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May 2015 iYAN Newsletter

Advocates for Youth Newsletter

MAY 2015

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?

Girl Engagement Advisory Board Members and Advocates’ President Call Attention to Girls’ Rights in the Media. As part of Advocates’ Our Moment Campaign and with the clock ticking towards the new Sustainable Development Goals, Advocates’ Girl Engagement Advisory Board members and our President, Debra Hauser, have been busy working to get the word out in the media that girls’ rights must be prioritized! The more we can get the media to report on the particular challenges that girls face and their potential towards advancing a more just and sustainable world, the more we hope that leaders from around the world will take notice and, more importantly, action. Check out their pieces below:

  • The UN Needs to Focus on Girls Plight, by Mai in Egypt and published in the Washington Post
  • A Girl’s Battle for Respect in a Boy’s World, by Patricia in Madagascar and published in the American Chamber of Commerce in Madagascar Post
  • Celebrating Mother’s Day in Pakistan: The dark side of ‘motherhood’, by Hamna in Egypt and posted on MSNBC
  • Keeping Young Women Safe, by Advocates for Youth’s President, Debra Hauser, published in the New York Times

You too can speak out on girls’ rights. Join the Our Moment Campaign by posting a blog on amplifyyourvoice.org or share the Our Moment Campaign materials with friends, family, and decision makers in your community.

The International Youth Leadership Council’s International Lobby Day Makes the Case for Global LGBT Youth Rights in Washington, DC. Members of the Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC), alongside over a dozen students from the Washington, DC area, participated in Advocates’ 2015 International Lobby Day. The lobby day focused on securing support from United Sates policy makers for the International Human Rights Defense Act of 2015. Introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) in the House, and in the Senate by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), this legislation calls on the United States State Department to continue its efforts to promote and defend lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights internationally, with an eye to the particular challenges facing LGBTQ youth. The bill would make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and create a Special Envoy within the State Department who would serve as principle advisor to the Secretary of State on LGBT issues.

Following an afternoon of interactive trainings of effective lobbying and messaging, lobby day participants met with over a dozen congressional offices as well as members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to champion passage of this bill. One of the key messages lobby day participants shared with hill staffers was the need to prioritize this legislation to ensure that this position within the State Department be permanent and therefore secure beyond this administration.

M.A. Keifer, Advocates’ International Policy Analyst, said it well: While we were excited to see the Obama administration and Secretary John Kerry appoint Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, our priority in this lobby day was to ensure congressional offices made every effort to ensure that this position does not disappear at the end of this administration. Passage of this bill would do just that.”

Thanks to the efforts of these young advocates, two members of the United States Congress, Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille (D-CA-40)and Rep. Rush, Bobby L. (D-IL-1) became co-sponsors of the bill!


State of the World’s Mothers Report by Save the Children. The findings are clear. One of the worst places in the world to be a mother is in an urban slum. The 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers report delves into a comparison of the health disparities between wealthy and poor women and children living in cities around the world. In 2015 more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. Unfortunately, a growing proportion of child deaths are occurring within these cities in urban slums.

To access the report, go here.

Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality by the World Health Organization and the Human Reproduction Programme. Launched at the World Health Assembly this month, this report proposes a global target for maternal mortality, supplemented by context-specific national-level targets. The targets and strategies are grounded in a human rights approach to maternal and newborn health, and focus attention on eliminating significant inequities that persist, resulting in disparities in access quality, and outcomes of care within and between countries.

To access the report, go here.

The True Costs of Maternal Death: Individual Tragedy Impacts Family, Community and Nations Reproductive Health, Volume II, Supplement I. This issue of Reproductive Health features seven studies, with data drawn from four African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa. The studies document the dramatic economic and social impacts of a maternal death. This issue also shares strategies for lessening the burden on families and communities, as well as programs for reducing maternal mortality overall. To access this issue, go here.

West Africa Private Health Sectors: Six Macro-Level Assessments By the SHOPS Project

This brief is a summary of the West Africa private health sector assessment conducted by the SHOPS project. The assessment looked at six countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger, and Togo. The brief presents the assessment methods, findings, and both regional and country-specific recommendations. The recommendations aim to strengthen family planning and HIV service delivery by leveraging the unique capabilities of the West Africa Health Organization as well as each country’s private health sector.

To access the brief, go here.

Policy brief: Leave no-one behind in the post-2015 health agenda By the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Ahead of the 68th World Health Assembly, this policy brief sets out recommendations to WHO, the World Bank and health ministers to ensure healthcare for key populations who are vulnerable and most at risk of HIV is secured for the next 15 years.

Youth and Abortion Guidelines by the International Planned Parenthood Federation. This evidence-based guidance document provides recommendations to increase young people’s access to high quality youth-friendly abortion information, services and referral. The guidance draws on the experiences of clients, health professionals and technical experts at the national, regional and international levels of IPPF. You can access the document in English, Spanish, and French, by going here.

How to Hold a Successful Share Fair by K4Health. This is a reference tool for anyone who works in public health or international development and wants to bring together a group of people to discuss ideas, address challenges, and share best practices. The simple handbook guides users through the ins and outs of holding a share fair and includes customizable planning tools and concrete examples. A share fair is a participatory event—usually focused on a single topic or field—that promotes learning from participants’ experiences to improve their work.

To access the tool, go here.


Urge Paraguay to provide abortion for child rape survivor. Last month a 10-year-old girl in Asunción, Paraguay arrived at a local hospital complaining of a stomach ache. Tests revealed that she was 21-weeks pregnant—a result of her stepfather sexually assaulting her. In Paraguay, abortion is only legal when the life of the pregnant person is at risk; therefore she’s entitled to receive abortion care. But despite doctors confirming that her pregnancy is high risk, and her mother’s request for the procedure, she has been denied the abortion care she needs.

Forcing this young girl to continue an unwanted pregnancy is an outrageous violation of her human rights, and has been classified by activists and advocates around the world as tantamount to torture. If you agree, please take a moment to sign your name to this letter to Dr. Antonio Barrios, the Minister of Public Health and Wellbeing in Paraguay, urging him to intervene in this situation. The farther along in the pregnancy the more danger this girl is in so it’s essential that we act quickly. We’ve seen before that international pressure is essential to bring justice for women and girls—add your voice today!

To access the letter, go here.

Youth Video Contest to be speakers/moderators at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). The ICFP Youth Video Contest was launched in 2013 to invite young people ages 18 to 25 to serve as speakers and/or moderators on youth-focused and other sessions at the 2013 conference. It was a great success and conference organizers are again inviting young people to create videos demonstrating their passion for family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Young people who submit winning videos will have conference registration and travel costs covered, and will play an essential role in providing a youth perspective to the program. For more information, please click here to review the application guidelines. A flyer can also be downloaded. The deadline is June 5, 2015.

Call for Best Practices for adolescent/youth-friendly HIV services. MEASURE Evaluation welcomes proposals for inclusion in a Compendium of Best Practices for Adolescent/Youth-friendly HIV Services. The goal of this activity is to answer critical questions that move forward USAID’s mission of supporting (a) the adoption of evidence-based practices in adolescent/youth-friendly HIV care and services to help at-risk adolescents (age 10-19 years) and youth (age 15-24 years) stay HIV-free, and (b) the provision of comprehensive packages of HIV prevention, care, treatment, and retention services to adolescents/youth living with HIV in order to promote their successful transition to adulthood.

This environmental scan of adolescent/youth-friendly HIV services focuses on persons aged 10-24 years in 22 countries receiving support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These countries include Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

To submit your proposal, please fill out the form located here, and send to Anastasia Gage of MEASURE Evaluation/Tulane University at agage@tulane.edu, with a copy to mdo@tulane.edu. The form should be sent as a Microsoft Word attachment. All Best Practices submissions must be received by June 30, 2015. Submitters will be notified about the status of their proposal via email on October 1, 2015.

You can still provide input to the Draft Global Plan of Action for Addressing Violence within Health Systems. The World Health Organization is holding a series of consultations to solicit input on their draft global plan of action for strengthening the role of health systems in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls and against children. This initiative is the result of a resolution adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2014 that requires the WHO Director-General to develop such a plan. The global plan of action will be finalized by May 2016, when it will be considered by the 69th World Health Assembly.

WHO is asking organizations to provide feedback to the zero draft, available online by 4 June 2015 by emailing violencegap@who.int. Feedback can be provided as individual organizations and/or as consolidated responses.

For more information, go here.


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. To read about the day, go here.

Did you know…

  • In 2014, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million people for the first time in the post-World War II era.
  • War across large swathes of the Middle East and Africa in the first six months of 2014 forcibly displaced some 5.5 million people, signaling yet another record, according to the United Nations.
  • Of the 5.5 million people who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries also known as IDPs or internally displaced persons.
  • UNHCR estimates that the average length of major protracted refugee situations has increased from 9 years in 1993 to 17 years at the end of 2003.
  • 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.
  • Young women and girls are commonly targeted in armed conflict; however, their special needs are frequently overlooked or ignored.
  • More than 140 million girls live in fragile states affected by armed conflict. Of the 42 million people who have had to flee their homes because of war, 80 percent are women, children and young people. At least 10 million are estimated to be girls and young women.

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.
  • 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.
  • Read the UNHCR’s new Mid-Year Trends 2014 Report
  • Check out the Women’s Refugee Commission web site page on adolescent girls.
  • Learn about refugees and young people by going to the Women’s Refugee Commission web site page on youth here.
  • Read “Refugee Girls: The Invisible Faces of War here.

Read All About It!

800 women die daily from complications of pregnancy, childbirth.The International Day of the Midwife – marked on 5 May. Below is the statement for the International Day of the Midwife By Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA’s boss says nearly 800 women continue to die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

To read the statement, go here.

Gambia: ‘Gambia Among 10 Countries With Greatest Risk to Be Mother’. The Gambia is one of the ten countries in world with the highest and greatest risk to be a mother, despite improvements in children’s and maternal health, a report by Save the Children has said.

The ‘State of the World’s Mothers 2015: The Urban Disadvantage’ is a global index by Save the Children that ranks the best and worst places to be a mother.

To read this article, go here.

Teen pregnancies, child marriage behind high maternal deaths in Malaysia, say activists –. The higher risk of women dying during pregnancy or in childbirth in Malaysia compared to Singapore is because of teen pregnancies and child marriage, activists said today. Social activist Azrul Mohd Khalib said the government’s push for pro-abstinence sex education has resulted in the rise of teen pregnancies and child marriages, which affects the girls’ maternal health.

To read this article, go here.

Finally: Nigeria Criminalizes Female Genital Mutilation. The Senate passed a law yesterday which is against prohibit female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices. The bill also prohibits the abadonement of a spouses, children and other dependants without monetary sustenance, battery and harmful traditional practices.

To read this article, go here.

Morocco king orders laws changed to allow abortion for incest, rape, danger to mother’s health. Moroccan King Mohammed VI has ordered that laws restricting abortion be loosened, allowing it in the case of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s health or fetal malformation. Debate erupted in this North African kingdom earlier this year over reforming the penal code, which banned abortion except in cases of a threat to the mother’s life. The king had his justice minister, religious affairs minister and the head of the state human rights organization study the issue.

Jamaica Woman Brings Attention to Rapes Targeting Lesbians. When Angeline Jackson and a friend were ambushed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted on a wooded trail outside the Jamaican capital, police initially seemed less concerned about the attack than the fact she is a lesbian.

“The first policewoman I spoke to told me I should leave this lifestyle and go back to church,” Jackson recalled of the 2009 attack, shaking her head in frustration.

To read this article, go here.

Kenya: High Court Orders LGBT Group Registration. The High Court of Kenya, in a groundbreaking decision, ruled on April 24, 2015, that members of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights group could formally register their organization, Human Rights Watch said today.

The High Court decision was issued in response to a petition filed by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) to register under the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board Act. The Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board, a government body, rejected the group’s request to register in March 2013. In denying the application, the board said that the name of the organization was “unacceptable,” and that it could not register it because Kenya’s penal code “criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons.”

To read this article, go here.

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