rights.” I voted for her in the last elections,” he said, “because I thought she would defend the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens.”

Read more: Brazil sex education material suspended by President

Mozambique continues to face challenges in addressing maternal and child health

In Mozambique, a country in southeastern Africa, the rates of maternal and infant mortality are among the highest in the world. A Mozambican woman has a 1 in 37 chance of dying during pregnancy or within a short time after a pregnancy has ended. One in 10 children won’t live past the first year. One in 7 dies before reaching the age of 5.
On average, women in Mozambique have five children. And they start having babies when they’re very young — as young as 10.
The women talk about an initiation ritual called okanone, soon after a girl has her first period. It’s seen as the end of her childhood. Men know that once a girl has had her okanone, even at age 10 or 11, she’s considered old enough to have sex and marry.

Read the original article: In Mozambique, Grim Prospects for Mother and Child from National Public Radio (NPR).
Read NPR’s series “Beginnings: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Beyond” on National Public Radio (NPR)

Eliminating medical fees for pregnant women and children shows results in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, one of the riskiest countries in the world for maternal and infant mortality, has eliminated medical fees for pregnant women and children. By waiving the requirement for payments — which sometimes amount to hundreds of dollars and clearly represent the main barrier to using health facilities — the government appears to have sharply cut into mortality rates for pregnant women and deaths from malaria for small children.

The results in Sierra Leone have been “nothing short of spectacular,” said Robert Yates, a senior health economist in Britain’s Department for International Development, which is paying for almost 40 percent of the $35 million program, with most of the rest coming from donors like the World Bank. Since waiving the fees, Sierra Leone has seen a 214 percent increase in the number of children under 5 getting care at health facilities, a 61 percent decrease in mortality rates in difficult pregnancy cases at health clinics, and an 85 percent drop in the malaria fatality rate for children treated in hospitals.

Read the original article: In Sierra Leone, New Hope for Children and Pregnant Women

My Voice Counts!

Join United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA’s) 7 Billion Actions Campaign

On Monday, July 11, World Population Day, UNFPA launched the 7 Billion Actions Campaign. As you may know, around October 31st of this year, the world’s population will reach 7 billion. The campaign is very purposefully not negative—so, it seeks to start a discussion about the world reaching 7 billion from a human rights and solidarity-type perspective. While the campaign provides some suggested generalized actions, you can also use these materials, the messaging, the videos, etc.. to support your own policy asks to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth.

The UNFPA campaign identifies 7 key issues:
1. Poverty and Inequality – Breaking the cycle
2. Women and Girls – Empowerment and Progress
3. Young People – Forging the Future
4. Reproductive Health and Rights – The Facts of Life
5. Environment – Healthy Planet, Healthy People
6. Ageing – An Unprecedented Challenge
7. Urbanization – Planning for Growth

Messaging and fact sheets for each issue area can be found here.

Posters for the campaign can be found here.

The campaign logo is here.

Check out UNFPA’s 7 Billion Actions video here.

Check out National Geographic’s 7 Billion viral video here.

Reminder! It’s still not too late to participate in the Red Hot + video contest, a project of Amplify and the Red Hot Organization.

The Red Hot + video contest is a chance for young filmmakers to explore our generation’s experiences with and attitudes about HIV and AIDS through short films, music videos, and public service announcements (PSAs).

This fall, four contest winners will be selected, two through public voting online and two by a panel of judges from the film and music industries and HIV/AIDS activist movement. Each winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize and a trip to New York City.*

There are two main guidelines:

  1. Your video must address HIV and/or AIDS, overtly or thematically
  2. Your video must incorporate at least one song from the approved list of Red Hot tracks. Note: Only Red Hot music may be used.

The deadline for submission is 11:59pm EST on October 31, 2011. Click here to read the official Red Hot + rules and eligibility guidelines. Ready to get started?

WATCH contest entries and official Red Hot music videos.
LISTEN to music that you can use in the contest.
LEARN about how HIV and AIDS have impacted our generation.

And when you’re ready to upload your short film, video, or PSA, submit your entry below!.

Have questions? Read more about Red Hot and the competition here: http://www.redhotand.us/

* for U.S. residents. Winners outside of the United States will receive an equivalent value as an additional cash prize.

Check out conferences coming up:

2011 International Conference on Family Planning, November 29-December 2, 2011 in Dakar, Senegal

The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Ministry of Health and Prevention in Senegal will co-host the second International Conference on Family Planning: Research and Best Practices from November 29-December 2, 2011 in Dakar, Senegal. The 2011 Conference is the second of its kind with the first held in 2009 in Kampala, Uganda. As in 2009, the 2011 Conference will bring together participants to share research, best practices, and progress on national strategies to deliver family planning services, with the ultimate goal of universal access to family planning.

Registration is open and the Conference welcomes participation from researchers, program managers, clinicians, parliamentarians, policy makers, jurists, and journalists. The Conference is co-sponsored by over 30 international organizations including USAID, UNFPA, WHO, World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Conference program will include an opening plenary, multiple concurrent oral sessions, special panel presentations, poster sessions, luncheon roundtables, and an exhibit area. Journalists will be able to work through a Conference media support center. Organizations can arrange side meetings and skill-building workshops pre- and post-Conference.

The Conference’s official languages are English and French.

For more information, click here: http://www.fpconference2011.org/

16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), December 4-8, 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The 16th ICASA, sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will host the five-day regional conference in Addis Ababa with the theme: “Own, Scale-up and Sustain.” The meeting will aim to:

  • Serve as an advocacy platform to mobilize African leaders, partners, and communities to increase ownership, commitment and support to the response to HIV/AIDS.
  • Provide a forum for exchange of knowledge, skills and consolidation of experiences and best practices in Africa and around the globe to scale up evidence-based response on HIV/AIDS/STIs, TB and Malaria to achieve the MDGs.
  • Link and hold political and national leaders, the scientific community, practitioners, communities, civil societies, the private sector and partners accountable for scaling-up and sustaining the HIV/AIDS response.
  • Create opportunities to define priorities and set policy and program agendas to enhance mobilization and effective utilization of resources.

For more information, click here: http://www.icasa2011addis.org/

Advocates’ blogosphere for sexual and reproductive health and rights

Amplify, a project of Advocates for Youth, is the youth activist website and community blog that is focused on changing society’s negative approach to sexual health and reproductive rights.

Amplify is an online community working together for a larger cause—the move that you, as young people, have to lead. 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!

Join the Amplify family! You can write your own blogs/vlogs and comment on others! Click here: www.amplifyyourvoice.org

Learn more about our campaigns in Ethiopia, Jamaica, Nigeria and soon a page on Nepal.

Be a fan of Amplify on Facebook

Find Amplify on Twitter

If you have any difficulties joining Amplify, just email mimi@advocatesforyouth.org.

You mean that I can submit an essay and get a free Advocates for Youth notebook?

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! If you are one of the FIRST 10 iYAN members to submit an essay that follows the guidelines below, you will WIN a blue Advocates for Youth notebook and pen (to write more essays, of course!). Here are the guidelines for writing an essay:

  • Keep your essay to no more than 500 words.
  • Use language that is simple and easy for non-native English speakers to read.
  • Write about sexual and reproductive issues that you care about and/or what you are doing to make a difference. Share your experiences working on sexual and reproductive health issues and policies—tell your story. What’s going on with access to contraception and family planning services for youth, abortion, gender disparities, maternal mortality, traditional harmful practices, HIV/AIDS, stigma and homophobia, etc.? What are the challenges facing young people in your country? What are the challenges for you as an activist? Why did you get involved in this movement to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people? What is working to improve programs and policies and young people’s sexual and reproductive health?

Also, please note that:

  • If you have a photo, would like us to include it with your essay, 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 essay, 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 submitted an essay, you can still send others for upcoming issues of the newsletter.
  • You will receive an email by the next iYAN edition as to whether or not you are one of the first 10 people to submit an essay.

If you have questions on how to submit your essay, please contact Mimi at mimi@advocatesforyouth.org. Do it soon!! You could be one of the first 10!

Coming Up

World Mental Health Day, October 10

World Mental Health Day is held annually on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The Day promotes more open discussion of mental illnesses and investments in prevention and treatment services.

Around the world, almost one million people die due to suicide every year, and it is the third leading cause of death among young people. The most important causes of disability due to health-related conditions worldwide include unipolar depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, bipolar depression and dementia. In low- and middle-income countries, these conditions represent a total of 19.1% of all disability related to health conditions.

Mental, neurological and behavioral disorders are common in all countries around the world, causing immense suffering and staggering economic and social costs. People with disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life, and higher death rates.

While working on youth sexual and reproductive health issues, it’s vital to recognize the importance of mental health and ensuring mechanisms to provide support and referrals to young people where needed.

Here’s A Tool You Can Use for Mental Health Day:

Mental health and development: targeting people with mental health conditions as a vulnerable group
By the World Health Organization

Published in 2010, this WHO report on mental health and development is a call to action to all development stakeholders – governments, civil society, multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, global partnerships, private foundations, academic and research institutions – to focus their attention on mental health.

The report presents compelling evidence that persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities are a vulnerable group but continue to be marginalized in terms of development aid and government attention. It makes the case for reaching out to this group through the design and implementation of appropriate policies and programs and through the inclusion of mental health interventions into broader poverty reduction and development strategies. The report also describes a number of key interventions that can provide a starting point for these efforts. By investing in persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities, development outcomes can be improved.

To learn more about mental health, click here:

  • More about mental health
  • More about World Mental Health Day
  • World Federation for Mental Health site
  • Go Ask Alice, a site focused on health issues, including mental health and reproductive and sexual health: www.goaskalice.columbia.edu 

And please don’t forget to spread the word about the iYAN.
Advocates for Youth has a form to sign-up for the iYAN on our website. Send this link to your friends so they can sign up too!

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