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October 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?

Advocates hosts its annual youth retreat! Advocates hosted its annual Urban Retreat training from September 17-21 for a total of 120 youth leaders from across the United States and four countries. Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council, comprised of seven young women leaders ages 19-21 who attend local universities in the Washington, DC area and have a strong interest global issues and/or international backgrounds, participated in the retreat as well as members of Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network who are implementing LGBTQ programming in Kenya, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

International Youth Leadership Council members and Advocates’ international LGBTQ activists participated in sessions on global youth sexual and reproductive health and rights trends, LGBTQ youth health and rights, US foreign policy and UN advocacy, peer education, new media, and lobbying, among others. They met with US policy makers on Capitol Hill during a lobby day to garner support for the International Human Rights Defense Act, which seeks to permanently establish a Special Envoy for LGBT rights at the State Department and coordinate US prevention and response to LGBT discrimination and violence.

International LGBT activists on lobby day

Advocates’ international LGBTQ activists also met with other US Administration officials engaged in advancing LGBTQ rights globally, including the US State Department’s first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI persons (whose position would become permanent if the International Human Rights Defense Act becomes law) and the Senior Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coordinator at the United States Agency for International Development.

Elizabeth and Preslava, Advocates’ Girl Engagement Advisory Board members, actor Ashley Judd, and Jimena from Let Girls Lead/Guatemala at the side-event hosted by Advocates for Youth, the International Center for Research on Women, and Let Girls Lead.

Advocates’ Girl Engagement Advisory Board members engage with stakeholders at the United Nations in New York and in Washington, DC. Advocates’ staff and Girl Engagement Advisory Board members, Elizabeth and Preslava from Nigeria and Bulgaria, attended the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development, which was held in New York in September. They joined roughly 20 girl activists from around the world who were there to raise girls’ voices and to talk about what the 2030 agenda means for girls’ lives. Elizabeth and Preslava presented at a well-attended side event, hosted by Advocates alongside the International Center for Research on Women and Let Girls Lead, which was moderated by actor and activist Ashely Judd. They also attended a half-day training session with other girl activists to prepare for their events and meetings. At the training, Advocates’ staff conducted a workshop on how to lobby key influencers and policymakers and helped girl activists develop “elevator speeches” about their work and their asks for Member States.

After the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, Elizabeth traveled to Washington, DC, to speak at an all-day technical meeting on tools of youth engagement in sexual and reproductive health sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development. Elizabeth discussed her leadership in advocacy for girls’ rights, education and sexual and reproductive health, the Girl Declaration, and the Our Moment Campaign. She also made recommendations to USAID and international NGOs participating in the meeting on engaging adolescent girls in development.

My Voice Counts!

URGENT: Call for Submissions: Stories by and Experiences of Young Women and Adolescent Girls Living with HIV.

Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR), in cooperation with Women Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and members of the More Than Our Status Campaign, is pleased to welcome submissions from young and passionate activists to raise awareness about the experiences of young women and girls living with HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights in their communities.

Young women and adolescent girls ages12-29 are invited to submit original writing and artwork to The Watchdog publication, which will be launched on World AIDS Day on 1st of December 2015. As well as being considered for inclusion in the upcoming YCSRR Watchdog, selected submissions may be featured on the YCSRR website and/or used during the YCSRR social media campaign during World AIDS Day. Please send your submissions to watchdog@youthcoalition.org with the subject line “HIV Watchdog Submission” no later than November 1st, 2015.

Participate in the Women’s World Summit Foundation’s 19 Days of Activism Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Violence against Children and Youth. The 19 Days Campaign is a multi-issue coalition of diverse partners using the 19 Days Campaign as an organizing strategy in the fight against at least one of the 19 abuse/violence issues presented in the list of campaign themes. To participate, you can engage by:

  • Raising public awareness of the multi-faceted problem of abuse and violence
  • Mobilizing agents for change, organizations, institutions and grassroots faith-based groups
  • Educating for better prevention measures
  • Strengthening local, national and international initiatives
  • Establishing collaboration with other campaign partners
  • Creating support at the national, regional and international level
  • Linking prevention with the Convention on the rights of the child and the UN Study on violence against children
  • Lobbying governments to implement UN Study recommendations and in particular “prioritize prevention”
  • Lobbying governments to increase investment for prevention of violence against children and youth, in particular national civil society initiatives and Child Rights organizations and advocates.

For more information and to access the campaign kit, go here.

Attention Commonwealth Countries: You can Still Check Out the Bright Ideas Campaign. The Bright Ideas Campaign is an initiative geared towards showcasing the ideas of young people from Commonwealth countries who are leading positive change in their community, country or region.

To access the tool kit for this campaign, go here.

For more information about the campaign, go here.

Attention Women’s Groups in Africa–Urgent Action Fund for Women Is Ongoing.

Urgent Action Fund-Africa is a consciously feminist and women’s human rights pan-African Fund registered in Nairobi, Kenya. Recognizing the need to move resources rapidly on a continent where opportunities arise and decline quickly, UAF-Africa uses a Rapid Response Grant making model to support unanticipated, time sensitive, innovative and unique initiatives. The Fund supports women to seize windows of opportunity that promote women’s agency in democratic governance, economic justice, natural resources governance, conflict transformation and justice processes while protecting their personhood, integrity and human rights.

To date, the Fund has supported over 700 women’s catalytic initiatives in 48 African countries. Grant applications are accepted in the 5 African Union official languages (English, French, Kiswahili, Portuguese and Arabic).

For application frequently asked questions go here.

To apply, go here.

Tools You Can Use

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 targets that aim to 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.

Onward to 2030: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals By the Guttmacher Institute. This policy brief provides an overview of the new Sustainable Development Goals as they relate to the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The brief provides a look back to the preceding Millennium Development Goals and an analysis of the new Sustainable Development Goals, targets and indicators impacting sexual and reproductive health and rights, in addition to considerations and implications for their realization in the next 15 years.

To access the brief, go here.

Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies By Call to Action Partners. This Call to Action outlines concrete steps all humanitarian stakeholders can take over the next five years to prevent gender-based violence through changes in emergency response policies, systems, and mechanisms.

Every state, donor, and organization involved in humanitarian response can have a role in the Call to Action and become a partner. Call to Action partners commit to take action to support the Call to Action Road Map outcomes, to coordinate action with one another, and to hold each other accountable to achieve these goals.

To access the document, go here.

Implementing Comprehensive HIV and STI Programs with Men Who Have Sex With Men: Practical Guidance for Collaborative Interventions By UNFPA and the United Nations Population Fund and the Global Forum on MSM & HIV.

This publication targets public-health officials and program managers, as well as NGOs and health-workers implementing HIV and STI programs with Men Who Have Sex With Men. The tool’s chapters are organized across six areas of focus: community empowerment, violence against men who have sex with men, condom and lubricant programming, health-care services, information and communication technology, and program management.

You can download it here.

Intersex fact sheet By the Free & Equal United Nations for LGBT Equality Campaign.

This fact sheet describes what intersex means and raises challenges faced by intersex people such as violation of physical integrity and discrimination. The fact sheet also provides recommendations mostly for countries as well as the media and individuals.

To access the fact sheet, go here.

Fight against genital cutting on wrong track In Science, 25 September 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6255 pp. 1446-1447. Families decide to cut their young daughters’ genitals because of private values rather than social norms, a study says, suggesting that programmes to eradicate the practice may be misguided. The study, published in Science on 25 September, was carried out in 45 schools in the state of Al Jazirah (Gezira) in southeast Sudan by economists at the University of Zurich in Switzerland with Sudanese colleagues. It challenges the prominent view that female genital cutting is a social norm that evolved as a “coordination game”.

To access the study, go here.

Coming up

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence CampaignThe year 2015 marks the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWLG) in 1991. This year’s theme is: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All! This theme focuses specifically on the relationship between militarism and the right to education in situations of violent conflict, peace, and in a variety of education settings. As recognized in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, education is a fundamental human right. Despite such recognition, the right to education is subject to political, economic, and social shifts and upheavals, leaving certain groups, especially women, girls, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants, and indigenous people, particularly vulnerable and at risk of being denied this fundamental right.

Recent data shows that approximately 38 million people are internally displaced worldwide, while 16.7 million are refugees. Girls and young women in particular are most adversely impacted by insecurity and crisis, with the recent estimates showing that 31 million girls at primary level and 34 million at lower secondary level are not enrolled in school, and 15 million girls and 10 million boys will never see the inside of a classroom.

Positioning the 16 Days Campaign from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and December 10 (Human Rights Day) rightfully stresses that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation and this year, calls specifically for making education safe for all.

You can get involved and take action!

  1. Stay tuned by visiting the campaign website here.
  2. Access this year’s campaign Take Action Kit here.
  3. Post your planned actions to the online-based 16 Days Campaign Calendar where you can share your events with other participants.
  4. Follow @16DaysCampaign and @CWGL_Rutgers on Twitter and use the hashtags #16days and #GBVteachin to participate.
  5. Reach out to community groups and organize events like skits, debates, or contests.
  6. Contact your Ministries of Finance, Women, Health, Education, Youth and Sports, and ask them to prioritize making education safe for all.
  7. Blog on www.amplifyyourvoice.org about ending gender-based violence and your right to education free of discrimination and violence.
  8. Inform yourself and others! Check out and share the above materials and Advocates’ related fact sheets on gender-based violence, located here and adolescent girls, located here.

Read All About It!

Historic new Global Goals unanimously adopted by United Nations.World leaders today 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 taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

To read this article, go here.

Ashley Judd to girls worldwide: We go from hurting to healing to helping.

When she was only 15, her friends started coming to her for advice, and she found her own information about sexual health and reproduction. Four years later, she’s a youth advocate, one of hundreds in New York to get the ear of the United Nations’ General Assembly. And one of the few to share a stage with actress Ashley Judd, a powerful advocate in her own right.

To read this article, go here.

The invention that aims to make periods less of a pain.

Even in 2015, menstruating females in Asia and Africa are shunned as unclean and have difficulty getting hold of sanitary products. A 2011 survey for the Indian government found that only 12% of women across India use sanitary pads. Others use old rags, and unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves, mattress foam and even ash to stem their monthly bleeding, with implications for their health and education. Menstruating girls in both Asia and Africa are unable to go to school during their periods, or drop out of school altogether.

To read this article, go here.

FEATURE-Marriage fears, stigma stop Gaza girls seeking mental health care.

When Maha, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl living in Gaza, visited a doctor to seek treatment for mental health problems she was told not to come back or she would likely be stigmatised for life, ruining her marriage prospects.

Despite high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression in the Palestinian territory, mental health experts say families often avoid seeking help for their daughters for fear of wrecking the family reputation and the girl’s chances of finding a husband.

To read this article, go here.

Liberia: Maternal Mortality Reduction Through Music (MMRM Wagon).

“Teenage pregnancy is a threat to this generation,” says Maternal Health Ambassador Miatta Fahnbulleh, as government and partners embark on a maternal mortality reduction campaign.

“Teenage Pregnancy has robbed a lot of my friends of the opportunity to pursue their education,” 21 year-old Hanna Dorwee remarked as she looked out the window in a downpour of rain in Kakata, Margibi County. Dorwee is a senior high student at the government-run Lango Lippaye High School in Kakata.

To read this article, go here.

Global Day of access to legal abortion launched . Save Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, on Monday launched this year’s global day of action for access to safe and legal abortion, with a call on government to fully legalize the practice (abortion).

Organized by Safe Abortion Action Fund, Global Media Foundation and Save Ghana, the launch was on the theme: “Abort the stigma, bust the myths and discrimination.”

To read this article, go here.

Chile: Extreme anti-abortion law creates climate of fear and substandard health care for women.

Chile’s draconian anti-abortion law is treating women as second-class citizens and putting their lives and health at risk, said Amnesty International amid a heated congressional debate to modify the legislation.

“Chile’s outrageous abortion ban creates a climate of fear among health professionals whose first thought is often to report a woman or a girl to the police for a suspected abortion rather than give them life-saving treatment. It creates a two-tiered health system in which women are seen as mere child-bearing vessels,” said Fernanda Doz Costa, Researcher on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Americas at Amnesty International.

To read this article, go here.

South Africa: Young Sexual Minorities Face Increased HIV Risk At University. In South Africa, young men who have sex with men are increasingly exploring their sexuality at university, without always understanding the HIV and other health risks they are taking. Yet there are few programmes and awareness campaigns address that focus on young men who have sex with men to address these issues.

To read this article, go here.

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