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June 2009 iYAN Newsletter

June 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?

Happy Birthday, iYAN!

In light of the 1-year anniversary, we would like to hear from YOU on how we can make our second year of iYAN even better than the first!

When we were in the early stages of developing the iYAN, we asked 36 young people from all over the world to tell us how the iYAN would be useful for their work. Through the feedback that they provided in our survey, we were able to produce a newsletter that empowers and informs members of the iYAN in order to take action on youth reproductive and sexual health rights! The first issue of the iYAN newsletter was launched a year ago and encompassed many of the ideas the survey participants raised.

Now that the iYAN is bigger and better than ever before-we are now 1,200 strong–it’s your turn to tell us what you think. All you have to do is fill out the survey below. If you’d like to refer to previous editions of the iYAN newsletter, clear here:

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!

1-year anniversary iYAN newsletter survey

For your reference, the existing format of the iYAN newsletter includes the following sections:
Sharing Our Passion Stories and opinion articles written by iYAN members.
My Voice Counts! Opportunities for iYAN members to sign a petition; apply for a grant or participation in an international or regional form or conference; or apply for a leadership position.
What’s Going On at Advocates? Publications and online resources created by Advocates and updates on Advocates programs, including opportunities to get involved.
Read All About It News highlighting emerging research in programs and policies on the national, regional, and international level.
Tools You Can Use Tools and resources developed by partners on a range of skills and issues, including advocacy, peer education, youth development, women’s empowerment, etc.
This Month: International days or months of action including ways for iYAN members to organize activities.
The survey includes questions about these different sections and asks readers to tell us about what they like, don’t like, and any new ideas about how to make it better. Please take the time to fill out our 1-Year Anniversary Survey NOW. Click here!

Annual iYAN Re-registration!

In the spirit of the 1-year anniversary, Advocates for Youth would like to catch up with you. I’m sure you’d agree that A LOT can happen in one year—whether you’ve changed your primary email address or even the country that you’re residing in—we want the most recent information about you!

All you have to do is, go to: www.advocatesforyouth.org/iYAN and fill out the information on the form.

If all of your information is the same, then don’t worry about it—you’re all set! There is something that you can do though–send the “Join iYAN!” link to a friend or even a listserv! Let’s build the youth activist movement we envision by spreading the word!

Have you Heard?

Advocates for Youth’s Website is New and Improved!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Advocates for Youth’s redesigned website at www.advocatesforyouth.org.

We have added some innovative new features that we’re excited to share for the first time:
An expanded Parents’ Sex Ed Center, providing a plethora of parenting tips, advice from experts, and publications to help parents talk to their kids about puberty, sexual health and relationships, among other topics.
Today’s News, a new homepage feature, updated daily to include recent news articles and breaking stories about adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Five new blogs, including Vision Matters (commentary on putting Rights.Respect.Responsibility.® into practice); The Birds and the Bees (on parenting); Political Chatter (the inside scoop from Advocates’ policy staff); In the Culture (media and culture commentary); and Recent Research (up-to-the minute analysis of recent research on adolescent reproductive and sexual health).
Youth Activist Profiles, showcasing the more than 100 youth activists who participate in Advocates’ core youth programs, including members of the International Youth Speak Out project.
Of course, all of this is in addition to the vast array of information and resources you have come to expect from Advocates for Youth online.

You can also review Advocates’ International Initiatives here and check out our list of publications on youth in low and middle income countries.

If you have any feedback about Advocates website, please tell us! Email mimi@advocatesforyouth.org with questions and/or comments.

Advocates Supports Release of Senegalese Men Criminalized for Sexual Orientation

This past January, the Senegalese courts sentenced nine men, who are members of a Senegalese AIDS awareness group, with eight years in prison for “acts against nature and the creation of an association of criminals.” Months later, the Senegalese court of appeals removed the conviction after an outrage from international gay rights groups. Advocates for Youth supports the action to of the Senegalese court of appeals to reverse such an unjust action that not only infringes on the rights of citizens to live without fear of criminalization due to sexual orientation or identity, but also fuels stigma and discrimination and hinders the delivery of comprehensive HIV prevention efforts and services for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (GLBTQ) community.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS said, “There is no place for homophobia. Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must be accessible to all people in Senegal who are in need—including men who have sex with men. This will only happen if the men convicted are released and steps taken to rebuild trust with affected communities.”

Brian Ackerman, Advocates’ International Policy Manager, said, “Advocates for Youth condemns the incarceration or persecution of anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While Advocates respects the sensitive and culturally specific nature of sexual and gender identity and expression, the case of the incarcerated Senegalese men was unacceptable. We’re pleased to see that the Senegalese court released the imprisoned men; however, criminalization due to sexual orientation or gender identity remains a problem. Over 80 countries still have state-sponsored laws that criminalize homosexuality. Therefore, advocates must push further to ensure that unjust action like this does not happen again.”

To read more about the case, click here:

Advocates Urges New Global AIDS Coordinator to Ensure Young People’s Rights

On April 27th, President Obama nominated Eric Goosby to serve as the new global AIDS coordinator and administrator of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Currently, Goosby serves as CEO and chief medical officer of the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation and as a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California-San Francisco. Goosby served as deputy director of the White House National AIDS Policy Office and director of the Health and Human Services (HHS) office of HIV/AIDS Policy, during the Clinton administration. In addition, Goosby has been applauded as a leader in the development and implementation of national treatment programs in China, Rwanda, South Africa and Ukraine.

Advocates for Youth congratulates Goosby on his appointment as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and urges him to support and include young people in the design and implementation of programs funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during his tenure.

Considering that the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS’ (UNAIDS) Report on the Epidemic 2008 estimates that 45% of new infections occur among young people aged 15-24, Advocates for Youth and partner organizations will urge Goosby to use his position of leadership to ensure that:
young people are active participants in the development of programs and provision of services aimed at the improvement of their health outcomes;
young people’s rights to evidence-based, comprehensive prevention education, voluntary counseling and testing services, reproductive health care services, and HIV treatment and care services are respected and protected;
young people are acknowledged as a population that is as diverse as any other segment of the population, but that share a common challenge of living with increased social, political, and economic responsibility without full respect for their rights.
Just Released: Advocates’ Fact Sheet on Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health in Botswana

Young people ages 10 to 24 comprise 700,000 or 38.9 percent of the 1.8 million people living in Botswana. This group of young people is the largest group ever to be entering adulthood in Botswana’s history. The population is currently declining and it is projected that in 2025, there will be six-hundred thousand young people ages 10 to 24.

The lack of comprehensive sexual health information, among other barriers to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV, has caused young people to face unintended pregnancy, abortion, and STI and HIV infection. In addition, alcohol abuse is a significant problem that places young people, particularly young women, at further risk. Youth-inclusive, science-based programs can provide youth with sexual health information, life skills, and services to meet their sexual and reproductive health needs.

To read more, check out the new fact sheet on Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health in Botswana here!

Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network Supports Government’s Proposed Referral System, but Recommends Steps to Expand Access to Contraceptives Even Further

Last month, the Ministry of Education made the decision to launch a referral mechanism that will point students to ‘child-friendly health services,’ where students can access contraceptives. Although this is a step in the direction towards prioritizing young people’s reproductive and sexual health needs, condom distribution will continue to be prohibited on campuses.

In response to the government’s initiative to provide a referral mechanism for students to access contraceptives, the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) wrote a letter that was published in the Gleaner, Jamaica’s national newspaper.

To read the Gleaner article, click here.

To read JYAN’s letter, click here. To read their response in the Gleaner, click here.

Sharing Our Passion

Here’s a Big Thank You to all of our iYAN Writers, From Advocates for Youth!

Over the course of this past year, members of the iYAN have volunteered their time, effort, and passion to contribute to the success of the monthly newsletter. They have shared personal experiences and stories to inform iYAN members of how reproductive and sexual health affects themselves and their peers in their country AND what they are doing about it to make positive change in their communities. Advocates for Youth would like to say THANK YOU for all of your hard work! We are excited to keep in touch with you in the future!

June 2008-May 2009 iYAN Writers
In alphabetical order by first name

Abbey Marr, United States
Alexandra Scott, United States
Andre Robb, Jamaica
Andrew Francis, Jamaica
Dwayne Brown, United States
Ephrem Berhanu, Ethiopia
Francess Chukwura, Nigeria
Fuad Mohammed, Ethiopia
John Ngugi, Kenya
Liora Ziv, United States
Nickie Imanguli, United States
Janet Ndabula, Nigeria
John Akoto Amoafo, Kenya
Mario B. Balibago, Philippines
Medua Akwe, Nigeria
Molly Luz, Costa Rica
Moses Imayi, Nigeria
Nekeisha Lewis, Nigeria
Numfor Alenwi, Cameroon
Nura Iro Ma’Aji, Nigeria
Pralhad Giri, Nepal
Robert Akoto Amoafo, Ghana
Rochelle Campbell, Jamaica
Scott LaCrosse, United States
Taiwo Kikelomo Adetutu, Nigeria
Theodore Williams, Jamaica
Tope Fashola, Nigeria
Wubit Negusse, Ethiopia
Zekarias Menberu, Ethiopia
Zemen Retta, United States

Thank you for those that have already submitted articles! We will feature your articles in the next upcoming year!

Between Women and HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
By Nura

This issue of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria has remained the most pressing issue of concern over the years, and has attracted the attention of non-governmental organizations domestically and internationally. This is due to the fact that various Nigerian governments have not paid adequate attention toward reversing the epidemic. Historically, studies have shown that the first two HIV cases in Nigeria were identified in 1985 and were reported at an international AIDS conference in 1986. From then, no effort was made by government to assess the HIV situation in the country until in 1991 when the Federal Ministry of Health made its first attempt to assess the situation. The result showed that the national prevalence of HIV was 1.8 percent, and subsequent surveillance report revealed that during the 1990s, the HIV prevalence rose from 3.8 percent in 1993 to 4.5 percent in 1998, and is currently at 4.4 percent.1

However, hope was restored in 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo established the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), and in 2001, he set up a HIV Emergency Plan (HEAP). Despite these steps, in 2006, it was estimated that just 10 percent of infected women and men were receiving antiretroviral therapy and only seven percent of pregnant women were receiving treatment to reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. In 2005, studies showed that 220,000 children were living with HIV, most of whom became infected from their mothers. Another study also showed that 80 percent of HIV infections in Nigeria are transmitted through heterosexual sex and blood transfusions account for up to 10 percent of new HIV infections. Moreover, women are particularly affected by the epidemic in Nigeria. In 2006 for example, UNAIDS estimated that women accounted for 6.15 percent of adults aged 15 and above living with HIV. In my opinion, these statistics should be attributed to the poor health care system we have in Nigeria, which is also characterized by corruption and mismanagement. This is because large parts if the country lack even basic health care provision, making it difficult to establish adequate HIV testing services.

Finally, I think if the dream of the present administration is to make Nigeria one of the twentieth most industrialized economies of the world by the year 2020, the problems hindering the health care system in Nigeria must be dealt with in their entirety. Since women, particularly, suffer most, they should be participating at the forefront of the decision making process so as to find the best solutions for Nigeria.

1”HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.” Accessed from http://www.avert.org/aids-nigeria.htm on June 12, 2009.

Feel free to contact Nura!

It’s not too late: You can be an iYAN Writer too!
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 that you would like us to include with your article and you 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.

My Voice Counts!

Sign the 15andCounting Campaign Petition!

The 15andCounting campaign is a campaign to demand better access to sexual health services and education for everyone, regardless of your age, gender or where you live. It builds on the goals of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. (Learn more about the ICPD and other important international agreements)

The goal of the campaign is to make sure that governments promote, protect and fulfill their promise to provide better access to sexual and reproductive health services and information for all young people and to increase wellbeing and improve lives.

The objectives of the campaign are to:
raise awareness of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) goals and build support for the goals
generate a powerful and enduring voice of young people around the world and empower young people to access the sexual and reproductive health services and information that they want and need
advocate for governments to:
reveal their progress against their ICPD commitments
recognize the right of all young people to make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health
build momentum for universal access to sexual and reproductive health services around the world
present a petition to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to put pressure on governments to deliver their ICPD commitments by 2015

To find out more about the 15andCounting Campaign, click here.

To sign the Count Me In: Sexual Rights for All Petition, click here NOW!

Are you a member of Amplify?
Amplify is Advocates for youth’s online community dedicated to sexual health, reproductive justice, and youth-led grassroots movement building. Amplify isn’t about making the world suddenly perfect – it’s about change, about standing up for what we believe in. It’s also a place to celebrate the incredible work we’re doing across the United States and around the world. And when it comes to sexual health, reproductive justice, and making sure that the rights of young people – all young people, everywhere – are respected by those in power…well, there’s an awful lot of work to do. Amplify is a place to come together for a larger cause – the movement that we, as young people, have to lead. No one else is going to do it for us. And that’s just fine, because we’ve already taken matters into our own hands.

So don’t waste a second—join Amplify NOW. Go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org to sign up and speak out!

Also, check out some recent blogs on Amplify:

Maternal Mortality Worldwide:A Young Person’s Issue
By Abbey, United States

A Beautiful World A Darkness Within
By Kike, Nigeria

Life As A Pregnant Teen
By Rochelle, Jamaica

You Can Blog too! Join Now!

Read All About It

A Strong Case for Expanding Access to Contraceptives in the Philippines
In the Philippines, more than half of the 3.4 million pregnancies in the country each year are unplanned, resulting in the high costs to women, their families, and the national health care system. In fact, according to ABS CBN news, expanding access to modern contraceptive methods and natural family planning in the Philippines would result in 800,000 fewer unplanned births, 500,000 fewer induced abortions, and 200,000 fewer miscarriages each year.

To read more, go to:

Contraception, a life-saving investment for the Philippines – ABS CBN News

U.N. AIDS Chief, Sidibé, Urges Africa to Manufacture ARVs
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, explains how the financial crisis should not impede the coverage of anti-retro-viral (ARV) drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The local production of generic drugs would improve coverage of PLWHA in Africa and support Africa’s integration in the global economy.

To read more, go to: Africa must manufacture own AIDS drugs: U.N.

China’s Sex Theme Park: Torn down before Opening
The sex theme park, Love Land, was set to open in Chongquing, China–offering workshops on sex techniques and safer sex practices. Local officials disapproved of the park, describing it as, “vulgar, ill-minded and misleading.” Due to open in October, the sex theme park has already been torn down.

To read this news article: China sex theme park demolished
Cuban Activists Dance Conga against Homophobia
On May 16th, Cuban activists celebrated the International Day against Homophobia on the streets of Havana, as they danced to the beats of drums and dressed as costumed-stilt walkers. Aside from the festivities, guest appearances included the daughter of President Raul Castro and educational panels and presentations on gay rights and sexual diversity.

To read more, click here: Cuban gays dance conga against homophobia
To learn more about the International Day against Homophobia, go to:
or to read about actions that took place: http://idahomophobia.org/wp/

Criminalization of HIV Could Do More Harm Than Good for Women in Uganda
After almost 30 years of responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda, the Government is currently seeking to complement its existing HIV/AIDS policy framework with a legal response amid serious concerns about the ongoing rapid spread of HIV.

However, applying criminal law to HIV exposure or transmission reinforces the stereotype that people living with HIV are immoral and is unlikely to prevent new infections or reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV. In fact, the criminalization of HIV may even harm women rather than help them by putting the blame on women for transmission that they may be unable to prevent due to poor PMTCT coverage, for example. The criminalization of HIV also does little to help the power inequities between men and women. Women often learn that they are HIV positive before their male partners because they are more likely to access health services and can thus be blamed for bringing the HIV virus into the relationship. To read more, go to:
Criminalising HIV/AIDS: Not a win-win situation

Condoms in Mozambican Prisons Could Help Curb HIV
“Distributing condoms in prisons could help curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among inmates and the wider community,” said Brian Tkachuk, regional adviser for HIV/AIDS in African prisons for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Mr. Tkachuk was speaking at a public health seminar in Maputo, Mozambique, AIM/AllAfrica.comreports. Mr. Tkachuk also said that condom distribution would protect not only inmates but also their families and communities after the inmates’ release.

To read more, go to:
Condom Distribution Could Help Curb HIV in Mozambican Prisons, UN Official Says

Tools You Can Use

Just Released: Fact Sheet on “The Global Fund to…what?”

Youth Coalition recently released a youth-friendly fact sheet to understand the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM). The fact sheet explains what the GFATM is, who gets money from the GFATM, how organizations can get money from the GFATM, and how young people can get involved with the GFATM.

To download Youth Coalition’s Global Fund fact sheet, click here: http://www.youthcoalition.org/site08/html/home_article.php?id_art=191&id_cat=1

To learn more about Youth Coalition, check out their website here: www.youthcoalition.org.

Advocates for Youth and Education as a Vaccine against AIDS Release New Policy Brief

Advocates for Youth has partnered with Nigeria’s Education as a Vaccine against AIDS (EVA) to support a youth leadership council, called the Youth Advocates Group (YAG). YAG’s mission is to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people in Nigeria by advocating for adequate implementation of existing adolescent sexual and reproductive health policies, with meaningful involvement of young people at the national, state, and local levels. EVA, in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, recently developed a policy brief that provides an overview of reproductive and sexual health issues affecting Nigeria’s youth; gaps in Nigeria’s response to addressing adolescent reproductive and sexual health; and recommendations to stakeholders on how to improve youth participation in governmental structures and increase access to youth-friendly education and services. The brief also describes the YAG’s advocacy campaign and how to get involved—whether you’re a government official, adult ally, or youth activist!

Read the entire policy brief “Where We Are! Where We Need to Be!” here!

Check out Nigeria’s campaign page on Amplify!

Coming Soon

World Population Day: July 19
In 1968, world leaders proclaimed that individuals have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children. Forty years later, modern contraception remains out of reach for hundreds of millions of women, men and young people.
World Population Day 2009 reaffirms the right of people to plan their families. It encourages activities, events and information that will help make this right real — especially for those who often have the hardest time getting the information and services they need to plan their families, such as marginalized populations and young people.

When people can plan their families, they can plan their lives. They can plan to beat poverty. They can plan on healthier mothers and children. They can plan to gain equality for women. So, plan to support World Population Day this year!

There are many ways to raise awareness of the rights of people to plan their families on World Population Day:
Consider inviting local celebrities to help spread the message.
Organize events to generate widespread attention about the importance of family planning.
Spark discussion with seminars, conferences and debates.
Host essay and poster contests.
Work with community groups to create plays and soap operas.
Plan to beat poverty. Plan to gain equality. Plan to beat maternal death.

Check out the World Population Day website at:

You can also read and use materials from UNFPA:

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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