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
Including Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Budget
By Victor, Youth Coalition Member (Sweden) In international development the use of so-called Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) has become standard practice. PRSPs are essentially national blueprints for growth, usually spanning over 3-5 years. They describe macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programs, as well as analyze needs for external investments. As PRSPs are standard practice and, strongly influence the work of governments and their partners, to what extent are young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) reflected in them?
PRSPs are written by developing country governments, ideally through a participatory process involving civil society and development partners, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In theory, PRSPs have a strong potential to coordinate and strengthen development and growth. In reality, the process rarely gives enough attention to young people’s needs. Neglecting young people’s needs in development planning and national budgets will make the goals set out in the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) difficult to achieve.
In light of the disparities between political ambitions to strengthen young people’s sexual and reproductive rigths (SRR) and the common exclusion of SRR in PRSPs, the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YC) decided in 2007 to engage in PRSP advocacy initiatives. Following an internal training in February 2008, the YC initiated research on countries in which the current PRSP would soon reach the end of its term, and a new PRSP was being written. The YC sought to link up with youth SRR activists for a pilot project intended to strengthen young people in PRSP advocacy, with the goal to include young people’s SRR in the PRSP currently being written.
In January 2009, the YC organized a pilot training for young people in Accra, Ghana, partnering with a local youth organization, Young & Wise. The purpose of the training was two-fold. First, the training was aimed at increasing the capacity among the participants and their organizations to engage in the ongoing Ghanaian PRSP process. Secondly, the training provided an opportunity to distinguish between what kind of training components would be useful in future youth advocacy PRSP and SRR trainings.
During the training, the existence of budget lines for Reproductive Health Supplies (such as contraceptives and materials needed for safe motherhood) was used as indicator for the level of actual commitment to young people’s SRR in PRSPs. It proved to be an efficient method, and could probably be used in tracking SRR components within the implementation process of PRSPs. A follow-up evaluation conducted five months after the training confirmed that the training had indeed been useful for the participants, and that the follow-up process, the engagement in the national process, was proceeding well.
It is important to note that the work on PRSPs by the YC is by far not the only initiative concerning young people and PRSPs. International organizations such as UNFPA and youth organizations such as the National Youth Council of Sweden have been breaking ground in this important field for several years. It is therefore key that all actors in the PRSP process, be it governments, youth organizations, donors or international agencies, learn from the work that has already been carried out and collaborate as much as possible with organizations that have experiences to share. The YC is currently designing a standardized curriculum for future trainings, with the recommendations from the pilot training.
Education in Ethiopia: where is it going?
By Lina, Ethiopia
Education is the major agent for change towards advanced and sustainable development. It lays the foundation for diverse positive initiatives; and helps create civilized and orderly citizens. Besides, education has the potential to empower women and make them a part of global action. The distribution and quality of education differs across different countries depending on the economic setup of the country.
In Ethiopia there are 79.1 million people and approximately 35 percent are young people ages 10 to 24.
The status of education in Ethiopia has been affected by various factors, like historical events, economic level, political unrests, and social acceptance. In Ethiopia, education is a recent phenomenon. There were no formal schools prior to 1960, instead the church served as an educational institution and was instrumental in imparting education. The last emperor of Ethiopia, that is Haile Selassie, introduced modern education in the late 1960s; however, its prevalence was insignificant and, as a result, raised the rate of illiteracy.
To read more, check out Lina’s blog here:
The Story of Sustainability:IYD 2009
By ChicaRocky, Jamaica
The first time I heard about sustainability was in High School, when we were talking about types of governments and economies and resources. The essence of sustainability is that a population is able to use the available resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. When I heard the theme for International Youth Day 2009, the theme for a camp I attended earlier in the summer ran through my mind: “Action Time – Nuh Linga!” In essence, there’s something to do, and we have to do it now. The whole issue of sustainability, in my eyes, is a bit in the reverse, because the level of sustainability of one era is not dependent on how that set of people use their resources, but is dependent on how the people before them did–meaning that for the most part, we have minimum control over our sustainability. (Please note: everything said after this point is my opinion, even though I won’t be repeating “in my eyes” or “in my view” much.). The sustainability of the economy people live in can be likened to a family heirloom. (e.g. a plate).
To read more, check out ChicaRocky’s blog here:
More abandoned babies in Nigeria
By mareeez, Nigeria
According to a recent article in a national newspaper in Nigeria, the wife of a state governor in the country recently raised a concern about the increasing number of teen pregnancies and abandoned babies in gutters, dustbins, and other dehumanizing places, as she called it. It has been observed that these mothers are usually victims of rape or those lured into premarital sex with older men. She said, “We founded an interventionist agency, Movement Against Child Abandonment (MACA), which picks and caters for over 53 abandoned babies. Every week, we get calls from offices to pick up babies left in dustbins or very filthy environments.” While this is a laudable idea, we must begin to address some of the root causes of the problem.
To read more, check out mareez’ blog here:
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My Voice Counts!
2010 NGO Global Forum for Women: Beijing +15
The 2010 NGO Global Forum for Women for Beijing +15 will take place February 27-28, 2010, in New York City. This Forum immediately precedes the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which will undertake a 15-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action. For more information, visit the website
15 and Counting: Still Strong! Keep it up!
International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) 15 and Counting campaign focuses on meeting the youth-related goals of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. As of August 21, 2009, more than 115,000 people have signed the 15 and Counting petition, and another 4,000 have taken the associated survey (you can only access the survey after signing the petition).
The 15 and Counting campaign has re-launched its web site, which now provides more background on the initiative. Check it out here: http://www.15andcounting.org/. Keep encouraging activists to sign!
Additional resources are available at http://www.15andcounting.org/blog/?page_id=7.
To download the document, click here:
Apply for a Women Deliver Conference 2010 Scholarship!
The Women Deliver global conference, held in Washington DC on June 7-9, 2010, will focus on the theme: Delivering solutions for girls and women. Girls and women are the solution; not the problem. Women Deliver is committed to making Women Deliver 2010 accessible to individuals from all over the world, and will offer full conference scholarships to selected candidates. DEADLINE: We must receive your completed application online on or before the deadline of December 15, 2009. Fill out a scholarship application now!
Simple and Easy: 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, would like us to include it with your article, 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s Going on Advocates for Youth?
Berlin NGO Forum Launches Campaign for a Call to Action
In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), civil society leaders, representing approximately 400 NGOs from over 130 countries, gathered in Berlin for the Global Partners in Action NGO Forum. Sponsored by the German government and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Forum aimed to strengthen NGOs working in partnership to secure political and financial investment in sexual and reproductive health and rights as a development priority.
Prior to the Forum, the Youth Coalition hosted a Youth Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) Symposium for all youth participants on September 1, 2009. Close to 60 young people shared experiences and discussed opportunities, challenges and innovative ideas to further promote young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Youth SRR Symposium culminated in the production of a Youth Statement that outlines key priorities for policy makers and decision makers from government, donors, the private sector, and civil society to act on. The youth statement fed into the Berlin Call to Action and the Strategic Options for NGOs document, thereby ensuring young people’s voices within these important outcome documents.
To learn more about what happened at the Forum, go to: http://www.globalngoforum.de/
You can read coverage of the Youth SRR Symposium on the RH Reality Check blog at: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/09/01/young-people-call-end-stigma-against-frank-talk-about-sex-and-against-sex-education-0
The Berlin Call to Action developed during the Global Partners in Action meeting is available here
The youth statement developed at the Youth Symposium is here
The Lancet article “Sex, rights, and politics – from Cairo to Berlin” is also available for download here: http://www.globalngoforum.de/downloads/others/
Advocates’ 10th Anniversary of the Urban Retreat–Largest Training of the Year
On September 11-15, 120 youth activists from around the country and world joined Advocates’ staff in Washington, D.C., for the 10th annual Urban Retreat. Ranging in age from 14-24, from 24 different states, 4 countries, and a variety of backgrounds, these amazing young people shared their expertise with one another and Advocates staff; learned about the latest findings and legislation that affect reproductive health; participated in trainings on topics from social justice, to working with the media, to movement building, to blogging and other forms of online activism; and made a commitment to be lifelong advocates for young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights.
Some highlights of the Urban Retreat were:
- The screening of recently produced youth-led video clips from Jamaica, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, which share honest discussions by young people about reproductive and sexual health in their countries. The video clips will soon be posted on Amplify!
- UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibé, held a dialogue with participants about the importance of a global youth movement working to ensure young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights!
- Members of the International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) and International Youth Speak Out (iYSO) project met with Policy Liason, Ann Gavighan of the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator to emphasize the importance of comprehensive sex education in the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the integration of family planning in HIV prevention programs.
- Members of the IYLC and iYSO met with the offices of Senator Menendez and Representative Payne to ask for an increase in international family planning funding and a focus on youth; a focus on young people and a rights-based framework within any upcoming foreign assistance reform or global health strategy; and youth involvement in policy and program design and implementation through out US foreign assistance.
- Advocates for Youth met with over 110 Congressional offices, and is now in contact with the twenty offices that have indicated that they would be interested in having further conversations to become a cosponsor the REAL Act.
- Check out some photos here of the Urban Retreat:
Kiki, youth activist from Nigeria, speaking at the Urban Retreat
Ephrem, youth activist from Ethiopia
Members of the International Youth Leadership Council
Youth activists from Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Jamaica at the Urban Retreat
Jamaican Youth Advocate Earns Award of Scholarship and Speaks on Capitol Hill for young MSM rights
Jaevion Nelson, former Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), a partner of Advocates for Youth, recently earned a British Council Chevening Scholarship. Now, Jaevion will be assisting from time to time with JYAN’s work from overseas, as he has just traveled to the UK to study for his Master of Science degree in social development and communication at the University of Wales, Swansea. Jaevion said:
“I am very excited about the program, because social development and communication are my passion. I have been doing a lot of both, but never gained qualification in the areas. On completion, I am really looking to get into a United Nations program for young professionals or some other big organizations … I am really passionate about national development and, as such, gaining the requisite qualification in the area would only prove worthwhile.”
After Jaevion was awarded his scholarship, he went to Washington, D.C., after being nominated speak on a panel at a UNAIDS briefing on Capitol Hill. Jaevion spoke eloquently, in between Dr. Eric Goosby, the new Ambassador for the Office of Global AIDS Coodinator (OGAC), and Mr. Michel Sidibé, the new UNAIDS Executive Director, to give incites on the challenges men who have sex with men (MSM) face in Jamaica and the greater Caribbean and, most importantly, the action that civil society, government, and young people need to take to ensure a safer, healthier Jamaica for young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth.
In his speech, Jaevion said:
“Generally, sex between men is a hidden phenomenon in the homophobic culture where songs instigate violence and gay men are called names and chased out of their homes and communities–which indicates the level of intolerance for sexual diversity. Unsafe sex between men is believed to account for about one tenth of reported HIV cases in the Caribbean region. Now, if you zoom in on Jamaica, the 2008 country report submitted to UNAIDS by the Ministry of Health indicates that the HIV prevalence rate among Jamaican men who have sex with men is between 25 and 30 per cent.
I am knowledgeable that the attitudes and behaviors of health professionals and service providers will not change overnight. However, as a country, in collaboration with others in the region and allies within the international community we must act quickly to:
1) encourage national discourse and promote a culture of respect and tolerance for individual choices with respect to sex work and/or homosexuality;
2) know our epidemic and address realities with funding and specific programming for MSM and young MSM;
3) decriminalize homosexuality and sex work; and
3) involve MSM and young MSM in the design, implementation and evaluation of our country’s response to HIV/AIDS.
This will ensure that my peers will access the appropriate information and care needed without the possibility of the health provider being judgmental of the client.
This will ensure appropriate programming that responds to the needs of young MSM.
This will prevent young men from leaving the country for fear of being killed.
This will prevent HIV.”
Read the rest of Jaevion’s speech
To read the Gleaner article on Jaevion’s scholarship, click here:
To read an article on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica among marginalized population, click here:
Read All About It
Hilary Clinton Redefines the role of Secretary of State as an Advocate for Women’s Rights
Clinton concluded an 11-day trip to Africa in August with the intention of making women’s rights a high priority for American diplomacy. Throughout her trip, she spoke at town hall meetings, visited micro credit projects, and attended women’s dinners. In the Congo, a student asked Hilary for former president Bill Clinton’s opinion on a local political issue and her response was, “My husband is not the secretary of state. I am.”
Clinton Puts Spotlight on Women’s Issues – Washington Post
Medical Journal Questions South Africa’s Health Policy
The Lancet has published six papers online that provide a strong signal that the South African governing party’s new leadership intends to change a poorly managed health system. Medical scientists have challenged the governing party for its poor track record on AIDS and public health, because of their ignorance to cutting-edge scientific findings. Dr. Motsoaledi, South Africa’s new Health Minister since May 2009, said, “I am feeling quite at home and comfortable with this Lancet report.”
South Africa Embraces Study Critical of Health Policy
South Africa Embraces Study Critical of Health Policy – New York Times
UNESCO releases new U.N. Guide for Comprehensive Sex Education
The new set of proposed “international sex education guidelines,” which address four differetn age groups, will be distributed to education ministries, school systems, and teachers around the world to help guide teachers in what to teach young people about their bodies, sexual relationships, and sexually transmitted infections. Mark Richmond, UNESCO’s global coordinator for HIV and AIDS and director of the division that coordinates education priorities, said, “Only 40 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 have accurate knowledge” of how the disease is transmitted, even though that age group “accounts for 45 percent of all new cases.”
U.N. Guide for Sex Ed Generates Opposition
Text Messaging: A popular channel to advertise free HIV tests in Ethiopia
“New Year! New Life! Test for HIV, test with your partner, get your children tested and brighten the future of your family! Free testing. Happy New Year!” says an SMS message sent to 2.5 million mobile users in Ethiopia right before the week of New Year celebrations. Ethiopia follows a calendar, not practiced in the West, where there are 13 months in every year and September 11 is the New Year’s Day. According to this calendar, Ethiopia just started the year of 2002 this past September.
Ethiopians Offered Free AIDS Tests By Text Messaging
Research for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Intensifies in Nigeria
Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, said that Nigeria had earlier established a vaccine plan that will be scaled up on sites selected for AIDS vaccine clinical trials. He added, “An African vaccine will cater for the needs of Africans, we will not be the last on the list, as in other circumstances, because if initiatives scales through, African countries will be given priority.”
Nigeria: Country to Intensify Research for AIDS Vaccine
Tools You Can Use
International guidelines on sexuality education reaffirmed by UN
In the face of strong opposition to UNESCO’s guidelines on sexuality education, UNFPA has reaffirmed its support for comprehensive sexuality education as an essential component of efforts to protect the health and rights of young people. “We have been supporting national efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health education and services for young people for decades and we will continue to do so,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director.
Download the guidelines
Investing in reproductive justice for all: Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights
What is ‘comprehensive’ when it comes to sexual and reproductive health, and why does it matter? A new report from CHANGE establishes a new framework to assess sexual and reproductive health programs based on field visits to the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia and Botswana. Read more
What does universal access to reproductive health mean for young people?
In September 2006, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to adopt Target 5.B of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): “Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health” (RH). Nearly half of the world’s population is currently under the age of 25 and across the globe, young people face unique challenges that increase their risk of sexual and reproductive health morbidity and mortality. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to address the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in order to achieve universal access to RH.
This fact sheet addresses access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as a human right for all people, including young people, and will discuss the indicators for MDG Target 5.B. The fact sheet also deals with what is required to achieve universal access to reproductive health for young people, and its other central aspects, such as: access to youth friendly SRH services; comprehensive sexuality education; access to safe abortion care; integration of HIV, STI and RH services; harmful practices and gender-based violence; and meaningful youth participation.
To download the fact sheet, click here:
The Global Youth Fund Releases Creative Activist Toolkit
It has been said that, “you can’t be passionate about something you suck at.” That’s why the Global Youth Fund is turning their attention to creating a groundbreaking toolkit to help young change-makers get really good at creating social change.
The Creative Activist Toolkit is a series of presentations that can be viewed and downloaded online here. Each chapter shares insights and inspiration from other “creative activists” and lets you in on the secrets of their success.
In the first few chapters, you will learn how to:
- Address root causes of a problem, not just its symptoms.
- Create a simple and effective video about your project.
- Get media attention for your project.
- Make a real difference on the issue you care about.
- Communicate your message and make an impact.
- Develop an effective strategy for change.
- Create a presentation for fundraising.
- Check them out, put them to use, and let the Global Youth Fund know if they helped you or how they can improve them.
For Youth, By Youth: Unlike other toolkits out there, the Creative Activist Toolkit is also a platform for all to contribute. You can share your own tips and insights with our community, or you can work with them to produce your own chapter.
If you have a great story, a lesson, or a how-to guide you’d like to share, get in touch with the Global Youth Fund. They’ll help you put it together.
Take action now! Download and share!
November 25th: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence — yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned.
— UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 8 March 2007
At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually being someone known to her. Violence against women and girls is a universal problem of epidemic proportions. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know of today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
According to the Secretary General’s In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women (2006), 89 states currently have some legislative provisions on domestic violence against women, including 60 states with specific domestic violence laws, and a growing number of countries with instituted national plans of action to end violence against women. This is a clear increase in comparison to 2003, when UNIFEM did a scan of anti-violence legislation and only 45 countries had specific laws on domestic violence. However, absence of adequate resources and political will to implement policies continues to hamper progress.
In February 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his campaign, “UNite to End Violence against Women,” a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.
Now, for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women—we can call on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.
To join the UNiTE campaign, click here.
To read more about International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, click here.
To learn about the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, click here.
World AIDS Day Blogathon on Amplify
December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day for individuals from all parts of the world to come together in solidarity to bring attention to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Here at Amplify, we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day by having a Blog-a-thon. November 30-Dec 5, we are calling on all of you to blog here on Amplify as a part of the global movement of young people fighting this pandemic. We want you share your personal reflections about how HIV and AIDS have affected you, your thoughts to the issues and policies affecting the health of nations and regions, and your experience working towards change in your community.
So don’t forget to get on Amplify and blog for World AIDS Day!