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November 2015 iYAN Newsletter


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?

AdvocatesCelebrates International Day of the Girl. Advocates’staff and Girl Engagement Advisory Board member Caren from Kenya participated inUNICEF’s event in honor of International Day of the Girl, held in New York City. Caren spoke at the event, entitled The Power of the Adolescent Girl:Vision for 2030. She specifically discussed the challenges facing adolescent girls when it comes to having their periods and shared the work that she is doing to provide out-of-school adolescent girls in rural Kenya with sexuality education, including information about puberty and feminine hygiene management.

After the International Day of the Girl event, Caren traveled to Washington, DC, where she and Advocates’ staff met with Ambassador Catherine Russell,U.S. Ambassador-at-Large at the United States State Department. During the meeting, Ambassador Russell asked Caren about the challenges facing girls with regard to accessing education and staying in school. Caren shared her perspectives about barriers such as cost, transportation, and lack of information about sexual and reproductive health and menstruation management.

My Voice Counts!

Futures Without Violence and the and the Avon Foundation for Women are pleased to announce the 2015 Avon Communications Awards for Excellence totaling $25,000 in new grants that recognize communications campaigns focused on ending violence against women and children and showcase innovation and best practices.

Applying is easy—organizations simply upload their communications materials in any medium to the Communications X-CHANGE by January 31, 2015 to be eligible for one of five $5,000 grants. An international panel of judges reviews the submissions and the awards are announced in March 2015, timed to International Women’s Day. (For more information please visit the X-CHANGE)

Since the Communications X-Change launched on November 25th, 2012, to observe the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and the 16 Days Campaign, there have been hundreds of contributions to the X-CHANGE. Currently, it hosts nearly 1,000 materials, from over 300 organizations representing 81 countries. The X-Change provides a tool box for grass roots NGOs to the halls of academia and government.

Coming up

World AIDS Day, December 1, 2015.

Each year, December 1 marks World AIDS Day, when activists around the world come together to raise awareness of the global HIV epidemic, fight stigma and discrimination, and advocate for increased efforts to support HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

With UNAIDS’ multi-year Getting to Zero strategy culminating this year, there has been significant progress but much work remains to be done. While there have been important declines in HIV prevalence among young people in some of the most affected countries, there are still significant gaps in prevention and treatment for young people, including adolescents.

Adolescents, in fact, are the only age group among which AIDS-related deaths are actually increasing. AIDS-related illnesses are the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10–19 years globally, and the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa. Further, in 2013, there were an estimated 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV, more than 80% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Many still do not know their status. Almost two thirds of the 250, 000 new infections among 15–19 year olds in 2013 were among adolescent girls.

In response, a year ago at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, global leaders committed to take action towards ending the AIDS epidemic among adolescents. Leaders pledged their support to reduce new HIV infections among adolescents by at least 75% and increase HIV treatment to reach at least 80% of adolescents living with the virus. Meanwhile, this year, with the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, world leaders committed to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

UNAIDS has also released its new 2016-2021 strategy. If you are looking for campaign materials to support the strategy as part of your World AIDS Day events, you can check out the UNAIDS On the Fast Track to End AIDS campaign materials here.

You can also check out the latest UNAIDS report that makes the case for a fast-track approach to end the epidemic by 2030 here.

And don’t forget the difference that you can make in your own communities and by speaking out. Here are some things that you can do to mobilize on World AIDS Day:

  1. Reach out to community groups and organize events like skits, debates, or contests to raise awareness of the importance of HIV/AIDS and ensuring that adolescents have the information and services that they need to prevent HIV, get tested, and get treatment and support.
  2. Mobilize others to take action and advocate for changes in local or national level policies in support of comprehensive sexuality education; access to condoms, HIV testing, treatment and support; and elimination of stigma and discrimination.
  3. Blog on www.amplifyyourvoice.org about what the day means to you, challenges facing young people in your community, and how you think these could be addressed.
  4. Share the resources above with friends and colleagues—spread the world about World AIDS Day and the need to prioritize young people to end the epidemic.

Tools You Can Use

On the Fast Track to End AIDS: The UNAIDS 2016–2021 Strategy By UNAIDS. This is one of the first in the United Nations system to be aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, which set the framework for global development policy over the next 15 years, including ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

With a universal agenda, firmly grounded in evidence and rights-based approaches, the strategy maps out the UNAIDS Fast-Track approach to accelerate the AIDS response over the next five years to reach critical HIV prevention and treatment targets and achieve zero discrimination. Members of the Board from across all regions called the strategy bold, ambitious, yet achievable, and praised the highly inclusive and consultative process to develop it. Read the article here.

Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 By the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division. This report offers global updated data on maternal mortality for the years 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2015. report finds that maternal deaths around the world dropped from about 532,000 in 1990 to an estimated 303,000 this year. This equates to an estimated global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 216 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 385 in 1990.Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 Target 5A called for the reduction of maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. Progress is uneven, however, with only 9 countries achieving the MDG 5A target, for example, some of which still have higher than average maternal mortality ratio. Executive summary | Full report

Sierra Leone: Shamed and Blamed: Pregnant Girls’ rights at risk in Sierra Leone By Amnesty International. In April 2015 the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning pregnant girls from mainstream education. The exclusion of pregnant girls from mainstream education and from sitting exams is a violation of their right to education and a discriminatory measure which reinforces negative stereotypes about girls. Enforcement of the ban was immediate and was done through searches and physical examination of girls. Threatening their physical integrity and privacy Despite the establishment by the government with the support of some international donors of an alternative “bridging “ education system that would allow pregnant girls to continue going to school, there are still concerns about the human rights of the girls. Mainly for their lack of choice in attending one system or the other, their inability to take exams and the persistent stigmatisation of the ban. Read the article here.

The Incidence of Abortion in Nigeria By the Guttmacher Institute in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Volume 41, Number 1, December 2015. This article describes efforts to estimate the incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy in Nigeria using nationally representative samples. Results are provided, including estimates of induced abortion, unintended pregnancy, the number of women accessing post-abortion care, and the number of women experiencing serious health complications who go untreated. Read the article here.

Assessing youth-friendly-health-services and supporting planning in the Republic of Moldova By Susanne Carai1*, Stela Bivol2 and Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli3 in Reproductive Health 2015, 12:98. Many countries have set up youth-friendly-health-services. This study seeks to share strategies and results an external evaluation of youth-friendly-health-services in Moldova. Read the article here.

The Evaluation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education Programmes: A Focus on the Gender and Empowerment Outcomes By UNFPA, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Repeated evaluations have demonstrated that comprehensive sexuality education does not foster earlier sexual debut or unsafe sexual activity. Additionally, recent research demonstrates that gender norms are a “gateway factor” for a range of adolescent health outcomes. This report offers an extensive review and analysis of a wide range of evaluation studies of different comprehensive sexuality education programs, at different stages of development and from different contexts and setting across the globe. It provides information on new methodologies, available questionnaires, and instruments that can be used to measure the gender empowerment outcome of comprehensive sexuality education programs. Read the article here.

Check it out if you haven’t already—the tool kits and other resources for the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. World leaders unanimously adopted a historic set of global goals on eliminating poverty, achieving gender equality, and securing health and well-being for all people, at the opening of the three-day Sustainable Development Summit, which took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 25-27.

The new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, include 17 goals and 169 targetsthat aimto transform the world over the next 15 years by addressing poverty, hunger, gender inequality, preventable deaths and environmental degradation.

Read the actual resolution, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that was adopted here.

Access tool kits and other supporting resources for organizations, educators, media, faith leaders, parents, and others here.

For lesson plans on the Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, go here.

Read All About It!

Maternal mortality falls by almost 50% – UN report. Around 303,000 women died of complications during pregnancy or up to six weeks after giving birth in 2015 – down from 532,000 in 1990.

Officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the results showed “huge progress”. To read this article, go here.

Youths voice right to sexual, reproductive health (Indonesia). Youths have called for broader access to sexual and reproductive health care to make them less vulnerable to abuse, especially in the areas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing.

Bahaluddin Surya of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI) said many young people in areas across the country faced barriers to sexual and reproductive health information and care, putting them at a higher risk of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections. To read this article, go here.

Uganda: Young people need access to quality family planning services. NdaulaHamidu, 24, was born with HIV and is now an advocate for sexual and reproductive rights and services, including family planning – issues he says concern young men as well as young women.

“Having access to friendly services has helped me live positively and happily, and helped me serve as an example to my fellow people,” said Hamidu, from Bugiri district, Uganda. “At the beginning, accessing services was difficult but it has become possible after knowing my rights.” To read this article, go here.

Stigma deters young people from accessing contraception in Nigeria. Many young people have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, making it hard for them to access family planning and HIV services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) around 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception. This puts them at greater risk of unplanned pregnancies and potentially HIV. To read this article, go here.

Gambia: UN Calls for Banning of FGM, Child Marriage in Gambia. The United Nations System in The Gambia, as part of celebrations marking UN Day 2015, has called for the enactment of laws banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in The Gambia.

The call was made by the UN resident coordinator Ade MomonyaneLekoetje on Tuesday at a local hotel in Kololi, where all the UN agencies in The Gambia gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the global body under the theme: “Building Tomorrow’s UN Today”. To read this article, go here.

Guatemala bans child marriage, big change for rural areas. Guatemala has raised the minimum age for marriage to 18, but women’s rights campaigners said enforcing the new law would be a challenge in a country where nearly one-third of girls are currently married by that age.

The law, approved by Congress earlier this month by 87 votes to 15, raised the minimum marriage age from 14 for girls and 16 for boys, but said 16-year-old girls would still be able to marry with a judge’s permission under some circumstances. To read this article, go here.

Hundreds of Chilean same-sex couples eagerly await legalization of civil unions. Hundreds of same-sex couples in Chile will head to registry offices this week to celebrate civil unions, which will become legal for the first time in the country on Thursday.

Although the Catholic church is a powerful influence in the region, Latin America has been relatively quick to embrace the recognition of same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in recent years in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and some parts of Mexico. To read this article, go here.

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