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January 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?

Members of Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council Advocates for Youth’s International Youth Leadership Council Begins a New Semester of Activism.This month Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) had its first meeting of 2014 during which they discussed upcoming priorities for their international sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy efforts. Key among them will be participation at two upcoming United Nations conferences in February and April, as part of Advocates’ NGO delegation, and a policy-maker education day taking place also in April. Every year, Advocates for Youth seeks to engage in United Nations meetings of relevance to global youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. Upcoming meetings include the Commission on the Status of Women, which will focus on the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, and the Commission on Population and Development, which will focus on the status of implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. Some of Advocates’ youth staff and IYLC members will constitute Advocates’ delegation this year. Stay tuned for report-backs and blog posts in our next issues of the newsletter! Meanwhile, IYLC members are also beginning preparations for their policy-maker education day, which will consist of an advocacy training and subsequent meetings with policy-makers on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. IYLC members will be recruiting fellow-students at Washington, DC area universities to attend the training and participate in the meetings. The focus of the meetings will be to inform US policy-makers about the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act and to seek sponsors for this bill. The Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act is important to young people because it draws special attention to serving the needs of youth by including a section specifically focused on the provision and promotion of sexual and reproductive health care for young people, including comprehensive sexuality education. The bill also recognizes the power of youth voices and calls for the incorporation of young people’s recommendations in program design and delivery.

My Voice Counts!

Join the Women Weave the Web Campaign. World Pulse is excited to announce the launch of WWW: Women Weave the Web campaign. Join World Pulse in supporting women who are using the Internet to transform the world. From the streets of Nairobi to the plazas of Buenos Aires, women are logging on and sparking change. Now is the time to break down the digital divide. Participate in the campaign to make sure that every woman can access the tools that will empower her. To learn more, go here. To submit your story, go here.

Participate in an E-Forum on Youth, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Policy Change, February 4, 9AM EST-February 6, 5PM EST .Hosted by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’s Interagency Youth Working Group and the Youth Health and Rights Coalition, this e-forum will focus on discussing how investments in sexual and reproductive health maximize young people’s potential for healthy and productive lives. For more information, please click here.

You Can Still Register to Attend the Caribbean Domestic Violence and Gender Equality Conference . March 26 to 28, 2014 in Montego Bay, Jamaica The second Caribbean Conference on Domestic Violence and Gender Equality is coming up. This year’s conference theme is “Breaking the Silence.” Delegates can look forward to an exciting opportunity to share work and engage in a dynamic environment of learning. This year’s focus is on the mental and social consequences of the global epidemic of gender inequality. Presenters will share findings from their research and others will provide expertise on treatment and care. The conference is organized by the Global Center for Behavioural Health in conjunction with the Jamaica Red Cross, the University of the West Indies, and other partners. For more information, please click here. Deadline Reminders for the Upcoming International AIDS Conference! July 20-25, Melbourne, Australia It’s not too early to start getting ready for the International AIDS Conference as deadlines are already coming and going. Here are some of the quick approaching deadlines you don’t want to miss! Due February 6, 2014

  • Abstract submissions. For more information, go here.
  • Workshop applications. For more information, go here.
  • Global Village and Youth Programme applications. For more information, go here.

Due February 13, 2014

  • Scholarship applications! For more information, go here.

For more information on the conference, go to: http://www.aids2014.org/and stay tuned for upcoming information about the YouthForce!

Read All About It!

Nigeria’s president signs law imposing up to 14 years’ jail for gay relationships. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on Monday that criminalizes same-sex relationships, defying western pressure over gay rights and provoking US criticism. The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May but Jonathan had delayed signing it into law. To read this article, go here.

Thai teen pregnancy on the rise as sex education misses the young. Days away from giving birth and living apart from her family, 16-year-old Ying is one of a growing number of Thai teenagers to fall pregnant every year in a country where sex education is focused on the married. Despite its anything-goes image, Thailand has a conservative streak, meaning that young people are told to abstain from intercourse altogether instead of being educated about using protection, a situation that experts say has driven soaring rates of teenage pregnancy. To read this article, go here.

India Launches its National Adolescent Health Strategy. India’s recent decision to launch a national adolescent health strategy aimed at addressing the critical health concerns of adolescents in the country, indicates the Government’s determination to put youth at the centre of its priorities. In a nation where a fifth of the population is aged 10-19, the broad benefits of healthier youth will have a profound impact on the future prospects of the whole population. To read this article, go here.

Women and girls at risk as South Sudan violence continues, warns CARE. As the armed conflict in South Sudan enters its second month, CARE calls for an end to the violence and continues to support life-saving work in dozens of the country’s clinics. CARE is especially concerned about the effect of the violence on women and girls. “Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, seeking refuge from gunfire and more,” says Aimee Ansari, country director for CARE South Sudan. “Among the displaced, women and girls are particularly at risk. When they lose the protection of their homes and families, they become very vulnerable.” To read the article, go here.

At Davos Forum, Ban seeks business help to fight gender inequality, climate change, hunger. In a whirlwind of events at the World Economic Forum in Davos today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the vital need for Governments, business and civil society to cooperate whether in erasing gender inequality and harnessing “girl power” to reach development goals, combating climate change, or eliminating hunger. He appealed to the investment instincts of his listeners at the annual Forum in the Swiss Alps and their desire for good returns to get behind efforts to release the potential of over half a billion adolescent girls in developing countries currently held back by poverty, discrimination and violence, calling them key to achieving a crucial raft of development goals. To read this article, go here.

Tools You Can Use

Interactive Map and Status Report on Adolescents and Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa By Population Reference Bureau, in collaboration with UNFPA This interactive map and report present available data for 20 specific indicators related to young people and population, education, employment, sexual and reproductive health, gender, and social protection issues. The available data for each indicator is ranked and sorted by color as follows: -Red is used to identify countries that need to take immediate action to address a particular indicator -Yellow is used to identify countries that are making progress in meeting targets for particular indicators, but many need additional investments to see further improvement -Green is used to distinguish countries that are making exceptional progress toward achieving targets or goals related to a particular indicator. The full report is available in English here. The map is available in English here. The map is available in French by clicking on French on the bottom of the English map.

Constitutional Database on Gender Website! By UN Women This handy website seeks to compile all the different provisions related to gender contained in constitutions in countries around the world, available in the original language, along with English translations. Ensuring that women’s rights are constitutionally entrenched is an important step towards holding governments accountable to eliminating gender-based discrimination and advancing women’s rights. This database provides a way to see what is already out there and to compare provisions between countries. A good way to search is to browse constitutions by region and then by country. To access the database, please click here.

Protecting the Girl Child By Equality Now This report illustrates the impact of child marriage as well as the legal position of child marriage and surrounding issues in eighteen countries. It looks not only at the legal provisions relating to age of marriage, but also the extent to which they have been enforced, if at all, and the law and practice of some related issues, including laws relating to bride price/dowry; statutory rape laws that are circumvented through marriage; availability of child protection services when escaping child marriage; legal requirements for registration of birth and/or marriage; and, schooling for girls. The report also provides recommendations and calls on governments to support a comprehensive response to end child marriage and ensure a girl is healthy, safe, educated and empowered and her rights are protected. To access the report, go here.

Discussion Paper: Transgender Health and Human Rights By UNDP This discussion paper aims to inform UNDP’s work on transgender health and human right to foster greater understanding on the health and human rights issues that impact trans people and consequently influence their social marginalization. The broad themes traversed by this paper include violence, discrimination, health, legal gender recognition and social inclusion from multiple geographic and social contexts. The paper draws on the experiences of trans people around the world and suggests practical actions that UN staff can take to be more inclusive of trans people, particularly in the areas of HIV, health, the rule of law and development. While developed by and for UNDP, the paper can also be useful to other groups, trans advocates, human rights defenders, and policymakers. To access the paper, go here.

Coming Up

Mark Your Calendar: February 6, 2014 is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is observed each year to raise awareness about this practice. Female genital cutting/mutilation of any type has been recognized as a harmful practice is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC or FGM) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Female genital cutting/mutilation is associated with a series of short and long-term risks to both physical, mental and the sexual health and well-being. Consequences of FGC/FGM can include:

  • severe bleeding
  • problems urinating
  • development of cysts
  • infections
  • infertility
  • complications during childbirth
  • increased risk of newborn death

Female genital cutting/mutilation is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15. In Africa, an estimated 92 million girls who are 10 years of age and above have undergone the practice. Female genital cutting/mutilation affects about 140 million girls and women worldwide, and more than 3 million girls are at risk of the practice every year. A little over a year ago in December of 2012, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution banning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (The United Nations General Assembly resolution banning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. This significant milestone towards the ending of harmful practices and violations that constitute serious threats to the health of women and girls was taken by the 194 UN Member States, who approved five General Assembly resolutions on advancing women’s rights, including one on intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations (FGM). You can access the resolution here. Also, this past year UNICEF published a report entitled “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change,” which provides the most comprehensive compilation of data on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting to date. The report illustrates what is known about the prevalence of the practice and the attitudes surrounding the practice. You can access the report here. To raise awareness about International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, you can:

  • Blog about it on amplifyyourvoice.org! How prevalent is female genital mutilation/cutting in your community? What do you think is needed to prevent female genital cutting/mutilation? If you have undergone female genital cutting/mutilation, can you share your story? What can young leaders do to prevent future generations of young women from being subjected to this practice? What can your government do in support of the recent UN resolution to intensify efforts to eliminate female genital cutting/mutilation?
  • Talk to your family and friends about this practice and engage in a dialogue about what it is, why it is practiced, and why it is harmful to girls and women.
  • Organize a community or school event to raise awareness about female genital cutting/mutilation and have a dialogue about the harmful consequences of this practice.
  • Meet with decision makers and community leaders to find out about existing policies related to female genital cutting/mutilation and share your recommendations.
  • Get informed! Learn more about female genital cutting/mutilation by checking out these additional resources below:

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