Take Action

Join the movement of young people working to protect our health and lives

Action Center

Take action to help ensure young people's health and rights.


Donate now

Support youth activists working for reproductive and sexual health and rights.


Sign up

Get text and email updates


January 2009 iYAN Newsletter

January 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

Let’s Celebrate…

The World Day of Social Justice: February 20th

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 is to be 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.

Read an article from the UN News Centre on World Day of Social Justice here:

Now, it’s your turn to tell us how you’re working towards social justice in your community.

Please send iYAN a 250-500 word essay that responds to the following questions:

How do you advocate for reproductive and sexual health rights in your community? How does your work contribute towards achieving social justice?

Essays should be submitted to mimi@advocatesforyouth.org. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Mimi.

We’ll feature selected essays in the February Edition of the iYAN. We want to hear from you! Remember, everyone has a story to tell. The question is whether you would like to share it with the world. J

The deadline is January 22, 2009. Do not wait, do it now!

Read All About It

Mr. Michel Sidibe appointed UNAIDS Executive Director 

On December 1, 2008—World AIDS Day – United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Mr. Michel Sidibe as the next Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Sidibe has worked for both UNAIDS and UNICEF in New York and in countries in Africa for more than 20 years. Dr. Peter Piot, outgoing Executive Director said, “The leadership of UNAIDS is in very capable hands. UNAIDS has a vital role to play in sustaining the progress made in the global response on AIDS.”

To read the full article, click here:

Just Released: Obama’s Plan for AIDS!

There are an estimated 33 million people across the planet living with HIV/AIDS, including, the vast majority in low and middle income countries. Nearly 6,000 people die every day of AIDS. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden believe that we must do more to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as malaria and tuberculosis. They have released a plan for addressing HIV/AIDS.

The first section of the plan highlights Obama’s ideas for addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. The next section focuses on how Obama’s plan will address HIV/AIDS internationally. This section explains how Obama’s plan administration will work to continue and increase funding for the global fight against HIV/AIDS; reauthorize and revise the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); strengthen health care infrastructure; increase the US contribution to the Global Fund; increase access to affordable drugs; invest in clean water; close the education gap; achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); invest in comprehensive poverty reduction to fight all deadly diseases; and reduce the debt of all developing nations.

To read the fact sheet on Obama’s Plan, go here:

Papua, Indonesia Faces Worst AIDS Crisis in Asia
A rapid increase of HIV and AIDS cases has hit the population of Papua, the poorest region in Indonesia. In Papua, an estimated 2.4 out of every 100 people are infected with HIV, one of the highest outside Africa.
To read more, go to: Papua in the grip of Asia’s worst AIDS crisis
New Success Story: AIDS cases in Jamaica Drop by 30 Percent!
The Jamaican Ministry of Health is reporting that there was a 30 per cent decrease in the number of new AIDS cases in 2007 when compared with the previous year!
To read more, go to: 30 percent drop in AIDS cases for 2007 in Jamaica – Health ministry
In the Spotlight at ICASA: Men Who have Sex with Men (MSM)
For the first time, the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) allowed a representative of the community of men who have sex with men (MSM) to speak at the closing ceremony on December 7, 2008. ICASA organizers proved that they were ready to “Face the Facts,” the theme of this year’s ICASA, by presenting MSM as a vulnerable population in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.
To learn more, read:
Financial crisis, gays at centre of African AIDS conference
African taboos surrounding gays hamper access to HIV/AIDS programs, Agence France-Presse

My Voice Counts!

Submit a Proposal for the 26th International Population Conference from September 27 to October 2, 2009, in Marrakech, Morocco

The International Union for Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and the Moroccan National Organising Committee (NOC) will be hosting the International Population Conference and expect over 1500 participants to attend. IUSSP warmly invites all members of the population community to submit a paper/poster proposal and to plan on attending this important international event.

The Conference will open on Sunday, September 27th, 2009, and conclude on Friday, October 2nd, 2009. It will include over 180 regular scientific sessions, poster sessions, and training sessions, as well as plenary and debate sessions, side meetings and exhibitions.

Simultaneous translation in French and English will be provided for all plenary, debate, regular and training sessions. In addition, simultaneous translation in Arabic will be provided for all plenary and debate sessions and all sessions organized by the Moroccan NOC on population issues in the Arab world.

To find out more about the Conference, go here: http://www.iussp.org/marrakech2009/call.php

To submit a paper proposal, visit the Scientific Programme Website 

Apply for a Grant from the EMpower Foundation!
EMpower supports programs to improve the lives of marginalized youth through education, health, livelihoods or leadership development. The Foundation generally supports service-related activities and organizational capacity-building, rather than research or policy dialogue.
To find out how to submit a letter of inquiry to EMpower, click on this link:
EMpower will only consider letters of inquiry from organizations that meet ALL of the following criteria:
. They must work directly with young people (ages 10-24) to improve their health, education, leadership or livelihoods (see EMpower’s specific interests and criteria within each portfolio).
. They must be based in one of these emerging market countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal), Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam.
. They must have:
A proven track record (3+ years work and demonstrable results)
Clear sense of mission
Strong leadership and effective staff
Interest and willingness to measure results
Commitment to, knowledge of, and respect in the community served
Multiple existing sources of funding

EMpower does NOT support organizations that:
discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, physical disability or sexual orientation in policy or in practice
promote religious beliefs
whose annual budget exceeds US$1.5 million

EMpower does NOT support:
Individual applicants
Emergency or disaster relief
Lobbying or political campaigns
Land acquisition or construction of new buildings
Deficit reduction
Programs that address specific disabilities, chronic diseases or conditions

To find out more information, email: contactus@empowerweb.org

Applications to Volunteer with Young People We Care!

Young People We Care (YPWC) is a registered youth-led and youth-focused, non-profit organization that is headquartered in Ghana and has satellite offices in the UK, Canada and USA. YPWC is operated by young people (ages 15–30) and adult allies working on youth and development related issues worldwide. YPWC is passionate about sustainable development, the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, and the promotion of a culture of peace and universal human rights for all. Visit YPWC at: www.ypwc.org

To review the application, read here:

Join a Human Rights Program with Global Youth Connect!

Global Youth Connect (GYC) would like you to spread the word to your networks about their 2009 summer international human rights training programs for young leaders, ages 18-30. Please share with young leaders who may be interested in participating in one of GYC’s upcoming human rights summer programs on Bosnia or Rwanda.

Brief information on each program can be found below and more detailed application information is available on GYC’s website at: www.globalyouthconnect.org/participate. The deadline to receive applications is January 30, 2009.

To learn about Global Youth Connect, an international human rights organization that builds and supports youth actively promoting and protecting human rights, visit their website: www.globalyouthconnect.org.

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 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.

What’s Going on At Advocates?

Jamaica’s National Youth Leadership Council Launches Advocacy Plan with Advocates for Youth

The Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, selected eight passionate youth activists to join together as a council to advocate for the improvement of national policies related to adolescent reproductive and sexual health issues. On November 21-23 2008, the council members convened for a training organized by JYAN and Advocates to discuss social justice and movement building; learn about reproductive and sexual health issues in Jamaica and globally; review national policies and international agreements related to these issues; train on community organizing, advocacy, media, and messaging; and, create a plan of action. The council will implement activities to mobilize youth to address priority reproductive and sexual health issues with different stakeholders, including parliamentarians, media, schools, parents and youth.

During the training, Mimi Melles from Advocates for Youth, Andrew Francis, Sasha Smalls, and Romel Gordon from JYAN; and the STI Youth Officer of the Ministry of Health, Kerell McKay, worked with the council members to formulate their objectives and activities for the upcoming year.

By the end of the training, the council agreed on two main objectives to drive their advocacy activities:

1) To institutionalize youth participation at all levels in order to influence policy and funding on sexual and reproductive health and rights for Jamaica’s youth by 2010; and

2) To advocate for greater integration of HIV/AIDS and family planning programmes in an effort to simultaneously reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies; the prevalence of adolescent maternal mortality, and STIs, including HIV and AIDS, among Jamaican youth by 2010.

Youth Advocates Learn How to Film Stories

In last month’s edition, we featured an article on how Advocates for Youth hosted the first annual Youth Activist Training where over 50 young people from five states in the United States and youth from Ethiopia and Jamaica came to enhance their skills in grassroots organizing, media, messaging, online organizing, and lobbying US policymakers to support comprehensive sex education and international family planning.

One part of the training that was particularly interesting was focused on capturing stories using film. During the training, youth from Ethiopia and Jamaica were trained on how to use a video camera and how to document stories that can portray the challenges that their communities are facing on reproductive and sexual health issues. Advocates provided the young people with a video camera to take home to share with their peers at their supporting organizations. Participants will film stories that will be featured on Advocates’ youth activist website, amplifyyourvoice.org, and used as an advocacy tool to educate U.S. Congress members on the reproductive and sexual health needs of young people in low and middle income countries. Charlie C. Stuart, the director of the documentary Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque, will be editing the films and Advocates’ staff will be assisting with their posting to the Amplify web site.

Youth Take Action in ICASA!

The International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA) was an amazing opportunity for youth to reclaim their leadership and participation in the discussion of reproductive and sexual health. Advocates for Youth actively participated in the Youth Program of ICASA. Advocates brought young people from Nigeria and Ethiopia to attend ICASA who joined other youth in taking action to ensure that young people’s voices were being heard during the conference.

The Youth Pre-Conference, organized by the ICASA YouthFront, was held from November 30-December 2, 2008, and the Main Conference was held from December 3-7, 2008. The YouthFront was spearheaded by the following organizations: Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN), African Young Positives (AYPNet), Réseau Africain Jeunesse Santé et Dévelopement au Burkina Faso (RAJS/BF), Regroupement des Jeunes pour la Justice Sociale (RJJS), and AISEC Senegal.

The YouthFront organized a series of activities, including the following: a Pre-Conference, a Candlelight Vigil on Goree Island, the Youth Pavilion, a Commitments Desk, an Advocacy Campaign, and a Closing Youth Ceremony.

To find out more about these activities, go here:
Youth Pre-Conference: From November 30-December 2, 2008, over 250 young people convened at Centre Aere de la BCEAO in Dakar, Senegal, for the Youth Pre-Conference—a 3-day workshop that prepared youth participants to advocate for youth priorities at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). By the end of the Pre-Conference, the participants agreed on a Youth Communique that any young person in Africa can use as a tool to advocate for youth to be at the forefront of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The Communique was presented at the Closing Ceremony of ICASA, by a 17-year old young woman from Senegal.

To review the Communique in English or French click the following links:

<http://files.tiggroups.org/77531/COMMUNIQUE YOUTHFRONT 2008_latest_French.doc.word>

<http://files.tiggroups.org/77533/ICASA YOUTHFRONT COMMUNIQUE 2008.doc.word>

Candlelight Vigil on Goree Island: On the evening of World AIDS Day, participants of the Pre-Conference took a 20-minute ride on a ferry to Goree Island. A candlelight vigil was facilitated by the YouthFront to commemorate the lives of those that have fought long and hard to combat the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Historically, Goree Island is known as the “host of the slaves,” a symbol for the struggles of the Black diaspora. African youth stood united on World AIDS Day and proclaimed to the world, on Gorree Island, “Yes, we can. We can combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

Youth Pavilion: The Youth Pavilion was the centre of youth activities in ICASA. The pavilion was the host of events and sessions coordinated by youth and for youth and adult allies. Young people presented their projects throughout the day and networked to share ideas for the future.
Commitment Desk: As youth we realize that we have to hold our government officials, civil society, community members, and the media accountable. However, we also need to hold ourselves accountable in order to be effective leaders! Youth at ICASA participated in the Commitments Desk by writing a commitment that they would promise to do by the next ICASA (in 2011)! Youth who participated in the Commitments Desk signed a banner that was hung in the Youth Pavillion during the course of ICASA. The YouthFront will follow-up to monitor progress towards the fulfillment of the commitments made by participants at the conference.

Advocacy Campaign: The YouthFront developed campaign messages for youth prior to the conference and these messages were disseminated and presented at the Pre-Conference, the community rally, and at the Youth Pavilion.
The messages were—
Don’t Delay: Every day of inaction costs us over 6,000 lives.
Leadership: If not us who? If not now when? If not here where? If not you who? If not now when? If not Africa which?
Access: Comprehensive, youth-friendly health services, prevention, treatment, voluntary counseling and testing. Universal access NOW!
Youth Closing Ceremony: At ICASA 2008, the YouthFront took steps towards developing actions beyond the conference. The session, ““What’s next for young people after ICASA?” was moderated by Sydney Hushie, South Secretariat of Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), at the Youth Pavilion. This session created a space for young advocates and adult allies to engage in a dialogue with panel speakers on youth leadership beyond ICASA. The presenters were Dr. Akinyele Dairo, Senior Programme Advisor for the African Division of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); David Anna from Save the Children; and, Esther Eshiet, West Africa-Regional Focal Point of GYCA.
A young man from Mozambique asked, “What can young people do to improve their work?” Dr. Dairo’s response was that being successful starts with you. Youth consistently ask for opportunities to use their skills, but their skills are usually not developed enough. Youth need to train themselves and ensure that they are equipped to take on these leadership positions. Dr. Dairo encouraged youth to “Act now. Don’t wait for opportunities. You have to make it happen.” Dr. Dairo’s message was in tune with a banner hanging in the Youth Pavilion that featured one of the YouthFront advocacy messages: Leadership.

Check out two blogs from youth participants from Advocates for Youth at ICASA:

Who is Talking for Youth: World AIDS Day in Senegal!
By Wubit


Make it Rain: ICASA Conference
By Medua


Tools You Can Use

Just Released: Fact Sheets on ICPD!
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was first held in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. It was the largest conference ever to address the topic of population and development, with over 11,000 delegates representing government, media, and non-profit sectors1. At the conference in Cairo, 179 countries endorsed the Programme of Action (PoA) – a plan to create a new approach to population2 by 2015.
The PoA calls on the international community to steer away from population policies that look only at statistics, forcing policymakers to acknowledge the linkages between issues including poverty, human rights, the environment, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and education, and empowerment of women and girls.3 By guaranteeing the protection of sexual and reproductive rights on a global level, ICPD fostered dialogue and action on the social, economic and political barriers to reproductive health, including HIV and AIDS.
To learn more about how to advocate for the rights of young people using ICPD, click on the fact sheets (languages are indicated below):
English version:

French version:

Spanish version:
Portugese version:

A New Advocacy Toolkit: Leading Voices in Securing Reproductive Health Supplies
The advocacy toolkit and guide “Leading Voices in Securing Reproductive Health Supplies,” published by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, is a practical, evidence-based tool, designed to raise awareness and foster policy change for increased commitment to reproductive health supplies.
This valuable resource draws upon successful advocacy initiatives and lessons learned in contraceptive security. It provides an essential guide to advocacy communications and messaging, five global supply shortage scenarios (adaptable to your country’s own needs), and a set of tools, including policy briefs, PowerPoint presentations and advocacy planning guides.
To view the interactive guide and download the printable version of the advocacy toolkit, go to:

Sharing Our Passion

December 1st was World AIDS Day, a day for individuals from all parts of the world to come together in solidarity to bring attention to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Advocates for Youth commemorated the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day by having a Blog-a-thon on Amplify, a project of Advocates for Youth. Amplify is an online community dedicated to sexual health, reproductive justice, and youth-led grassroots movement building.

Advocates put out a call for youth activists to blog on Amplify from December 1-7, 2008, as a part of the global movement of young people fighting this pandemic. The Blog-a-thon was a huge success and we want YOU to check out some of the blogs that were featured on Amplify! Young people shared their personal reflections about how HIV and AIDS has affected them, their thoughts on the issues and policies affecting the health of nations and regions, and their experience working towards change in their communities.

If you haven’t joined Amplify, you should! Go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org to register, write blogs, interact with youth, and so much more!

Check out some blogs from the World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon below:

What is Our Responsibility? Youth Answer on World AIDS Day
By Fuad, Ethiopia

To read Fuad’s blog, click here:

World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon: Get Tested!

By Jaevion, Jamaica

To read Jaevion’s blog, click here:


World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon: Anticipating Change

By Zemen, United States

To read Zemen’s blog, click here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/addiszemen/2008/12/6/World-AIDS-Day-Blogathon-Anticipating-Change

World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon: Costa Rica

By Molly, Costa Rica

To read Molly’s blog, click here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Molly_Luz/2008/12/3/World-Aids-Day-Costa-Rica

World AIDS Day Blog-a-thon: Issues that Cannot Wait A Minute Longer
By Janet, Nigeria

To read Janet’s blog, click here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Jany/2008/12/7/Issues-that-Cannot-Wait-a-Minute-Longer

World AIDS Day Vlogging!

Note: Vlogging is a Video-blog!

By Scott, United States

To read Scott’s blog, click here:

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!

Sign up for Updates