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September 2010 iYAN Newsletter

September iYAN

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

Is it too much to ask?
By Kike, Nigeria

Has it ever dawned on you that every minute, a woman dies in childbirth? Do you know what that means? EVERY MINUTE!

Did you know that every day, 6,800 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS; almost half are under the age of 25,and 60 percent of those who are infected are women or girls?

In many countries, women are the primary providers for their families, not only taking care of the household but also working outside the home. Yet many do not enjoy basic human rights, including freedom from violence, the right to education, the right to own land or property or the right to decide who or when to marry – and reliable access to quality health care.

It is so sad that in this age where development has evolved, women are still suffering greatly in getting access to family planning and adequate help during pregnancy and during childbirth. Why should a woman die giving life?

In Nigeria, the health care systems need a major overhaul. Young people do not have access to adequate health care services and reproductive health information. Even though the government claims that youth centers exist, young people cannot access them and they definitely cannot afford to use a public health facility.

I have had the privilege to interview young teenage girls on how they access and use health care services. It’s unsurprising they all confirmed that they cannot afford to go to a health facility for treatment but would rather visit traditional healers or take self medications that endanger their lives. Even though they use these medications, they don’t believe in their potency and just use them since they are readily available and cheap. Isn’t access to health care services and information a fundamental human right in line with the International Conference on Population and Development Platform of Action, which was signed by Nigeria?

If my parents did not work for the government and could not afford to pay my hospital bills, I could not access any youth friendly health centers or get health care services. Shouldn’t there be some form of health insurance for young people, particularly young women?

In fact, if we had health insurance for young people in Nigeria, then I could probably get a pap smear done for cervical cancer screening, get my breasts examined for breast cancer, or get a general medical check-up – all things that I don’t have access to under my parents’ insurance. Other youths could freely seek the help and information that they need as well. Young women who become pregnant could have adequate prenatal care and care during labor, saving thousands of lives.

Youth friendly, accessible, reliable services are not only a human right, but an urgent necessity to save the health and lives of Nigeria’s young women.

What’s New at Advocates for Youth?

Blogs from International Youth Week

From August 8-14, Amplify hosted its FIRST International Youth Day Blog-a-thon to commemorate International Youth Day AND the launch of the International Year of Youth, which runs from August 12, 2010 through August 11, 2011!

Young people internationally posted blogs in light of this year’s theme for International Youth Day, “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.”

Here are some featured posts from the blog-a-thon:

“Young People: Builders of Nations”

“Our Voice Needs to Be Heard” http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Chidex/2010/8/13/OUR-VOICE-NEEDS-TO-BE-HEARD

International Youth Year…let’s make the most of it!!

It’s our voice, it has to be heard our own way!

Our year, our voice!

Introducing Advocates’ New International Youth Leadership Council!

The International Youth Leadership Council was formed in October 2000 as a project of Advocates for Youth. It is composed of young people in the United States with family ties to and interest in the developing world. These youth leaders work with the staff of the International Division to increase U.S. support for young people’s sexual and reproductive health, especially for international family planning and the fight against global HIV and AIDS.

Council members organize campus events to educate their peers about U.S. foreign policy on reproductive health; raise the visibility of global youth sexual and reproductive health within new and traditional media; lobby U.S. policy makers; and attend conferences to advance a youth agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

To get to know members of this year’s youth council, read more about them below:

Liz is an International Studies major at American University. She is passionate about improving young people’s access to good quality and medically accurate information about their sexual reproductive health and rights.
Maritza is a Biological Anthropology major at the George Washington University. Maritza is a member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign at her university and is dedicating to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness on her campus and around the general Washington DC area.
Olaide is a Public and Community Health major at University of Maryland. Olaide is a volunteer at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and aims to be an advocate for not only education on health issues, but also for educating our youth.
Richael is an International Health major at Georgetown University. Richael is a strong supporter of Plan A, which is a recent initiative started by Georgetown University students to encourage the Georgetown administration to adopt a comprehensive sexual health plan, including the distribution of condoms at the Student Health center as well as Plan B (emergency contraception in the U.S.).
Meron is a History major at the University of Maryland College Park. Meron is president of Ethiopian Students Association at the University of Maryland, through which she helped organize forums on sexual orientation, sexual health, fistula, abortion rights, and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.
Falin is a Finance and Pre-Medical focus major at the University of Maryland College Park. Falin is currently a youth leader at the Bochasan Akshar Purshottam Sanstha. As a youth leader he is responsible for leading various youth seminars and forums discussing issues ranging from philosophy to underage drinking for youth between the ages of 13 and 22.
Ben is an International Affairs and Public Health major at the George Washington University. Ben is currently the Social Coordinator for The International Affairs Society. He uses his role as executive board member to raise the profile of global health.
Laurel is an International Health major and an International Development minor at Georgetown University. Laurel was an intern with the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong where she received first-hand reports of human rights violations from NGOs in South Asia, wrote urgent appeals, and reported the violations to the appropriate authorities.
Sarah is an International Development major and Health Promotion minor at American University. Sarah worked in the Department of Health and HIV/AIDS of Africare, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of Africa. During her time at Africare she conducted research on HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other epidemics.
Sesen is a Biological Anthropology major at the George Washington University. Sesen is a member of the Black Women’s Forum e-board, which over the past year, focused on creating awareness among minority college women of their reproductive health.

Six Youth Journalists Selected for Advocates’ International Year of Youth Reporting Initiative

First, thanks to all the iYAN members who applied to become one of Advocates for Youth’s international year of youth reporters, in commemoration of the International Year of Youth that runs from August 12 thru August 11, 2010.

We received many applications from youth activists from all over the world and only six could be selected.

The six youth writers will participate in a training hosted by Advocates for Youth in in Washington, DC, focused on blogging skills, new media, and youth global sexual and reproductive health and rights issues and policies. During the International Year of Youth, the youth writers will regularly post blogs on amplifyyourvoice.org and travel to international conferences to report daily on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights issues.

Congratulations to:
Jaevion of Jamaica
Taongo of Zambia
Abongwa of Cameroon
Leo of the Philippines
Roli of India
Nana of Ghana
Stay tuned for future opportunities to work with Advocates for Youth…or go ahead and blog on your own to Amplify. Just join at www.amplifyyourvoice.org
Contact mimi@advocatesforyouth.org with any questions.
Read All About It

US Members of Congress Accuse Obama in Kenya’s Abortion Debate

As Kenya prepares for elections this year, a provision on abortion in the draft constitution continues to be a source of tremendous debate. Currently, the provision allows a health professional to perform an abortion if the women’s health or life is in danger. Although the provision remains restrictive, religious leaders and anti-choice activists continue to raise the issue. At the same time, members of the U.S. Congress, New Jersey Representative Chris Smith and two other House Republicans falsely accused the Obama administration of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on the “yes” campaign—a campaign to change Kenya’s restrictive abortion law through referendum.

To read more, click here: Vote in Kenya: Why U.S. Abortion Debate Has Become a Factor

Annie Lenox Campaigns with a Positive Message about HIV/AIDS

Singer-songwriter and UNAIDS ambassador, Annie Lennox, brings attention to the issues of HIV/AIDS by wearing a black shirt that says “HIV Positive” to share solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS all over the world. She was first inspired by Mandela’s foundation to fight HIV/AIDS at a time when South Africa was losing approximately 1,000 people a day to AIDS, many of them women and children.

To read more, click here: Positive message about HIV/AIDS <http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/05/lennox.hiv.positive.tshirt/>

New Research Shows Birth Control Pills are Effective Regardless of Weight

A new study from the Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons says that prevention of ovulation was “substantial and comparable” among consistent users of birth control pills, regardless of their weight. Westhoff, researcher of the study said, “As a physician, I’m relieved by the results of this study. When I prescribe oral contraceptives to my patients with obesity, I can feel confident that I am giving them something that will work.

To read more, click here: Birth Control Pills Effective for Women of All Sizes

Gay Rights Takes it Global

U.S. judge Vaughn R. Walker, in his decision overturning California’s Proposition 8 (which outlawed same-sex marriage), said attitudes about homosexuality are changing globally and perceptions that homosexuality harms children, defies biblical teachings or destroys the fabric of society are waning. Research indicates that young people are beginning to see sexual orientation as a “benign variation” where the difference is simply not interesting.

To read more, click here: Shifting attitudes take gay rights fight across globe, experts say

My Voice Counts!

Not on Amplify? Join Now!
Have you heard about Amplify but don’t know exactly what it is? One of Advocates for Youth’s main strategies is the use of new media technologies to empower young people to access information, share perspectives, connect to peers and services, and take action on issues that they care about..

Advocates communicates with its domestic and international networks of young people regularly via Amplify (www.amplifyyourvoice.org), a groundbreaking global Web site for young people working to improve youth sexual and reproductive and rights.

Thanks to many of you, Amplify–launched in January 2009, during its first year alone, hosted 370,000 visitors. The site is rapidly growing in popularity, with 450,000 visitors already in 2010.

Through the site, young activists blog, share stories, reach out to policy makers, write op-eds, and organize on-the-ground activism.

Amplify allows registered users to automatically stream their activities on Amplify to Facebook, so that a young person writing a blog about international family planning can share it instantly with hundreds of his/her friends. Amplify has been instrumental during the past year in successfully launching a campaign in favor of increased international family planning funding and in building Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network of more than 800 young people and youth-led/serving organizations around the globe.

You probably already know, but POWER comes with you as leaders who want to make a difference.

So, if you’re not already on Amplify, JOIN!

If you know people who are interested, get THEM to JOIN!

Blogging is fun, easy, and you can AMPLIFY your OWN voice by giving it a try!

Go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org and make your voice heard!

Submit an essay and get a free Advocates for Youth notebook!
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! If you are one of the FIRST 10 iYAN members to submit an essay that follows the guidelines below, you will WIN a blue Advocates for Youth notebook and pen (to write more essays, of course!).
Here are the guidelines for writing an essay:
Keep your essay to no more than 500 words.
Use language that is simple and easy for non-native English speakers to read.
Write about sexual and reproductive issues that you care about and/or what you are doing to make a difference.
Also, please note that:
· If you have a photo that you would like us to include with your essay, please send it via email.
· 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 essay, 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 already submitted an essay, you can still send others for upcoming issues of the newsletter.
· You will receive an email before the next iYAN letting you know if you are one of the first 10 people to submit an essay.
If you have questions on how to submit your essay, please contact Mimi at
mimi@advocatesforyouth.org. Do it soon!! You could be one of the first 10!

Tools You Can Use

New Fact Sheet: Making the Links: Young People, HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

The World AIDS Campaign, YouAct, and Youth Action Nepal have recently developed a new fact sheet, “Making the Links, Young People, HIV, and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.” Versions in Spanish, French, Mandarin, Portugese, and Russian will be online soon.

To download the resources, click here: at http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/Constituencies/Youth/Resources/Fact-Sheet-HIV-and-SRHR

If you want to translate this document into another language, please feel free to contact me at mianl@worldaidscampaign.org.

New Fact Sheets on the Linkages between Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Millenium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed upon by world governments in 2000, have set the priorities for international development for the past decade. Ten years have passed since the MDG targets were set, and yet there is still much left to be done on young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.The Youth Coalition addresses some of these issues in three new factsheets that highlight the linkages between young people’s sexual and reproductive rights and the MDGs, as they relate to HIV, maternal health and comprehensive sexuality education. These factsheets discuss the MDGs from a youth perspective and are a useful tool for advocacy leading-up to the ten-year review of the Millennium Development Goals.

The fact sheets are available here: http://www.youthcoalition.org/site08/html/index.php?id_art=286&id_cat=7

World Mental Health Day, October 10
World Mental Health Day is held annually on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The Day promotes more open discussion of mental illnesses and investments in prevention and treatment services. WHO statistics for 2002 show that 154 million people globally suffer from depression alone– only one form of mental illness.

Mental, neurological and behavioral disorders are common in all countries around the world, causing immense suffering and staggering economic and social costs. People with disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life, and higher death rates.
While working on youth sexual and reproductive health issues, it’s vital to recognize the importance of mental health and ensuring mechanisms to provide support and referrals to young people where needed.

Here’s A Tool You Can Use for Mental Health Day:
Counseling skills training in adolescent sexuality and reproductive health, by the World Health Organization (WHO)
Here’s a facilitator’s guide that can help train counselors who work with young people. The guide outlines a five-day workshop with the purpose of strengthening the knowledge and skills of adults who counsel adolescents. Participants become familiar with the topics of adolescent sexuality and reproductive health. Emphasis is placed on interpersonal communication and listening skills.

The principles of non-directive counseling are introduced. This approach aims to facilitate the young client’s overall development by strengthening self-understanding and enhancing their ability to deal personally with present problems and prevent future difficulties.

Click here: http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/documents/adh_93_3/en/
To learn more about mental health, click here:
-More about mental health
– More about World Mental Health Day
– World Federation for Mental Health site
– Go Ask Alice, a site focused on health issues, including mental health and reproductive and sexual health: www.goaskalice.columbia.edu

You can also learn about different issues that affect our mental health:
Learn about developing a healthy body image
Gender and Stereotypes
Sex and Our Culture

Advocates for Youth has a form to sign-up for the iYAN on our website. Send this link to your friends so they can sign-up too!

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