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December 2008 iYAN Newsletter

December iYAN Edition
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.
This Month
New Year’s Day!
Start the New Year Off Right! Here’s How…
Make One of Your New Year’s Resolutions a Commitment to Youth Activism!
Tell us what YOUR 2008 commitment will be to improve policies for young people on reproductive and sexual health!
YOU may be featured in our next edition!
Need a little help?
Here are some examples:
  • I commit to raising awareness on my campus about policies to improve access to contraception for young people in my country.
  • I commit to submitting an opinion editorial to my local or country newspaper on the importance of instituting Family Life Education in schools across my country.
  • I commit to setting up a meeting with a parliamentarian to discuss the importance of funding programs focused on young people’s sexual and reproductive health.
And don’t forget the iYAN—you can commit to strengthening our global network too!
  • I commit to recruiting 30 young people to join the International Youth Activist Network (iYAN), so they can receive the monthly newsletter, share their stories, and take action through iYAN action alerts!
  • I commit to writing an article for the iYAN by contacting Mimi at mimi@advocatesforyouth.org.
  • I commit to signing up for Advocates’ new, global youth activist web site, amplify, so I can post blogs about youth-led advocacy efforts in my country.
Fields: Name, Gender, Age, City/Town, Country, email
What’s Going On at Advocates?
Statement by Executive Director, James Wagoner, on the Election of Barack Obama
Advocates for Youth congratulates President-elect Barack Obama for his historic victory and we celebrate the role that young people played in this historic election.
Today marks the beginning of a new era for America. Senator Obama recognized the rights of young people to participate in America as true partners in the political process. In return, young people played a major strategic role in propelling the candidacy of Senator Obama forward during the primary and 18-to-29-year-olds gave him a two-to-one overwhelming margin.
Those of us who work at Advocates for Youth have always seen positive youth activism as an important component in resolving some of the many problems that our society faces. We were thrilled to see young people motivated and engaged in this national election. Never again will the votes and support of our nation’s youth be dismissed.
We look forward to working with an Obama Administration to undo many of the ideological policies implemented over the last eight years.
International Advocates Join Advocates for Youth in Washington, D.C.,
for the 2008 Youth Activist Training
From November 6 through 10, Advocates for Youth held the 2008 Youth Activist Training (YAT) for 50 young people from five states in the U.S. and 5 international youth from Ethiopia and Jamaica. The goal of the training was to build knowledge and skills among Advocates’ youth activists to advance sexual and reproductive rights domestically and internationally. Training sessions for the international youth included an introduction to Advocates’ philosophy, mission and programs; information exchange of key issues and national country policies regarding youth reproductive and sexual health; an overview of international policies including United Nations agreements and US foreign policy; skills-building on how to blog for Amplify, Advocates’ global youth activist web site; sharing the different country council goals as well as those of Advocates International Youth Leadership Council and activities of each for the coming year; skills-building in videography; lobbying US policy makers on international family planning; and team-building exercises to foster a sense of common purpose, support and cohesion among the different Council members.
By the end of the weekend, YAT participants lobbied Capitol Hill to improve U.S. foreign policies related to youth reproductive and sexual health. The advocates from Jamaica and Ethiopia met with House Representatives Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey and Senators Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd to share their stories and advocate for $1 billion for international family planning—a policy ask that multiple organizations are promoting in order to ensure adequate funding for family planning commodities and services around the world.
By the end of the training, the activists discussed the steps towards creating a global solidarity campaign to ensure that they are all coordinating their international advocacy efforts as a united movement.   Some of their advocacy activities will be coordinated online through Advocates’ soon-to-be-launched youth activist website, Amplify!
Advocates for Youth Mobilizes to Commemorates World AIDS Day
Members of the International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC), the International Youth Speak Out Project (iYSO), and Advocates’ staff commemorated the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day with an array of events including movie showings, teach-ins, and an international blog-a-thon on our new web site, Amplify.
  • During our week long World AIDS Day blog-a-thon, dozens of blogs were posted on Amplify. IYLC and iYSO members blogged and did outreach on campuses and communities in Washington, DC; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Abuja, Nigeria, and Kingston, Jamaica, to recruit students to share their thoughts by blogging.
  • We participated in the 100 Days to Fight AIDS Rally in Washington, DC, where 1,000 people living with HIV and allies gathered in support of President-elect Obama’s progressive promises to fight HIV and AIDS in the United States and abroad.
  • We took part in planning an interfaith observance titled “Deliver the Truth: Lead the Way to Effective HIV Prevention.” IYLC and iYSO members contributed reflections, which were read as part of the event.
  • At the University of Maryland, IYLC member Nickie held a showing of the film A Closer Walk for approximately 100 freshman students living in university residence halls. As a part of the event, she gave a presentation about HIV and AIDS, how young people are affected, and what actions they can take to make change. She also facilitated a discussion to debrief on the themes presented in the documentary. IYLC members Vanessa and Zemen, held similar film showings for campus groups at the University of Maryland, including Community Roots, the Ethiopia Student Association, and the Charles Drew Pre-Medical Society.
  • Vanessa hosted an HIV testing event where 175 students were tested and 475 condoms were distributed. She also worked with all of the resident assistants on her campus to ensure condoms were available in student dorms starting December 1.
  • IYLC member Abbey, working with the George Washington University World AIDS Day Coalition, comprised of various progressive student organizations, helped plan a week of events to commemorate World AIDS Day including a panel, a fair trade coffee house, and a benefit concert.
  • At Georgetown University (GU), IYLC member Alex, in collaboration with the GU AIDS Coalition planned UnityLIVE a campus-wide benefit concert that sought to open a public dialogue on the global impact of HIV and AIDS through uniting various student, cultural and performance groups on this issue. Proceeds of the benefit concert went to the Whitman Walker Clinic, a public clinic in Washington, DC.
  • In addition to these events, all seven IYLC members submitted opinion editorials to their campus newspapers, which were published. In addition, some members wrote blogs for RH Reality Check. Scott, wrote about being both a person of faith and an advocate for evidence-based HIV prevention; Nickie and Abbey both shared their thoughts on this years’ World AIDS Day theme of leadership; and Brian, a former IYLC member and Advocates’ International Policy Manger, shared a vision of HIV/AIDS in the year 2031. Links to their blogs are provided below:
Nickie’s blog:
Abbey’s blog:
Scott’s blog:
Brian’s blog:
Congratulations to the IYLC and other activists for their amazing work around World AIDS Day!
Read All About It
Iraqi Refugee Rape Victims Lack Access to Care in Jordan
Displaced Iraqi women are “more vulnerable to rape” and lack access to medical care due to their undocumented status in Jordan.
To read the full article, go to: Help scarce for refugee rape victims in Jordan, International Herald
HIV May Spread in Vietnam
The Ministry of Health just announced that over 132,000 people are infected with HIV in Vietnam and nearly 40,000 people have died of the disease so far.
To read more about the emerging issues with HIV in Vietnam, go to:
Minister of Health Resigns Over AIDS Scandal
Soledad Barria recently resigned from her position as Chile’s Minister of Health, due to the government’s failure to notify people who had tested positive for HIV.
To learn more, go to: Chile’s health minister quits over AIDS scandal, Associated Press
Lack of Knowledge on HIV Worsens Stigma for People Living with HIV/AIDS in China
According to a survey in China, two-thirds of 6,000 people claimed they would be unwilling to live with an infected person and a fifth said they would be unwilling to care for an infected relative. UNAIDS reports that nearly ten percent surveyed thought that HIV could be passed by working in a room with an infected person. The high levels of stigma and discrimination of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in China prevent many people from seeking help.
To read more about China and HIV/AIDS, go to: China AIDS patients dying because of “tragic stigma”, Reuters
Swaziland Expands Circumcision Program as a Component of HIV Prevention
Ever since the United Nations stated last year that circumcision can cut the risk of HIV among men by as much as 60%, men in Swaziland have been opting for the 30-minute circumcision operation. A nurse emphasized that despite the efforts to circumcise men, it’s essential to “Use a condom always. Don’t compromise.”
To read more about promotion of circumcision in Swaziland, go to: AIDS-hit Swaziland promotes circumcision, Associated Press
My Voice Counts!
Make Your Voice Heard: Be A Writer for the iYAN
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 all 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.
If you have questions or to submit your article, please contact Mimi at mimi@advocatesforyouth.org.
Register for the XIX World Congress of Sexual Health, Göteborg, Sweden – June 21-25, 2009
The conference theme, Sexual Health & Rights: A Global Challenge, reflects the 8 priorities of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) Declaration for the Millennium and echoes the urgent need for action to ensure sexual health and rights for all. The WAS Congress is held every two years, and brings together the outstanding clinicians, researchers, educators, activists and policy makers from around the globe to share knowledge on the diverse and often controversial issues of contemporary sexual health. A grant from the Swedish Government will enable participants to attend from many developing countries where the AIDS crisis severely impacts sexual health, and where basic sexual rights in areas such as education, healthcare and individual choice are largely unrecognized.
For more information, go to: http://www.sexo-goteborg-2009.com/

Help Plan the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS2010)!


Planning for the next International AIDS Conference, scheduled to take place in Vienna, Austria in 2010, is already in progress, and you can be a part of it!  Organizers are seeking nominations for the Programme committee.  The role of the committee member will be to participate in a committee of around fourteen people to plan and execute the programme (speakers, activities, and sessions) for AIDS2010. To apply, read the requirements carefully and fill out the application here:  [link] br /> Apply to be a Grantee of the Fund for Global Human Rights


The Fund for Global Human Rights has issued a new Request for Proposals for human rights organizations based in Burundi, Guinea, Pakistan and Uganda. The deadline to submit proposals is January
19, 2009. You can access the RFP in English and French on the Fund’s
website http://www.globalhumanrights.org/for-grantees. Grants are awarded through a competitive and transparent grants process. The Fund for Global Human Rights operates and accepts proposals in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Thai.


Organizations requesting funding must be working to defend, protect or promote human rights. This work could include mobilizing popular opinion through human rights skills-building and organizing; exposing abuse through documentation; addressing violations through direct action, policy/legal reform, legal aid, and litigation; networking and coalition building to further the effectiveness of human rights work; and capacity building. The Fund for Global Human Rights aims to provide funding for human rights organizations over the longer term.

The Fund strongly prefers all correspondence to be sent via email to info@globalhumanrights.org. If you are unable to email letters or proposals, you may send them via post or fax to:
Fund for Global Human Rights
1666 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Suite 410
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: 202-347-7487Telephone: 202-347-7488
For Spanish-speakers, dial: 202-347-7488, extension 210
For French-speakers, dial: 202-347-7488, extension 209 or 210
For Thai-speakers, dial: 202-347-7488, extension 208
For Arabic-speakers, please email info@globalhumanrights.org and we will email you with a response.
Tools You Can Use
Demanding Credibility and Sustaining Activism: A guide to sexuality-based advocacy
Global Rights’ LGBTI Initiative has recently released its guide Demanding Credibility and Sustaining Activism – A guide to sexuality-based advocacy. The guide provides information on sexuality-related issues and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersexual (LGBTI) issues. The guide features case studies from three countries: Columbia, India, and Nigeria. Global Rights highlights 5 core tools on advocacy for sexuality rights with important successes and challenges that drive the work that we do for LGBTI rights!
Hard copies of the guide are available upon request. The guide will be available later this year in Spanish and French.
Check out the guide here:
Improving the Education Response to HIV and AIDS: Lessons of partner efforts in coordination,harmonization, alignment, information
sharing and monitoring in Jamaica, Kenya, Thailand and Zambia
This report documents the findings of a study on the quality and effectiveness of collaboration among partners involved in the HIV and AIDS response in the education sector. The study was commissioned by the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education which brings together UNAIDS Cosponsors, bilateral agencies, private donors, and civil society organizations.
The case studies were conducted between March and May 2007 in Jamaica, Kenya, Thailand and Zambia. These countries were selected to represent geographical, epidemiological and socio-economic diversity and because significant efforts have been undertaken in support of education sector responses to HIV and AIDS in these settings.
The purpose of this study was to document how external partners coordinate and harmonize their efforts at the country level, to identify areas of overlap and significant gaps in country responses, and to formulate recommendations for improving synergy and alignment in all venues of operation at the country level.
To read the entire publication, go to: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001586/158683e.pdf
Sharing Our Passion
Rally & Awareness Workshop on
World Aids Day: Raising Awareness Among Young People
By Pralhad at Youth Forum, Nepal
HIV/AIDS threatens to destroy lives and ultimately undermine the fabric of human society, from a human security perspective. HIV/AIDS infection rates are increasing at an alarming rate for young people in Nepal. People living with HIV in Nepal have no access to family planning services.
Young people are increasingly vulnerable to HIV due to changing values and societal norms. Even girls that are knowledgeable on HIV and other STIs often do not have the means of protecting themselves due to their traditionally lower social status. Teenagers, although apparently highly aware of the HIV risk (based on behavioral surveys) do not always translate this awareness into safe sex practices.
Recently, forty two people died of HIV infection in Niyamal of Singaudi VDC, Dailekh district at western Nepal. Many of them included young people and women. We believe the spread of HIV-AIDS is not just a “health” issue, but an issue of economic and social development, of gender relations and of human rights.  To address the situation, Youth Forum Nepal is organizing two major programs on HIV prevention and working to commemorate Worlds AIDS Day in Kathmandu. Go Youth Forum!
Progress is Relative
By Nickie, Member of the International Youth Leadership Council
A few weeks later, I still have trouble believing that I was a part of one of the most important events in United States (U.S.) history. Regardless of your partisan affiliation, it is hard not to admit to the fact that this is one of the most significant elections for all young people—mainly because of our historic turnouts at the polls. And this just further shows the power our youth movement possesses. I am proud to say that we made our voices heard and we made our voices count and I highly doubt that we will ever be ignored. However, that does not mean that we can stop now. We need to use this opportunity and pursue our dreams, find our niche, be effective advocates—pick one! Regardless of how you voted in this election, even if you are like me, a citizen of another country, and were not able to vote—I call on you to realize the power you have and start your legacy—make your own history. Pick an issue, find something that pushes your buttons—be it reproductive rights and health justice, environment, energy, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) issues—anything—and do something!
Write letters, organize petitions, write articles, lobby, and educate your peers—anything! Because now everyone knows how much power we really have and now is as good a time as ever to make our voices heard and not be forgotten after the U.S. election buzz wears off. Because, let’s face it—by electing the first black president in US history we took a giant step forward, but at the same time with gay marriage and adoption bans passing in U.S. states Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and California we took four steps back. We now know that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and who is more qualified and able than powerful and inspirational young people of the world?
Let`s Unite for the African Youth Charter
By Zekarias, Member of the Ethiopian Youth Council for Higher Opportunities (ECHO) at Talent Youth Association
Meaza is a 15 year old teenager living in Addis Ababa. She is a prostitute working in one of the bars located around Arat Kilo. She lost both of her parents at the age of six. The only choice she and her elder brother had at that time was to live with one of their close relatives. She was raped by her brother when she was still a very little girl. In addition to that, she faced repeated sexual abuse from a number of her close relatives. In an attempt to resist the trauma of her past tragedy, she started smoking, drinking alcohol as well as taking drugs. Given the cost of her addictions she gradually entered into commercial sex work as a means of living.
This is one of the many real stories of young girls in our community. Just like Meaza, their lives are very gloomy. And they see no hope of a bright future and successful life as human beings. Many of the youth with a life similar to Meaza’s are victims of challenges in Ethiopia, where we do not have access to resources that can create a society of health families, and thus are more likely to live on the street.
These girls have no concrete information about human right protection and due to lack of
  • Support from their family.
  • Open discussion with their family and friends.
  • Knowledge and information about human rights conventions, laws by the society at large, and family in particular.
  • Important international, regional and country level charters, conventions and laws like the African Youth Charter, a document that declares young people’s rights gainful employment and protection from economic exploitation.
The latest information about the African Youth Charter (AYC) indicates that the legislatures of only 6 countries have ratified the document while the heads of 22 countries including Ethiopia have signed it. But in a continent where millions of youth like Meaza are suffering from various social problems, we young people should have no patience for a lengthy time to be taken for the ratification.  We believe that the charter is a very important document to redeem African youth from the problems that we witness every day. We believe that, silence in the face of all these tragedies of youth life is a crime against the future of the entire continent.
So, I myself devote all my time, energy and knowledge to promote the ratification and realization of the African Youth Charter and call on the stake holders and young people to create a network to recognize the benefits of the charter at the grassroots level.
Stand up and strive for the realization of African Youth Charter, you make things happen.”
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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