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Though public health programs have attempted to address the needs of many marginalized youth communities, there remains a dearth of organizations able to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of Muslim youth.Young people ages 15-24 experience almost half of the nation’s sexually transmitted infections, with young people of color at vastly disproportionate risk. Each year in the United States, about 750,000 adolescent females become pregnant. Though public health programs have attempted to address the needs of many marginalized youth communities, there remains a dearth of organizations able to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of Muslim youth.

The Muslim Youth Project (MYP) was created in 2008 as a pilot project to meet the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim-identified youth. Due to stigma; cultural barriers; and post 9/11 political, social, and cultural discrimination, Muslim youth face a myriad of challenges and negative health outcomes. MYP attempts to address these disparities by providing better linkages between organizations serving Muslim youth and enhancing their programs by providing strategic capacity building services including seed grants, trainings, and technical assistance.

Through the Muslim Youth Project, organizations receive strategic capacity building assistance, including publications and materials; written and electronic correspondence; telephone consultations; on-site training; and a seed grant in the amount of $4,000 to implement an HIV/STI and teen pregnancy prevention project. Services offered through this initiative are tailored to fit the needs of the specific organizations.

PROGRAM & INITIATIVES:

  • Recruiting, training, and developing the leadership skills of Muslim youth to conduct peer education and advocacy, as well as challenge stigma and taboo in the community.
  • Developing a network of 100 youth and providers working to improve the reproductive and sexual health of Muslim youth.
  • Forming better linkages between organizations serving Muslim youth and enhancing their programs through strategic capacity-building services, including trainings and technical assistance.
  • Creating a forum for organizations that work with youth sexual and reproductive health to work together to determine the most effective ways to reach out to and serve young Muslims.
  • Providing seed grants and intensive training for Muslim youth to become leaders in their communities on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and justice.
  • Developing trainings for staff and community members to enhance programs that address the needs of Muslim youth.
  • Reducing barriers amongst providers to addressing sexual and reproductive health among Muslim youth clients.
  • Increasing awareness of the issues affecting Muslim youth on local, national, and international levels.

IMPACT & OUTCOMES

  • Young people on the frontlines working on the Muslim Youth project are at the core of Advocates’ work.
  • Advocates currently provides networking opportunities and resources and technical assistance to more than 50 youth-serving providers working with Muslim youth, assisting them to integrate culturally relevant sexual health information and services into their youth programming.
  • Muslim women trained by Advocates HEART Women and Girls in Chicago, one of Advocates’ partners, are in the process of creating a toolkit on the importance of sex education in their community. The group began a concerted effort to reach out to Muslim women and provide them with sexual and reproductive health information and resources. They also launched a blog (sistersbreakingbarriers.wordpress.com) which provides a forum for Muslim women to discuss issues of sexual and reproductive health and hosted community events to raise awareness on sexual violence in the Muslim community.
  • The Jahajee Sisters in New York City, in partnership with Advocates, hosted a Muslim Sisters’ Leadership Institute that incorporated reproductive justice and created reproductive justice public service announcements for television, Internet, and radio.
  • Advocates also worked with the MIC Women’s Health Services in Queens, New York, to recruit, train, and develop leadership skills of Muslim youth. Advocates and MIC Women’s Health collaborated with 49 Queens-based community-based organizations, 11 high schools, three colleges, and 26 mosques throughout New York to provide education on reproductive health topics, which also included family involvement and decision-making skills, to reach more than 1,000 youth.

Working together, we believe that we can strengthen efforts to address the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim youth. For more information about the Muslim Youth Project, contact Associate Director, International Youth Health and Rights at (202) 419-3420 or urooj@advocatesforyouth.org.

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