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December 2010 iYAN Newsletter

December iYAN

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

This Month’s Featured Blogs from Youth on Amplify

“Catholic Church Takes a Step in the Right Direction”
Since the 1960’s, the Catholic Churches official position has been that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception because it prevents new human beings from coming into existence, and therefore defies the will of God. However, this is beginning to change. Pope Benedict XVI (yes, the same guy who was criticized forinaction during the sex abuse scandal) took a historic stance this week when he said condom use might sometimes be ok when it is used to prevent the spread of HIV: Benedict said condoms were not “a real or moral solution” to the AIDS epidemic, adding, “that can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.” But he also said that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”
(NYT). To read the full blog, click here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/dandaman6007/2010/11/21/Catholic-Church-Takes-a-Step-in-the-Right-Direction-Condoms-Sometimes-OK

“79 Countries Agree: We don’t have to Protect LGBT People from Execution Anymore”
The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, which is responsible for various social, humanitarian, and core human rights issues, voted last week to remove sexual orientation from a UN resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission provides a summary of the decision:
The removed reference was originally contained in a non-exhaustive list in the resolution highlighting the many groups of people that are particularly targeted by killings — including persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons acting as human rights defenders (such as lawyers, journalists or demonstrators) as well as street children and members of indigenous communities. Mentioning sexual orientation as a basis on which people are targeted for killing highlights a situation in which particular vigilance is required in order for all people to be afforded equal protection.

What can we say? At a time when LGBT people are being publicly targeted for harassment and death by hanging, the United Nations goes out of its way to “un-protect” these people. Ethnic and religious minorities should be protected, but not those threatened because of their sexual orientation? Given that sexual orientation was expressly included in the 2008 version of this resolution, we should all be asking the UN: What changed in the last three years. To read the full blog, click here:

Through the Eyes of a Jamaican Youth

Jamaica is a small island blessed with a rich cultural heritage and some of the most talented people around the world. “Jamaica No Problem” is a slogan that is on many marketing ventures to promote our country as a tourist destination. But, is this the reality for many Jamaican youth?

We struggle with myriad of issues, including crime and violence, high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and an ailing economy which is often linked to a lifespan f borrowing. On any given day, in a lower income community, the activities are the same — young men on the street with seemingly very few constructive activities. Some of these men are the same ones who become criminal elements in society.

These men are the product of several generations of untapped talents that have been neglected and left to waste. The majority of them have no skills and either failed to meet the requirements for higher learning or stopped halfway in high schools. Many will argue that one is responsible for one’s own education, but I believe there are several factors that should be considered. With little or no education it is extremely difficult for these men to secure a job, provide for their family, and gain the respect of others. As a result they become alienated, often finding solace, comfort and belonging in informal groups that often mature into to criminal or corner gangs. To read more, click here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Theodore/2010/11/10/Through-the-eyes-of-a-Jamaican-Youth

World AIDS Day on Amplify

From December 1 through December 8, Advocates for Youth asked for all young people to join the annual World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon, where youth blogged and took action throughout the week on Amplify as a part of the global movement of young people fighting to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Young people shared their personal reflections by posting blogs about how HIV and AIDS have affected them, their perspectives on the policies and issues that affect the health of young people around the world, and uploaded videos exploring the experience of HIV and AIDS during the first 10 years of the new millennium. You can see the success of the Blog-a-thon by checking out all the posts featured at www.amplifyyourvoice.org/worldaidsday

Want to participate in the next blog-a-thon?

Mark your 2011 calendars for these week-long blog-a-thons:

International Women’s Day Blog-a-thon: March 6-12, 2011

World Population Day Blog-a-thon: July 3-9, 2011

International Youth Day Blog-a-thon: August 7-3, 2011

On World AIDS Day, young people from all over the world also took action by:
-Posting a message on PEPFAR’s Facebook page to let Ambassador Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, know that it’s time to prioritize comprehensive HIV prevention programming and integrated reproductive health and HIV services for youth globally, including young people living with HIV.

-You can still get involved. Post this message on PEPFAR’s wall:
“Almost a quarter of people living with HIV are under the age of 25. Despite recognition that youth are leaders of the prevention revolution, PEPFAR continues to deny young people comprehensive information and tools, including condoms and contraceptive services, to help prevent HIV transmission. On this World AIDS Day, I stand with millions of young people around the world in asking you to prioritize comprehensive HIV prevention programming and integrated services for youth!”

Why is it important that the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator hear from you?

  • Because it’s unacceptable that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) continues to deny young people life-saving information in the interest of promoting ideology over science and rights. PEPFAR must support and provide young people with the full range of comprehensive information and services necessary to make informed and healthy decisions.
  • Because while PEPFAR encourages integration of family planning and HIV services, implementing agencies cannot use PEPFAR funds to provide reproductive health services or purchase contraceptive commodities!
  • And because there is no specific mention of meeting the needs of young people living with HIV — how can US global HIV/AIDS policy fail to recognize their needs?

What’s New at Advocates for Youth?

Youth Journalists Speak Out at African Youth Development Forum

From November 1-3, the opening ceremony of the African Youth Development Forum was held at the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forum sessions were held at the Ghion Hotel and were organized by Talent Youth Association along with the Pan African Youth Union and African Union. The forum allowed 120 young people from all over Africa to travel to Addis and discuss developmental issues and how the African Union and young people, together, can work to advance young people’s well-being and development. These efforts will lead up to the annual African State Summit, to be held in July 2011.

The President of Ethiopia, Girma Woldegiorgis, opened the forum with supportive, positive words regarding youth leadership in Africa. Following the opening ceremony, issues ranging from peace and conflict to education and reproductive and sexual health were discussed in various panels throughout the three days.

Advocates’ Manager of the International Youth Speak Out Project, Mimi Melles, and Kike, a youth leader from Advocates’ partner organization Education as a Vaccine, based in Nigeria, presented on a panel focused on political advocacy and youth leadership. They shared insights on what it takes for young people to influence political leaders both at the national level in the US and Nigeria. Advocates sponsored three International Year of Youth journalists, Taonga from Zambia, Abongwa from Cameroon and Nana from Ghana to attend and report from the conference. To check out blogs from the Forum, click here:

This is an introductory blog on behalf of the team (from Mimi, Advocates) http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/AFY_Mimi/2010/11/1/Engaging-with-the-AU-on-Africa-Youth-Day

These are links to the journalists’ profiles which list all the blogs from the forum:

Abongwa from Cameroon: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/papavic

Taonga from Zambia: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Zee23

Nana from Ghana: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Moonlight

And Kike, our youth activist from Education as a Vaccine in Nigeria, also blogged throughout the Forum: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/kiki

Here are some of the blogs they posted:

“It breaks my heart” by Abongwa, Cameroon: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/papavic/2010/11/3/IT-BREAKS-MY-HEART

“I have all the answers (it’s in the policy!)” by Nana, Ghana:

“African Youth Day: The African Dream” by Taonga, Zambia:

“The Way Forward is You” by Kike, Nigeria:

If you are interested in being involved leading up to the Africa State Summit in July 2011, contact Mimi at mimi@advoatesforyouth.org.

Sex, Rights and Climate Change: Raising Youth Voices at the 2010 United Nations Conference on Climate Change

Increasingly, discussions about climate change are exploring the intersection of climate change mitigation and adaptation and reproductive justice. Advocates for Youth and a number of organizations have been working together to advance reproductive and environmental justice for youth at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, being held from November 30-December 10, 2010.

Three of Advocates’ International Year of Youth journalists attended the meeting to elevate young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights issues within the dialogue. They reported from the conference daily about if and how governments are addressing the intersection between climate change mitigation and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

You can follow their blogs here: www.amplifyyourvoice.org/climatechange

Previously, Advocates and partners participated at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, leading to the creation of a youth declaration that was distributed during and after the Conference, which took place December 7-19, 2009.

The declaration puts forward the importance of advancing youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in an era of climate change; what needs to be done; some fundamental beliefs in terms of needs and rights; and actions that governments should be taking.

Read the Declaration

Most recently, Advocates for Youth developed a fact sheet, “Sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and youth in the context of climate change” that synthesizes information about both movements while illustrating the connections between them.

To read the fact sheet, go to www.advocatesforyouth.org/climatechange

This past summer, Advocates conducted an e-consultation with youth activists from around the world working in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change/environmental sustainability. The goal of the consultation was to gather information from young people working in these fields about how the two movements connect, ongoing efforts to advance either/both movements, and recommendations for possible collective movement building via an internet-based advocacy campaign.

To read the e-consultation summary report, go to www.advocatesforyouth.org/econsultation

Do you have something to say? Participate on Amplify! You can comment on blogs and share your own ideas about these connections and/or thoughts on the climate change meeting! This is your space–own it! Join here!

Tools You Can Use

Placing Gender Issues and Human Rights at the Heart of Sexuality Education from Population Council
The It’s All One Curriculum is designed primarily for curriculum developers, schoolteachers, and community educators responsible for education in the areas of sexuality/sexual health (including AIDS) and civics or social studies. Users may draw on the guidelines and activities in this kit to meet their needs, for example:
to develop or modify comprehensive curricula (of any duration) appropriate for their setting;
to design more narrowly focused teaching units (for example, on gender or sexual health); and
to use as a resource for single-topic lesson plans (for example, gender and the media, deciding about sex, protecting oneself and one’s partners from HIV, reflecting on masculinity).
A second audience for the It’s All One Curriculum kit includes health and education policymakers and school administrators. This kit can help these professionals ensure that their sexuality and HIV education initiatives respond to the learning needs of young people and to the policy statements of such bodies as the United Nations General Assembly (Millennium Development Goals), UNAIDS, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and other agencies. Moreover, the methods that are the heart of It’s All One Curriculum support higher-order thinking skills (such as research, reflection, and analysis) and foster students’ connectedness to school. As such, schools can use sex/HIV education to strengthen education overall, rather than to compete with other valuable academic goals.

Around the world, sexuality education takes place in a great variety of cultural and political contexts. It’s All One Curriculum: Guidelines and Activities is designed to present sensitive information appropriately in a wide range of such contexts in Africa, the Americas, the Arab world, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. The material includes many examples from various cultural settings. The next section (It’s All One Curriculum: Where and How to Use It) offers guidance to educators and policymakers on how to adapt these materials easily for their particular setting.

Developed in collaboration with an international expert working group, this resource is available in English at no cost at www.itsallone.org. Spanish and French translations will be posted online in December 2010.

Bangladesh and Nepal Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 5b shadow reports

By young people from the South Asia Regional Youth Network (SARYN)

With only five years remaining before the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/) comes to an end in 2015, it is clear that decisive and concerted action needs to be taken to ensure that MDG 5 is prioritized at all levels. In 2006, the MDGs incorporated the missing ICPD target, “5b – universal access to reproductive health” under MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health.

The country reports from Bangladesh and Nepal includes a youth shadow report, methodology, the policy context, research results and recommendations that aims to persuade governments of the urgent need to deliver youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health care and education to young people.

To review the report from Bangladesh, “Realizing MDG 5b in Bangladesh for young people,” click here:

To review the report from Nepal, “Realizing MDG 5b in Nepal for young people,” click here:


To review all the reports and reviews, click here: http://www.ippf.org/en/Resources/Reports-reviews/
If you have any more questions about how to get young people involved in research or want to know more about how SARO did the reports, please contact Kat (kwatson@ippf.org) or Arushi Singh (ASingh@ippfsar.org).

Read All About It

Gel to Prevent HIV/AIDS among Women is ‘Groundbreaking’

Developers of the gel to prevent HIV/AIDS among women, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the FDA informed them it would only require a limited amount of new information about the gel’s safety and efficacy before considering licensing the product. The gel, containing Gilead Sciences AIDS drug Tenofovir, reduced HIV infections in women by 39 percent over two and a half years in a trial in South Africa that was called “groundbreaking by the World Health Organization. The FDA would require more information on whether the gel works and is safe, but will help speed up the process, said Dr. Henry Gabelnick, executive director of CONRAD, one of the groups developing the gel.
To read more, click here:

The issue of family planning in the Philippines is revived
Since taking office at the end of June, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, the son of pro-democracy icons Benigno Aquino Jr. and Corazon Aquino, has put his weight behind the idea that the government has a responsibility to inform people of family planning choices. His support—as well as the publicity generated by Mr. Celdran—is injecting life into a stalled congressional bill whose authors say would help Filipinos plan their families.
Under the proposed legislation, government health authorities would be obliged to provide information about family planning methods, both artificial and natural. Government clinics would supply condoms and contraceptive pills and also give advice about other contraceptive methods. Abortion would remain illegal. Recently, a group of Philippine lawmakers told local reporters they will begin public hearings in two weeks on various versions of the bill.

To read more, click here:
Family-Planning Issue Revived in Philippines
Philippine contraceptive campaign seeks change

Malaysia Takes Leadership on Sex Education

Children as young as six will be given sex education in Malaysian primary schools beginning next year, an official said Sunday, as part of a drive to curb “baby-dumping, promiscuity and HIV.”

Deputy education minister Wee Ka Siong told AFP that pupils aged six to 11-years-old will study the new curriculum, which has been designed with the help of parents and civil society groups.

The plan follows Thursday’s announcement that sex education will be taught in secondary schools across the conservative Muslim-majority country also starting next year.

“We want to also give primary school students aged between six and eleven years, a better understanding of family values and how to protect yourself from high-risk behavior,” he said.

To read more, click here:
Malaysia plans sex education for six year olds

Chinese Man Living with HIV/AIDS appeals against discrimination

A Chinese man sued after he was rejected for a teaching job because of his HIV status. He goes by the alias Xiao Wu to protect his identity in a country with widespread HIV discrimination.

The case, notable because China’s legal system tends to avoid sensitive cases, was decided recently by a court in China’s eastern Anhui province. The decision left Xiao Wu determined to pursue his suit against the education and labor departments of Anqing city in Anhui, the China Daily said.

To read more, click here:
Report: Chinese man plans to appeal HIV discrimination case

My Voice Counts!

Conference Coming Up: The International Harm Reduction Association’s (IHRA) 22nd International Conference on

‘Building Capacity, Redressing Neglect’

The International Harm Reduction Association is hosting their annual harm reduction conference in Beirut, Lebanon from April 3-7, 2011.

Conference objectives include:

  • To exchange knowledge about new scientific research and evidence on psychoactive drug use including alcohol and tobacco, drug related harms and the effectiveness of harm reduction interventions.
  • To involve a broad range of participants from the Middle East and North Africa and beyond including government officials, frontline workers, HIV/AIDS and drug user advocates, people working in criminal justice, human rights advocates, law enforcement personnel, researchers and scientists.
  • To enhance advocacy in the Middle East and North Africa internationally for harm reduction
  • To enable the transfer of harm reduction knowledge and sharing of best practices
  • To raise awareness of human rights issues related to psychoactive drug use and harm reduction

For further information and details about the conference, please visit
the conference website.

Not on Amplify? Join Now!
Have you heard about Amplify but don’t know exactly what it is? One of Advocates for Youth’s main strategies is the use of new media technologies to empower young people to access information, share perspectives, connect to peers and services, and take action on issues that they care about.

Advocates communicates with its domestic and international networks of young people regularly via Amplify (www.amplifyyourvoice.org), a groundbreaking global Web site for young people working to improve youth sexual and reproductive and rights.

Through the site, young activists blog, share stories, reach out to policy makers, write op-eds, and organize on-the-ground activism. Sounds interesting—this could be you!

And wait, there’s more! Amplify allows registered users to automatically stream their activities on Amplify to Facebook, so that a young person writing a blog about international family planning can share it instantly with hundreds of his/her friends. Amplify has been instrumental during the past year in successfully launching a campaign in favor of increased international family planning funding and in building Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network of more than 800 young people and youth-led/serving organizations around the globe.

You probably already know, but POWER comes with you as leaders who want to make a difference.

So, if you’re not already on Amplify, JOIN!

If you know people who are interested, get THEM to JOIN!
Blogging is fun, easy, and you can AMPLIFY your OWN voice by giving it a try!

Go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org and make your voice heard!

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 Day of Social Justice, February 20

At its sixty-second session, in November 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the 20th of February as World Day of Social Justice. The day was observed for the FIRST TIME in 2009!

Member states were invited to devote this special day to the promotion of concrete national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995, and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly, entitled “World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world,” held in Geneva in 2000.

As illustrated through the commitments agreed upon at the World Summit, social development includes eradicating poverty, supporting full-employment, ensuring gender equality and equity, supporting social integration based on the enhancement of all human rights, and ensuring universal access to primary health care and education—all key elements to achieving Governments recognized that “a society for all” must promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources and be based on social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The observance of the day should contribute to further consolidating efforts of the international community to eradicate poverty, promote full employment and decent work, achieve gender equity, and ensure access to social well-being and justice for all.

How does World Day of Social Justice relate to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights?
Social factors like homophobia, racism, and sexism are inextricably linked to issues of poverty as well as limited access to employment, health care, and educational opportunities. Together these factors contribute to increased risk of STI’s, including HIV, unintended pregnancy, adolescent maternal mortality, and sexual violence among young people. This is why it’s important for young people to step up as leaders to advocate for social justice and young people’s rights to education, employment and health including, sexual and reproductive health.

To learn more about social justice as it relates to SRHR, check out our ‘social justice + human rights’ page on Amplify: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/issues/socialjusticehumanrights

Want to take action?
Write a blog about social justice and human rights.

For more information, check out the official campaign page:

Check out the Facebook page for the World Day of Social Justice:
Read an article from the UN News Centre on World Day of Social Justice here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24801&Cr=general&Cr1=assembly

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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