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.
Sharing Our Passion
Jamaica’s First-Ever Walk for Tolerance
By Novia, Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network
On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) led a ‘Walk for Tolerance’ in Montego Bay. We, members of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) joined JASL and representatives from several other organizations, including the Jamaica Red Cross, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVCC), Jamaica Forum for All sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), Women for Women, Jamaica Association for Commercial Sex Workers, Interpride, and the Metropolitan Community Churches for the 4-hour bus ride from Kingston to Montego Bay.
The bus arrived in Montego Bay at around 12 pm and when we met the other bus and the Rollington Town Marching Band at the starting location, the true weight of the event began to sink in. We met members and supporters of other organizations who had been waiting in Montego Bay, preparing placards and banners to be worn in the march. As we all gathered in the already hot morning sun, a large rainbow flag was unfurled and volunteers were selected to hold it during the march.
At this time, we noticed our visitors. Several apparent foreigners wearing religious vestments took pictures with marchers and inspected the banners. We later learned that they were members of international groups Metropolitan Community Churches and Interpride. Within a few minutes of gathering at the park, the students from the Rollington Town Marching Band led us in singing the National Anthem. One of the guests prayed and the march began.
We started the march down Howard Cooke Boulevard at approximately 1 pm. The Rollington Town Marching Band led the way, with their members clad in purple and white, performing rousing renditions of traditional band songs, reggae tunes and choruses from popular R&B hits. The rest of the marchers, who by this time numbered around 100, followed behind carrying organization banners, placards and pamphlets.
The sight of the marchers sparked a variety of responses from passing motorists, ranging from indifference to support, to evident disdain. Nonetheless, we persisted marching enthusiastically in support of tolerance. At the end of the march, the group gathered for an informal press conference and discussion at Montego Bay’s Dump Up Beach. There, members of the participating groups introduced themselves and reiterated their support for tolerance for all those affected by HIV/AIDS in Jamaica.
The event concluded at around 3 pm, at which time, we filled the bus again to return to Kingston. On the way back, the mood in the bus was light, as those who were strangers hours before now had shared an important experience together. By the time we were nearing Kingston, it was time for the 5pm news, and reports about the march began to circulate.
In the following days, a change from the jovial and positive vibes at the event took place. Local and international media sources were calling the event ‘Jamaica’s first gay march’. There was intense criticism from many in the country, and the lead organization (JASL) struggled to return the focus to the issue of HIV and its impact on all vulnerable communities.
Overall, it is difficult to say whether or not the march fulfilled its aims or will have a lasting impact on Jamaican hearts and minds. However, at JYAN, we are proud to say that we support the call for tolerance and any initiative that will further assist those who are impacted by HIV/AIDS and suffer from unfair discrimination.
Featured Blogs on Amplify…
Young people from all over the world have joined Amplify, a youth activist website supported by Advocates for Youth, to express themselves, share their own voices and make global connections on sexual and reproductive health issues and rights. Every month, Advocates will feature blogs in the iYAN newsletter.
Here are some of the popular blogs that young people have posted in the past months. Join Amplify and you could be next!
Check out “Corrective Rape in South Africa” here.
Check out “Ethiopian Youth for Sex and the Environment” here.
Check out “Jamaica’s Response for the HIV epidemic: A message from the Minister of Health” here.
Check out “15th National AIDS Conference: We made our voice heard” here.
Check out “Court Says You Can’t Be Raped if You Wear Skinny Jeans” here.
Check out “An Interview for Mother’s Day: Part 1” here.
What’s New at Advocates for Youth?
Happy Birthday, iYAN!
In light of the 2-year anniversary of the iYAN, we would like to hear from YOU on how we can make our third year of iYAN even better than the first two!
When we were in the early stages of developing the concept of 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 (# iYAN members) 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, click here:
Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!
2-year anniversary iYAN survey
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 New at Advocates for Youth? 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.
Please take the time to fill out our 2-Year Anniversary Survey NOW. Click here!
Annual iYAN Re-registration!
In the spirit of the 2-year anniversary, Advocates for Youth would like to catch up with you. I’m sure you’d agree that A LOT can happen in a year or two—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!
Read All About It
Unsafe Abortions: A cause of maternal death in Africa
More than 90% of Africans live in countries where abortion is restricted, despite the fact that unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal death in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa’s crisis of maternal deaths has persisted for decades and now, more than half of the world’s maternal deaths are in this region. To read more, check out this article:
To read more, check out this article, “Africa’s deadly backroom abortions.”
Educators in Mexico Defend Sex Ed from Catholic Bishop’s Criticisms
Educators and officials defend Mexico’s public school sex education from criticism of Roman Catholic’s Bishop Felipe Ariz Mendi who said its teachings make celibacy vows more difficult for priests to keep. The Mexican Association for Sexual Health defended the need for government sex-ed programs and commented in reference to the Bishop’s remarks that “it borders pathetic.”
To read more, click here:
Mexico rejects church criticism of sex education
Sterilization: India’s Most Widely Used “Modern” Birth Control
India’s Health Minister recently announced that India needs to focus on halting population growth. India has been in support of sterilization for the past few decades and now, out of the women using “modern” birth control, 85% of them use sterilization. A 2009 study shows that not having much access to birth control that allows women to delay or space out their babies actually encourages women to have children quickly, close together, and then get sterilized.
To read more, click here: India’s Top Birth Control: Still Sterilization
Prisoners in Zambia need Condoms too
“Abstinence is the best, but I don’t know how long you can be faithful if you spend 10 years in prison,” said Dr. Chileshe, Director of the Zambia Prisons Service. He has been lobbying politicians to allow condoms into prison but says moral concerns are getting in the way. National AIDS Council documents clearly state that “legislation is urgently needed,” so that condoms can be distributed to prisoners.
To read more, click here: How to stop HIV spreading in Zambia’s prisons
Bill in the United States Aims to Strengthen and Expand Sexual and Reproductive Health Internationally
A bill in the United States, the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010, was recently introduced in the House of Representatives “to strengthen and expand the U.S. government’s current program on international family planning and reproductive health into a more comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program.” To read more, check out this article:
To read more, click here: Bill Introduced to Promote Sexual and Reproductive Health in Developing Nations
South Africa Scales Up Like Never Before
South Africa is now taking on the largest and fastest expansion of AIDS services ever attempted by any nation. To accomplish this, the government has trained the hundreds of nurses who are now prescribing the drugs and will train thousands more so that all 4,333 public clinics in the country can provide AIDS medicines. South Africa has estimated 5.7 million HIV-positive citizens, more than any other country.
To read more, check out this article: South Africa Redoubles Efforts Against AIDS
My Voice Counts!
What’s New from Vienna’s Youth Force?
Hi youth activistis!
Vienna’s International AIDS Conference is soon approaching and Vienna YouthForce is working hard to make sure that young people are ready! If you have applied to participate in the Pre-Conference, the three-day conference focused on youth and HIV/AIDS issues, you should receive confirmation soon if you haven’t already. Young people who submitted presenter applications will be notified by June 15.
In addition, Vienna’s most recent Youth Force newsletter edition no.5 is now available! Check out the newsletter in the following languages: English, Russian, German, and Spanish!
See you in Vienna soon!
For English, click here: http://www.aids2010.org/WebContent/File/Youthaids_Newsletter_English_5.pdf
For Russian, click here: http://www.aids2010.org/WebContent/File/Youthaids_Newsletter_Russian_5.pdf
For German, click here: http://www.aids2010.org/WebContent/File/Youthaids_Newsletter_German_5.pdf
For Spanish, click here: http://www.aids2010.org/WebContent/File/Youthaids_Newsletter_Spanish_5.pdf
Summer Blog-a-thons: Get Ready to Share Your Story!
Advocates will launch (not one but) TWO blog-a-thons this summer—one to commemorate World Population Day on July 11 and the other to commemorate International Youth Day on August 12.
Here is your time to make your voice heard!
From July 11-17, Amplify will host the FIRST World Population Day Blog-a-thon. You can celebrate World Population Day by posting a blog on Amplify during that week! Here are some questions to help you write. How accessible are sexual and reproductive health services for young people? What about family planning and different methods of contraception? How are young people participating in the planning, design, and implementation of such programs and services? How are young leaders in your community making progress towards your vision for human rights? In light of this year’s theme of “Everyone Counts,” how is data disaggregated in your country, particularly for young people?
From August 8-14, Amplify will host the FIRST International Youth Day Blog-a-thon. This blog-a-thon also coincides with the launching of the International Year of Youth. You can commemorate this day and the year by blogging on Amplify! Here are some questions to help you write. How are young people participating in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies affecting your community? How do socio-cultural issues play a role towards attitudes of young people and their value to society? How are young leaders actively working to improve the sexual and reproductive health of their peers?
Just go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org, join the community, and share your story! You can blog anytime you want…but keep these weeks in mind to blog your heart out! Make your voices heard by brining attention to sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting young people around the world.
For any questions, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit an essay and get a free Advocates for Youth notebook!
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! If you are one of the FIRST 10 iYAN members to submit an essay that follows the guidelines below, you will WIN a blue Advocates for Youth notebook and pen (to write more essays, of course!).
Here are the guidelines for writing an essay:
· Keep your essay to no more than 500 words.
· Use language that is simple and easy for non-native English speakers to read.
· Write about sexual and reproductive issues that you care about and/or what you are doing to make a difference. Share your experiences working on sexual and reproductive health issues and policies—tell your story. What’s going on with access to contraception and family planning services for youth, abortion, gender disparities, maternal mortality, traditional harmful practices, HIV/AIDS, stigma and homophobia, etc.? What are the challenges facing young people in your country? What are the challenges for you as an activist? Why did you get involved in this movement to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people? What is working to improve programs and policies and young people’s sexual and reproductive health?
Also, please note that:
· If you have a photo, would like us to include it with your essay, 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 essay, 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 submitted an essay, you can still send others for upcoming issues of the newsletter.
· You will receive an email by the next iYAN edition as to whether or not you are one of the first 10 people to submit an essay.
If you have questions on how to submit your essay, please contact Mimi at email@example.com. Do it soon!! You could be one of the first 10!
Tools You Can Use
Healthy, Happy and Hot: IPPF’s Guide for Young People Living with HIV
A guide written for young people living with HIV to help them understand their rights, and live healthy, happy and sexually fulfilling lives.
Young people living with HIV may feel that sex is just not an option, but this need not be the case.
This guide is designed to support young people living with HIV to increase sexual pleasure, improve health, and develop strong intimate relationships.
It explores how human rights and sexual well-being are related and suggests strategies to help them make decisions about dating, relationships, sex and parenthood.
Healthy, Happy and Hot-Text only in English
Healthy, Happy and Hot in English
Healthy, Happy and Hot in French
Healthy, Happy and Hot in Spanish
Welcome to Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS’s (GYCA) new website!
The Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) is pleased to announce the launch of its redesigned website, *www.gyca.org*. The new site design is structured to make information and opportunities easily accessible to the international GYCA community, enabling members to take full advantage of GYCA’s tools and resources and connect to other young HIV and AIDS activists.
The site, which features the integration of web 2.0 tools including *Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr*, is designed to maximize interactivity for members. Other exciting updates include:
The ability to *spotlight key members *on the homepage, including E-Course participants, Small Grantees, and Regional and National Focal Points (RFPs/NFPs);
A *”Get Involved” page*, which describes 7 ways that young people can take action and become engaged GYCA members;
*Detailed programs pages*, which outline “How To’s” on ways to engage in GYCA’s E-course, Small Grants, and Focal Points programs; and
An *improved “About Us” section*, to identify points of contact for those interested in learning more about GYCA’s regional work. These dynamic features and tools showcase our ongoing commitment to youth leadership and activism, political advocacy, and information sharing.
Check out the new-and-improved site at www.gyca.org.
World Refugee Day, June 20
In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 20th as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Since then, World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees world-wide who are forced to flee their homes.
Among other obstacles, refugees constitute one of the most difficult populations to reach with health prevention and care services. In most cases, armed conflict leads to the formation of large groups of refugees. When conflict subjects civilian refugees to food shortage, displacement, and poverty, a “complex emergency” is often the result. The combination of these factors increases the risk to refugees of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. Typically, reproductive and sexual health risks are greater under crisis conditions, which coincide with limited access to reproductive and sexual health information and services. Moreover, urban refugees are often undocumented and therefore do not receive support from UNHCR, while internally displaced persons are often barred from their government’s HIV/AIDS programs. However, the degree to which refugees are vulnerable to STIs, including HIV, depends in part on the level of HIV prevalence in their country of origin and in their host country.
Globally, countries impacted by complex emergencies account for 27 percent of all deaths due to HIV.
In the conflict-affected area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the maternal mortality ratio is considerably higher than in the western part of the country (1,174 deaths per 100,000 live births versus 874 per 100,000 respectively).
In northern Uganda, the abortion rate is 70 per 1,000 women, compared to the national average of 54 per 1,000 women. This may be due in part to the region’s protracted conflict, which has disrupted health services and made women increasingly vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies.
In Timor-Leste, 9.7% of respondents reported experiencing sexual violence by non-intimate partners during 2002, but 22.7% reported having experienced such violence during the 1999-2001 conflict.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that 25-50% of maternal deaths in refugee settings are due to complications of unsafe abortion.
Here are some ways you can commemorate the day:
Invite a former refugee to speak at your school, church, and community center to share their experiences.
Volunteer at a local refugee resettlement agency to help newly arrived refugees.
Host a World Refugee Day “house party” where you might show the movie “Hotel Rwanda” or another movie that shows the plight of refugees, like “Beyond Borders”, “I am David”, or “Return to Afghanistan.”
Serve a dish typical in another country or prepare an international meal with friends (see recipe ideas or use your own).
Set up a World Refugee Day discussion at your home, place of worship, or community center.
Wear light blue (the international color of UN Aid workers) on World Refugee Day (June 20) and talk to friends about why you are wearing blue that day.
Invite 10 or more of your friends to subscribe to newsletters that address refugee issues, such as the UNHCR Insider Update.
Form a Refugee Care Club with friends and fellow students to raise awareness
For more ideas on what to do in your country, 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!