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February 2016 iYAN Newsletter

February 2016 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.

What’s Going on at Advocates for Youth?

Advocates’ partner organization MAAYGO improves services for LGBTQ+ youth.

Over the past year, Advocates for Youth has partnered with Men Against AIDS Youth Group (MAAYGO) to implementa program led and informed by youth to support HIV prevention in Kisumu, Kenya. MAAYGO is a membership organization that works with gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people (GMT) both infected and affected by HIV, ages 18-35.MAAYGO worked with Advocates for Youth to develop and administer a needs assessment to identify the sexual health concerns and needs of LGBTQ youth in Kisumu County; barriers to sexual health services and gaps in usage; and existing knowledge of sexual health services among LGBTQ youth.

Findings from the needs assessment showed that the majority of LGBTQ youth surveyed identified “access to health services without fear to stigma and discrimination” and access to “safer sex methods” as key concerns around sexual health. They identified “peers and friends” as the main source of information on safer sex and sexual health and identifiedsafetyat the health center as the most important factor impacting whether or not they would access services. In addition, most health care workers had not received training on how to serve the LGBTQ community nor did their clinics have related policies.

Advocates for Youth supported MAAGYO’s efforts to subsequently train a cadre of 30 LGBT youth leaders and 105 health care workers, informed by the assessment findings in order to support provision of culturally competent services for LGBTQ youth. MAAYGO also disseminated HIV prevention information and facilitated referrals to LGBTQ-friendly services through a local language radio station where youth had an opportunity to engage directly with MAAYGO staff via phone calls and SMS. Lastly, MAAYGO has been advocating for greater attention to the needs and rights of the transgender community and the importance of young women’s involvement and LGBT-youth’s inclusion in local decision making processes. Advocates also facilitated MAAYGO’s advocacy efforts globally, whereby members lobbied US decision makers in support of LGBT rights in the context of US foreign assistance. Advocates and MAAYGO continue to partner and look forward to strengthening and expanding this important work in the year ahead!

My Voice Counts!

Join Malala and Muzoon’s Campaign to Support Education in Syria. Ask the United States President Obama and other world Leaders to secure 1.4 billion dollars to support education in Syria (less than the cost of one World Cup stadium). All young people have a right to education in war and in peace. Don’t let today’s Syrian young people become a “lost generation.” Participate in this campaign, #notlost, and sign the petition here.

Participate in the Girl Power in Play: Call to Action. As noted by the organizers of this important call to action, “Girls and women have the right to participate in sport, physical activity, and recreation—a right that is clearly enshrined in several international charters and conventions. Yet sport has traditionally been regarded as a male domain, and discrimination against girls and women remains widespread. In some places access to sport is entirely prohibited. In many other contexts girls and women are actively discouraged from participating, and universally there are fewer structures, institutions, and facilities that enable girls’ and women’s participation.”

If you care about girls’ empowerment, their right to participate in sports and recreation, the need to counter gender stereotypes that stifle girls’ creativity, talent and power, then sign this call to action. The call includes asks to UN agencies and member states, governments, donors, the media, NGOs, researchers, and the private sector.

To access the Girl Power in Play Call to Action, go here.

Attention Women Activists and Groups Working in Rural Communities: Call for Nominations. WWSF Women’s World Summit Foundation, an international, non-profit, humanitarian NGO, is seeking nominations for the Prize (US$ 1,000 per laureate), which honors women and women’s groups around the world exhibiting exceptional creativity, courage and commitment for the improvement of the quality of life in rural communities.

The Prize aims to draw international attention to laureates’ contributions to sustainable development, food security and peace, thus generating recognition and support for their initiatives and projects. While rural women are vital in providing examples of sound practices in their communities, they still do not have full access to tools needed for development, such as education, credit, land rights and participation in decision making. By highlighting and awarding creative development leaders and their work, innovations and experiences enhancing the quality of rural life, WWSF participates in empowering rural women in their contribution to end rural poverty, improve gender equality, and advance women’s rights to peace and well-being.

Prize laureates are selected by an international jury composed of WWSF Board of Directors, are announced officially in October, and are celebrated in their countries on October 15th – International Day of Rural Women. WWSF has a commitment to award annually between 5-10 creative rural women and women’s groups around the world. The deadline is April 30, 2016.

For more information, go here.
To download the nomination form, go here.

Attend the Women Deliver Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark May 16-19, 2016. The Women Deliver 4th Global Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from 16–19 May 2016. The conference is a critical platform to engage participants to advocate to political leaders and influencers to support policy and resource recommendations emerging from the conference both during the event and upon their return. The focus of the conference will be on how to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health—in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights—gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment.

Registration is still open but deadlines are ongoing so please check the website at: http://wd2016.org/

For a one-pager on the conference in English, French or Spanish, go here: English | French | Spanish

Call for Papers for Trans*formations Conference, Lisbon, Portugal June 14-15, 2016. TRANS*FORMATIONS: Lives and Politics beyond the Gender Binary is an international conference organized in the framework of the ERC funded project TRANS Rights, Gender citizenship and sexual rights in Europe: Transgender lives from a transnational perspective (http://transrightseurope.com). For more information about the call for papers, go here.

Don’t Miss the International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa July 18-22, 2016.

The AIDS 2016 conference will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) from 18 to 22 July 2016. The conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.

The AIDS 2016 programme will present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. A variety of session types – from abstract-driven presentations to symposia, bridging and plenary sessions – will meet the needs of various participants. Other related activities, including the Global Village, satellite meetings, exhibitions and affiliated independent events, will contribute to an exceptional opportunity for professional development and networking.

Registration for the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) official pre-conference meetings is now open! This year, AIDS 2016 is taking a new approach to the traditional pre-conferences, offering a more formal programme to enhance the delegate experience.

For the first time, a selected group of independently organized pre-conference meetings will be held within the main conference venue over the weekend of 16 and 17 July, immediately preceding AIDS 2016. This year’s official pre-conferences represent a diversity of scientific, technical, and community interests and we are delighted to announce the official AIDS 2016 pre-conference programme line-up and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to register.

Tools You Can Use

Zika Situation Report
By the World Health Organization

This report provides a situation overview, epidemiological update, information on incidence of microcephaly and of Guillain-Barré syndrome, the current response, resource mobilization, and other sources of information.

To access the report, go here.

Zika Prevention & Community Education Guide
The Hesperian Foundation

These community guides on the Zika virus are easy to understand and heavily illustrated. They provide information about how the virus is spread, the signs, how it is different from dengue, chikungunya, or malaria, how to prevent mosquito bites and breeding, treatment, and when to see a health worker.

To access the guides in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, go here: English | Spanish | French | Portuguese

Adolescents’ Need for and Use of Abortion Services In Developing Countries
By the Guttmacher Institute

This fact sheet provides the latest information on the need and use of abortion services among adolescents in developing countries. The fact sheet includes information on abortion incidence among adolescents, services and provision, access to post-abortion care, barriers, and implications.

To access the fact sheet, go here.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern

According to this new report, at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries now live with female genital mutilation/cutting. The report shares that 70 million more victims than previously thought have undergone the practice.

To access the report, go here.

The High Impact Practices (HIPs) in Family Planning Website
By the Johns Hopkins University

This website, available in English, Spanish and French, provides information about High Impact Practices in family planning, including evidence-based practices, promising practices, and emergency practices. Check it out and use the state-of-the art evidence to build your programming.

Go here to access the website: English | French | Spanish

Girls Speak Out: a four-country survey of young women’s attitudes and recommendations for action
By Plan International and Ipsos Mori

In this four country study, a total of 4,218 interviews were conducted with girls aged fifteen to nineteen across Ecuador, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. This research with adolescent girls focused on key issues, including violence against girls and teenage pregnancy, which were identified by girls themselves. The study reveals a complex picture of progress made in ensuring girls’ opportunities and creating more positive attitudes towards girls’ education, counterbalanced with girls’ lack of control over their lives, fear of violence, and a continued inequality. Girl respondents call for more information, particularly in relation to teenage pregnancy and early marriage, greater support from their families and communities, and stronger violence prevention efforts in school and in the wider community.

To access the report, go here.

Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Preliminary Findings from Existing Data
By Quentin Wood, et al.

This research brief describes initial findings from a joint study being conducted by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank. Initial findings indicate that, in addition to the harmful effects on girls’ health, education, rights, and well-being, the economic impacts of child marriage are likely to be very significant. Cost estimates are mostly computed for welfare costs from population growth, earnings losses for women and girls, and education budget savings by governments.

To access the report, go here.

Transitioning to a Healthy Adulthood: Lessons Learned from Adolescent Girls Living with HIV in Urban Zambia
By the International Center for Research on Women

This brief highlights some of the challenges facing adolescent girls growing up with HIV in Zambia, where nearly six percent of girls aged 15-19 are living with HIV. Previous research has found that adolescents living with HIV in Zambia have difficulty adhering to their medication, disclosing their status to family and friends and coping with stigma. This report provides further information gleaned from interviews with adolescent girls living with HIV.

To access the brief, go here.

The Sustainable Development Goals and LGBT Inclusion
By Stonewall

This policy brief is designed for charities, governments and other organizations involved in international development. It highlights seven of the new Sustainable Development Goals, suggests practical actions and provides best-practice case studies of LGBT-inclusive development from around the world.

To access the brief, go here.

Most Impacted, Least Served: Ensuring the Meaningful Engagement of Transgender People in Global Fund Processes
By IRGT, a Global Network of Transgender Women and HIV

This new report, which has broad cultural, global and geographic representation, addresses how transgender women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and yet are often excluded from policy, program, and funding decisions at national, regional, and global levels.

To access this report, go here.

Coming up

Mark Your Calendar: International Women’s Day is March 8th!

March 8th marks International Women’s Day! This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” The theme reflects on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year in 1975 and the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

This year’s International Women’s Day comes at a critical moment for women and girls when the new Sustainable Development Goals are done but the hard work of implementation and monitoring still lies ahead. So raise your voices and mobilize on this International Women’s Day to celebrate women and girls and to demand action by governments and structures too, like schools, employers, health services, and more, in order to ensure accountability to the goals and targets that support of gender equality by taking concrete steps that advance women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights.

To raise awareness about International Women’s Day, you can:

  • Access information about International Women’s Day here.
  • Access information from UN Women regarding this year’s theme and celebrations here.
  • Check out these resources about the new SDG’s and girls and women:
    • Girls and the new SDG’s Infographics from Women Deliver, located here: English | French | Spanish
    • Onward to 2030: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals from the Guttmacher Institute, located here.
  • Blog about it International Women’s Day on amplifyyourvoice.org! What have you been doing to inspire change in women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights and to advance gender equality? What is the change that you would like to see now?
  • 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 the new Sustainable Development Goals and invite a speaker to talk about some of the challenges and successes facing young women in your community and how they relate to the new goals.
  • 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.
  • Tweet about International Women’s Day at #iwd2016 Tweets
  • 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 from Advocates for Youth:

The Reproductive and Sexual Health of Adolescent Girls in Low and Middle Income Countries: English

The Sexual and Reproductive Health of Young People in Low and Middle Income Countries: English

The Facts: Gender Inequality and Violence Against Women and Girls Around the World: English | Spanish

Youth and Unsafe Abortion: A Global Snapshot: English | French

Read All About It!

Zika outbreak: What you need to know. The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency.

The infection is suspected of leading to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Some areas have declared a state of emergency, doctors have described it as “a pandemic in progress” and some are even advising women in affected countries to delay getting pregnant.

But there is much we do not know in this emerging infection.

To read this article, go here.

WHO gives overview of Zika impact; Brazil cites 300 more microcephaly cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has started posting weekly situation updates on outbreaks of Zika virus and possible complications from the disease, and it also has issued an interim case definition for the illness.

Both reports were posted Feb 12, capping a busy week of new developments with the virus, including studies that strengthened the association between maternal Zika virus infection and microcephaly in babies.

To read this article, go here.

Replace female genital mutilation with new rites of passage, says UN chief. New, unharmful rites of passage should replace female genital mutilation, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday after new data showed there were more victims of the custom than previously estimated.

The call by the U.N. Secretary-General was heard by diplomats, campaigners and survivors gathered at the U.N. headquarters in New York to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, which fell on Saturday.

To read this article, go here.

Unicef Report Finds Female Genital Cutting to Be Common in Indonesia. Female genital cutting has always been seen as an ancient ritual practiced in Africa and to a lesser extent in the Middle East, but a new global assessment documents for the first time that it is widespread in one of the most populous countries in Asia: Indonesia, where almost half the women are estimated to have undergone it.

To read this article, go here.

Pakistan prevented from banning child marriages because it is ‘unIslamic’. Pakistani lawmakers had to withdraw a bill aimed at curbing the practice of child marriage after a prominent religious body declared the legislation un-Islamic.

The bill, which proposed raising the marriage age for females from 16 to 18, also called for harsher penalties for those who would arrange marriages involving children. Despite the laws in place, child marriages, particularly involving young female brides, are common in parts of the country. It’s estimated that some 20 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.

To read this article, go here.

Zimbabwe court bans child marriage after challenge by former child brides. Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court outlawed child marriage on Wednesday after two former child brides took the government to court in a ground-breaking case to challenge the practice that is rife in the southern African nation.

Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi asked for child marriage to be declared illegal and unconstitutional, saying it was a form of child abuse which trapped girls in lives of poverty and suffering.

To read this article, go here.

The Ebola Rape Epidemic No One’s Talking About. When the outbreak hit West Africa, fevers spiked – and so did rates of teenage pregnancy.

When the Ebola epidemic reached its peak in Liberia in September 2014, Tina Williams was 14 years old, five months pregnant, and feverish. She had been raped and abandoned by her boyfriend. Now she lay in bed shivering and praying that she was sick with malaria, not Ebola.

Williams and her baby girl later tested negative for Ebola, but they were Ebola survivors of a different kind. As the virus swept across West Africa infecting nearly 30,000 people, so did another contagion: outbreaks of rape, sexual assault, and violence against women and girls.

To read this article, go here.

Colombia passes tougher law to tackle high rates of acid attacks. Acid attack survivors in Colombia hope a new law that punishes perpetrators of the crime with up to 50 years in prison will act as a deterrent in a country with high rates of acid attacks.

Until now most Colombians convicted of acid attacks have received prison sentences of up to six years, and some criminals have been allowed to serve their sentences under house arrest.

To read this story, go here.

Combating HIV among Teens (Kenya). Keziah Juma is coming to terms with her shattered life at the shanty she shares with her family in Kenya’s sprawling Kibera slum where friends and relatives are gathered for her son’s funeral arrangements. While attending an antenatal clinic, Juma who is only 16 years discovered that she had been infected with HIV. “I went into shock and stopped going to the clinic, that is why they could not save my baby and I have been bed-ridden since giving birth two months ago,” she told IPS.

To read this article, go here.

From abortions to #condommania: Kenyan students get real about sex. Desperate female students used to knock on Catherine Tweni’s door almost every day, needing emergency treatment for self-administered abortions.

Tweni, a nurse at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), 35 km (22 miles) from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, often had to rush them to the operating theatre.

To read this article, go here.

Sierra Leone’s president urged to sign safe abortion bill. Women’s rights groups have joined UN and African human rights leaders in urging the president of Sierra Leone to support a bill that would change the law to allow women to terminate a pregnancy in any circumstances up to 12 weeks.

The safe abortion bill, which would also allow abortion in cases of incest, rape and foetal impairment up to 24 weeks, was passed unanimously by parliament in December. But the president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has refused to sign the bill into law, and sent it back to parliament after meeting faith leaders

To access this article, go here.

New Campaign Calls for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Africa, launched by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) through the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, in line with its Resolution on the Health and Reproductive Rights of Women in Africa, 2007 and with its commitment through a communique on accountability for women’s reproductive health taken in March 2015 in Nairobi; has launched a continental Campaign for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Africa. The ACHPR has done this in order to bring attention to unsafe abortion which poses a serious threat to women’s and girl’s rights to sexual and reproductive health.

To read the Commissioner’s statement, go here.

Confusion in Malawi as court orders gay arrests to continue. Malawi media is reporting that a court has overturned the government’s moratorium on the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality.

According to Nyasa Times, the High Court in Mzuzu on Monday “ordered the Malawi police service and the director of public prosecutions to continue arresting and prosecuting gays and lesbians who commit homosexual offences in Malawi.”

To read this article, go here.

India’s Supreme Court will reconsider law that criminalizes LGBTQ sexuality. India’s Supreme Court has decided to re-examine Section 377 of the Indian Constitution, a law it reinstated two years ago that criminalizes LGBTQ sexuality.

The law, which dates back to 1860, refers to oral and anal sex acts as “unnatural” and carries a potential punishment of up to life in prison. This includes sexual activity conducted in private by consenting adults.

To read this article, go here.

The Asian Development Bank launches campaign for youth involvement in SDGs. What can the youth do to make the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) a success? A fair bit, actually.

In terms of numbers alone, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) estimated that the youth, aged 15 to 24, comprised 16% of the region’s population in 2015 – almost a billion people.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Youth Initiative is planning to harness those numbers to make the SDGs, or Global Goals, a success. By launching the campaign to make 2016 the Year of the Youth for the Global Goals.

To read this article, go here.

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