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February 2014 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.

What’s Going on at Advocates for Youth?

Panelists Joe, Angeline, Blessed and AFY staff, Urooj, at the 2014 Creating Change Conference

Advocates for Youth Highlights the Work of LGBT Youth Activists from the Global South at the 2014 Creating Change Conference Creating Change is the largest United States annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBT movement. This year, Advocates worked with youth activists from Uganda, Jamaica, and the United States, to present on a panel entitled, “Youth Creating Change: Stories from the Global South.” The youth activists included Blessed, from the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights for Youth (SHARRY), based in Kampala, Uganda; Angeline from Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ), based in Kingston, Jamaica; and Joe from Advocate’s International Youth Leadership Council (iYLC), based in Washington, DC, United States. The panelists described struggles and successes in organizing around LGBT issues within their countries and shared personal stories about how to grow and sustain as leaders. Panelists discussed the role of religion and culture and how these can be often used to promote homophobia. For example, Blessed talked about the role of churches in Uganda and highlighted the significant role that US-based evangelical churches have played in promoting homophobia. Angeline talked about how religion can be used to justify harmful cultural values in Jamaica and Joe offered perspectives from the Lebanese context where both Muslim and Christian religious groups often come together as a unified force against LGBT rights. All panelists expressed hope and resolve for continuing the work in their countries and advancing LGBT rights locally and globally. The panel was well attended and the majority of participants were young people interested in building solidarity between domestic and international LGBT youth movements.

Anti-LGBT Law Signed in Uganda. Advocates for Youth was heartbroken to learn that the Ugandan President Museveni signed a deplorable anti-homosexuality bill into law on Monday. The Uganda we know from the dedicated and inspiring youth activists that we work with is a country building towards love, tolerance, and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons—not a country espousing hate and trumped-up science. This law is a direct contradiction to Uganda’s own commitment to protect the human rights of its people and goes further than just criminalizing homosexuality— it extends its insidiousness by imposing intolerable prison sentences. Yet, even with the threat of prison and violence, the work of youth activists on the ground in Uganda who are tirelessly working to address homophobia, transphobia and provide HIV/AIDS advocacy will not stop, and we will not stop supporting them. Read more…

My Voice Counts!

Stand up for LGBT Rights in Nigeria. Last month, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill into law that criminalizes same-sex relationships. The bill contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships,” and membership in gay rights groups. To take action now and urge the Nigerian government and global leaders and corporations to speak out against the bill, sign the petition here. Speak out on priorities for young people in the post-2015 development agenda by participating in the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth crowdsourcing initiative! In partnership with other UN entities, international NGOs, youth groups, and stakeholders, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth has just launched a crowdsourcing initiative on youth priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. The crowdsourcing is part of the Global Partnership for Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which was announced by the Secretary General earlier this year. The Global Partnership and crowdsourcing are meant to serve as vehicles for youth and youth organizations to discuss what they think should be reflected as priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. These will link to online and offline events, including the High-Level Event on The role of women, the young and civil society to the post-2015 Development Agenda convened by the President of the General Assembly in March, and the World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka in May. Key outcomes of the crowdsourcing will be discussed and consolidated at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in June. Both the partnership and crowdsourcing are initiatives of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in partnership with ITU, UNFPA, UNMC, the Major Group on Children and Youth, with the support of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s Sub-Working Group on Post-2015, and the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations. The crowdsourcing is available at crowdsourcing.itu.int and you can go here for more information. Attention Activists in China, Brazil, India, and Russia: Apply to be a Cargill Global Scholar. The Cargill Global Scholars Program is a distinctive scholarship opportunity that not only provides financial support, but offers leadership development opportunities through seminars, networking events, and a one-on-one mentoring program. These enrichment activities have been designed to help foster and enhance the Cargill Global Scholars’ leadership potential and critical thinking skills, and equip them with the tools necessary for becoming global leaders and decisions makers. Scholarships will be awarded to talented, high performing university students who demonstrate exemplary academic achievement and leadership potential and study in a field relevant to Cargill’s world of food, agriculture and risk management. Through this scholarship Cargill is helping to nourish and build a network of future leaders who can develop new innovations and positively contribute to their communities. This program embodies Cargill’s commitment to improving living standards and promoting vibrant and stable communities around the globe. The deadline for the various country programs is March 1st of 2014. For more information on eligibility requirements and participating universities, please visit here. For more information, please click here.

Read All About It!

Rwanda: Sex Education Made Compulsory As Govt Moves to Curb Teenage Pregnancies. The government has announced plans to make sex education compulsory in all schools access the country as part of efforts to address teenage pregnancies. Under the plan expected to start next academic year, secondary schools and higher learning institutions will have to teach teenagers about contraception, safer sex, relationships and critical thinking that will help them make informed decisions on matters of sexual relationships. To read this article, go here.

Philippines’ high court to rule on controversial contraception lawThe Philippines, no stranger to the culture wars over contraception and abortion, will soon learn whether a controversial new law that requires the government to subsidize birth control for the poor is constitutional.

The Filipino Supreme Court’s decision is expected in March, but could come earlier.

To read the article, go here.

News Analysis: Developing Asia still grapples with high maternal mortality rate. Ensuring women’s access to family planning education and services will slash high maternal mortality incidence and sustain the gains achieved in promoting maternal health in developing Asia, health experts said. Thein Thein Htay, deputy director general for public health in Myanmar, reported that from 1990 to 2008, Southeast Asian countries have made substantial reductions in maternal mortality. But Htay notes that results are uneven between countries. To read this article, go here.

Tertiary students have multiple sex partners — survey [Jamaica]. The National Family Planning Board (NFPB) has registered concern over data which showed that a number of students in tertiary institutions have resorted to having multiple sex partners in order to fund their education. According to the 2012 HIV/AIDS Knowledge Attitudes and Behaviour Survey, multiple partnerships, which have continued to rank among the leading risk factors in Jamaica, registered a two per cent increase overall between 2008 and 2012, with a significant increase among the 15 to 24 age group. To read this article, go here.

Tools You Can Use

The State of the World’s Children in Numbers: Every Child Counts – Revealing disparities, advancing children’s rights By UNICEF This report marks the thirtieth anniversary of the State of the World’s Children’s standardized, global statistical tables. It presents the latest data on children worldwide, including information on education, nutrition, health, HIV/AIDS, women and reproductive health, child protection, and demographics, among others. The report also provides a brief essay discussing the data and the potential to spur positive change for the world’s 2.2 billion children. To find out more about the report, go here. To access the report, go here.

Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systematic review In The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 12 February 2014 This article, which appears in the Lancet examines the worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence through a systematic review of over seven thousand studies. The findings indicate varying, and in some cases endemic, levels of non-partner sexual violence against women. The authors also present potential methods for reducing such violence. To read this article, go here.

Substantive Equality and Reproductive Rights: A Briefing Paper on Aligning Development Goals with Human Rights Obligations By the Center for Reproductive Rights Leading up to the new post-2015 development goals, states have an opportunity to address the root causes of gender inequality by ensuring that gender equality and reproductive rights are reflected in development programs. This briefing paper seeks to contribute concrete ideas to the global debate on how to integrate international human rights norms surrounding reproductive rights and gender equality into the development framework that emerges from the post-2015 process. To read the report, go here.

Expanded Criminalization of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective By Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) This report uses scientific, historical, anthropological and comparative social data from other sub-Saharan African states to debunk the theories behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by the Ugandan Parliament this past December. The report references Uganda’s international human rights treaty obligations; issues such as HIV prevention and coercive or forced sexual relations; historical and anthropological evidence on same sex relationships in Africa; homophobia and its relation to attitudes that date from the colonial period; among others. To read the report, go here.

Facilitating Data Use for Gender-Aware Health Programming: Guidance for Workshop Facilitators By Measure Evaluation This document provides guidance for designing and implementing a two-and-a-half-day workshop on gender analysis of routine health data to inform evidence-based decision making. Through lectures and group activities the workshop introduces and defines gender concepts, provides tips to interpret gender-disaggregated data, applies the Gender Analysis Framework tool to understand underlying causes of gender gaps, and facilitates gender integration planning into ongoing health services. To access the document, handouts and slides, go here.  




Coming Up


Mark Your Calendar: International Women’s Day is March 8th! March 8th marks International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Inspiring Change.” The theme focuses on encouraging advocacy to advance the rights of women around the world and calls for challenging the status quo and inspiring positive change. What better theme than this to mobilize for young women’s reproductive health and rights! March 8th provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the advancement of women around the world and improvements in young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Every time a girl gets to stay in school, it is a success. Every time a young woman is able to secure a contraceptive method of her choice free from discrimination or coercion, it is a success. Every time a young woman is able to assert herself to demand use of a condom, it is a success. Every time a young man is able to have one sexual partner without being chastised for not having more, it is a success. Every time a trans woman can be herself without fear of being attacked or killed, it is a success. Every time a family decides not to have their daughter undergo female genital mutilation or become a child bride, it is a success. These successes and many more that you have no doubt seen and helped realize all add up to a growing and powerful global movement towards gender equality and human rights for all. So raise your voices and mobilize on this International Women’s Day to celebrate women, speak out against the status quo, and make change for a better future for all! To raise awareness about International Women’s Day, you can:

  • Blog about it on amplifyyourvoice.org! What have you been doing to inspire change in women’s sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality? What is the change that you would like to see?
  • Talk to your family and friends about International Women’s Day and engage in a dialogue about what it is, why it is important, and how they can get involved.
  • Organize a community or school event to raise awareness about International Women’s Day and invite a speaker to talk about some of the challenges and successes facing young women in your community.
  • Meet with decision makers and community leaders to find out about existing policies related to young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality and share your recommendations.

Get informed! Learn more about young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights issues and gender equality by checking out these additional resources below:

  • The Sexual and Reproductive Health of Young People in Low and Middle Income Countries: English | French
  • The Facts: Gender Inequality and Violence Against Women and Girls Around the World: English | Spanish
  • Youth and Unsafe Abortion: A Global Snapshot: English | French
  • Youth and the Global HIV Pandemic: English
  • Young People Living with HIV around the World: English | French
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Youth in the Context of Climate Change: English | Spanish

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