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May 2014 iYAN Newsletter

March 2014

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 for Youth’s Partner Organization Releases Tool Kit for Muslim Youth. This month HEART Women and Girls, one Advocates for Youth’s Muslim Youth Project partner organizations, published their first toolkit designed to foster dialogue about sexual and reproductive health, entitled “Sex Education for Muslim Youth: Starting the Conversation.” Heart Women and Girls is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote knowledge of reproductive health and mental well-being for women and girls in faith-based communities in the United States. Based on three years of work in the field, this toolkit raises awareness about why it is important to start speaking with youth about sexual and reproductive health and offers some tips and strategies on how to begin those conversations in a way that is true to science but sensitive to Islamic tradition. The toolkit emphasizes the necessity of sexual and reproductive health programming for Muslim American youth that is engaging, accurate, relatable, and most importantly, in line with Islamic values. While this took kit is designed to support initial conversations about sexual and reproductive health for those who engage with Muslim youth through their work, a more detailed toolkit is also available for educators and administrators who are ready to take on the great task of developing such programming. Congratulations to HEART Women and Girls on this great achievement! To access the new toolkit, go here.

My Voice Counts!

You Can Still Join the Global Partnership for Youth in the Post-2015 Agenda! In partnership with other UN entities, international NGOs, youth groups, and stakeholders, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth is hosting a crowdsourcing initiative on youth priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. The crowdsourcing is part of the Global Partnership for Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which was announced by the Secretary General earlier this year. The Global Partnership and crowdsourcing are meant to serve as vehicles for youth and youth organizations to discuss what they think should be reflected as priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. These will link to online and offline events, including the World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka in May. Key outcomes of the crowdsourcing will be discussed and consolidated at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in June. Both the partnership and crowdsourcing are initiatives of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in partnership with ITU, UNFPA, UNMC, the Major Group on Children and Youth, with the support of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s Sub-Working Group on Post-2015, and the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations. The crowdsourcing is available at crowdsourcing.itu.int and you can go here for more information. Join the My Body My Rights Campaign. Amnesty International has launched a global campaign “My Body My Rights,” in response to what it says is the growing number of laws around the world criminalizing people’s sex lives and restricting women’s control over their bodies. The two-year campaign seeks to “stop the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction by governments and others” by urging leaders to stop using the law to discriminate against women and sexual minorities, remove obstacles to sexual and reproductive health services, and empower those affected to advocate for their rights. For more information about the campaign, go here: English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Portuguese Submit an Application to Present at the Melbourne YouthForce Youth Pre-Conference! The Melbourne YouthForce (MYF) would like to invite you to lead a workshop or present during the MYF Youth Pre-Conference at the 2014 International AIDS Conference. The Pre-Conference will offer a space where young people can network, learn from each other, and participate in skill building workshops. It will also provide an orientation to AIDS 2014 to facilitate youth engagement and advocacy at the conference. The closing date for all applications is May 9. For more information on the MYF, the main conference, the Youth Pre-Conference, the Peer Support Program, and the application forms, please go here: MYF Youth Program. If you have any questions, please email: myf.preconference@gmail.com. Nominate a Colleague for the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award. AmfAR is partnering with the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) to honor the memory of Dame Elizabeth Taylor by presenting the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. First given to Iranian physicians Arash and Kamiar Alaei at the 2012 conference in Washington, DC, the award recognizes exemplary efforts to advance human rights in the field of HIV and AIDS. The honoree will be presented with a limited-edition statue and a certificate citing his/her achievements. (The Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award has no monetary value per se, but the honoree will receive a prepaid conference registration and coverage of all travel, accommodation and related expenses.) To be eligible for the award, the individual must demonstrate a history of excellence as a leader and advocate for human rights in the field of HIV. Nominations should be submitted online at http://www.amfar.org/etnom/ and will be accepted until 9:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

Read All About It!

The way forward for gender equality (opinion piece by Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund). We all remember when the headlines, nearly half a century ago, warned of an imminent population explosion. Governments were scrambling to find the solution and their answer was to limit population growth, especially in the developing world. In 1994, we found what then seemed like an unlikely answer to dealing with changing population dynamics: women. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held iin Cairo in1994, made news when a number of women groups were able to successfully convince governments of this proposition and shift the debate from population control to women’s empowerment. They were successful because they argued that an investment in women’s health and education would lead to economic development. To read this article, go here.

GHANA: Race against time to cut maternal mortality. In a country where the World Health Organization estimates 560 pregnant women will die out of every 100,000 that go into labour, the news that a birth is imminent can be a distressing experience for expectant mothers and their families. One such woman, Joanna Dartey, 38, emerged from the consulting room at Ghana’s main government hospital with thick sweat on her brow. “I am scared”, she said, after recounting the news from her doctor that she will be going into labour within the next seven days. To read this article, go here.

UN: Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law May Harm Public Health. The U.N. human rights chief says Nigeria’s new anti-gay law may have “negative consequences” for public health. Navi Pillay says the law could hinder government, civil and religious groups from delivering HIV education and preventative care and deter gay and transgender people from seeking services. She told Justice Minister Mohammed Adoke at a meeting Thursday that the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act violates fundamental human rights and the Nigerian constitution. To read this article, go here.

Bolivian women battle against culture of harassment. Two years after the murder of an outspoken female councillor ushered in new legislation outlawing political violence against women in Bolivia, campaigners say a culture of harassment remains, as Paula Dear reports from La Paz. Juana Quispe’s lifeless body was dumped near the Orkojahuira River, in La Paz region. She had been strangled. Her murder – one of a series of violent attacks against elected female leaders across Bolivia – sparked nationwide protests and led to the adoption of a long-delayed law to tackle the issue. To read this article, go here.

Village gives girls pioneering sex education class. In neat rows, the girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted. “Scream!” one called out. “Bite!” another suggested. “Scratch really hard with your nails!” a third said. Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in deeply conservative rural Pakistan, a Muslim nation of 180 million people. Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organized sex education. In some places it has been banned. To read this article, go here.

Afghan Law Would Silence Victims Of Domestic Violence, Rights Group Warns. A new law approved by the Afghan parliament could have catastrophic implications for women in the country as it would silence victims of domestic violence, human rights groups warned. Afghanistan’s parliament passed amendments to the criminal code last month, including an article that would ban victims’ relatives testifying in court. International advocacy group Human Rights Watch warns that without such witness testimony, cases of domestic abuse and forced marriage will be virtually impossible to prosecute. The organization is now calling on Afghan President Hamid Karzai not to sign the law into effect. To read this article go here.

Tools You Can Use

International Conference on Population and Development Beyond 2014 Global Report. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report is the culmination of a landmark UN review of progress, gaps, challenges and emerging issues in relation to the ICPD Programme of Action. It gathers data from 176 member states, alongside inputs from civil society and comprehensive academic research. The report provides vital support for member states’ continued commitment to ICPD and asserts the programme’s relevance to the Post-2015 development agenda. It includes a breadth of information on adolescents and how investments in youth and gender equality are essential to deliver sustainable global development goals. To access the report and its annexes, go here.

The Unfinished Agenda to Meet FP2020: 12 Actions to Fill Critical Evidence Gaps By the Population Council Achieving the global community’s goal of providing 120 million additional women and girls with access to life-saving family planning information and services by 2020 is possible. But first we need to address key knowledge gaps. This report identifies these gaps and proposes strategies to generate evidence to ensure that investments in voluntary family planning programs are effective and sustainable. To access the report, go here.

Improving the Health of Women and Adolescents: An Unfinished Agenda By the International Center for Research on Women for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division This paper examines progress in women’s and adolescent health and mortality in an effort to educate a wide audience – from government officials to the general public – on key demographic issues. To access the paper, go here.

Reclaiming and Redefining Rights: The Status of Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights in the Middle East & North Africa – Report By the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights This report evaluates the progress made towards fulfilling commitments under the International Conference for Population and Development (1994) Programme of Action in Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Palestine, Turkey and Tunisia. The report relies on data from different United Nations bodies and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). The report also relies on a wide range of qualitative studies and human rights reports to support the quantitative statistics and data, as well as several interviews with activists and NGOs. Using several indicators to measure this progress, the report is divided into three main sections: the status of women’s rights and health expenditures; the status of maternal care, abortion, fertility and family planning, and reproductive cancers; and states’ protection of sexual rights using data on sexuality education, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, early marriage, human trafficking, and gender based violence. The report is in English and excerpts of it are available in Arabic. English | Arabic

Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion in Burkina Faso: Causes and Consequences By the Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP) of the University of Ouagadougou and the Guttmacher Institute An estimated 105,000 abortions occurred in Burkina Faso in 2012, the vast majority of which were clandestine procedures performed under unsafe conditions that jeopardize Burkinabe women’s health and lives. According to the report, 43% of women who had an unsafe abortion experienced complications serious enough to require treatment, but many women did not receive the medical care they needed. The researchers found that a woman’s socioeconomic status largely determines the type of abortion provider she will use, and thus how safe her procedure will be. The level of risk was greatest for poor rural women. The vast majority of women decide to terminate a pregnancy for the same reason: they are faced with an unintended pregnancy. This high level of unintended pregnancy is a result of low levels of contraceptive use. To view findings from the report in English, go here. To access the full report in French, go here.

Emergency Contraception Toolkit By k4health This Toolkit contains fundamental information, evidence-based guidance, and programmatic tools for providing emergency contraception. The Toolkit also provides a range of case studies and reports sharing experiences and lessons learned from implementation of emergency contraception programs in countries around the world. Use the purple navigation menu on the right side of the page or the site map to browse the resources in this Toolkit. To access the toolkit, go here.

New Love Matters web site By Love Matters Love Matters, a website aimed at providing sex education to people worldwide has launched an Arabic version. The website, which is already published in a number of languages, including English, Hindi and Spanish, has won the award for Excellence & Innovation in Sexuality Education for 2013 from the World Association for Sexual Health. To view the new Arabic version of the website, go here. To view the English website, go here. To view the Hindi website, go here.

Coming Up

April 22nd is International Mother Earth Day!The proclamation of 22 April as International Mother Earth Day is an acknowledgement that the Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity. You can use this day to honor the earth and to urge others to take actions that support the environment, including promoting young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Did you know that there are 222 million women around the world with an unmet need for contraception and that in some regions young women ages 15-19 are twice as likely have an unmet need for contraception than women over twenty? If you care about young people, women’s rights, reproductive health, climate change, and the environment, the good news is that fulfilling the unmet need for contraception is a highly cost-effective way of addressing climate change. When women have power over if, when and how many children to have, communities are better equipped to adapt to climate change and contribute to a more sustainable environment. What can you do?

  • Host a community event to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our environment and ensuring that everyone can exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
  • Engage with coalitions or organizations working in your community to advance environmental sustainability and/or sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Identify and request a meeting with community leaders and/or decision-makers to inform them about the connections between climate change and the importance of ensuring that young people can access sexual and reproductive health education and services.
  • Blog on Advocates’ youth activist website, amplifyyourvoice.org, and write about why you care about the earth, how you see the connections between youth sexual and reproductive health and rights and environmental sustainability, or about what you think governments and communities should be doing to make a difference.

For background information about this day, you can go here. You can also check out the Earth Day Network here. You can also check out Advocates’ fact sheet about sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change here: English | Spanish

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