February 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.
Sharing Our Passion
Another Fallen, Yet We Can Catch the Next
By Kikelomo, member of the Advocates Youth Association in Abuja, Nigeria
Habbiba is a fifteen-year old girl in the city of Lagos who became pregnant to a twenty-five-year old gentleman. This was Habbiba’s first sexual encounter and she decided to do it out of pressure by her friends. This young man promised her love, money and even told her he would marry her. Habbiba grew up in a very poor home and her parents were not able to give her the support she needed. As a consequence of the pregnancy, Habbiba had to go through the shame of dropping out of school and the pain of labor at a very tender age—a reality totally beyond belief to her.
She delivered the baby but somewhere along the line, there were complications and she lost her life. They discovered that some part of the placenta was still in her womb and because no one noticed her condition in time, Habbiba died.
One might wonder, why did this happen? Why isn’t adolescent reproductive health given enough attention, when it impacts the lives of so many young people? Why don’t young women have access to proper medical care when they are pregnant and during labor?
Habbiba’s case is one out of millions all over the world. According to WHO statistics, Nigeria has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. This can be directly related to the poor state of health care facilities in this country. Inadequate antenatal care, low proportion of women attended to by skilled birth attendants, delays in treatment of complications of pregnancy, and poverty can all lead to complications and even death. All of these are problems our health institutions need to deal with to save lives and protect the future of every young woman.
Teenage pregnancy has turned so many young girls into liabilities, truants, and nuisances in our society. It has killed dreams and potentials in the lives of its victims. I find this very unfortunate because these girls are forced into motherhood that life has not prepared them for. They are confronted with challenges they had no idea about.
Habbiba in her early grave today would look back and say “Had I known…” Look around you today and tell me what you see?
Women need not die in child birth. We must give every young woman the information and support she needs to control her reproductive health, help her achieve a safe pregnancy, and care for her and her new born well into childhood. The need for improvement in the Nigerian health care systems cannot be overemphasized.
The vast majority of maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to quality family planning services, skilled care services, safe abortion services, and science-based, accurate, youth-friendly information. Fifteen percent of pregnancies and childbirths need emergency obstetric care because of risks that are difficult to predict. A working health system with skilled personnel is imperative to saving these women’s lives.
Having stated all the effects and causes of maternal health and the challenges of our health care facilities in Nigeria, I believe there is a way forward and the way is you and I. We need to arise and make our voice heard. Do something and make sure something is done about it. We desire for our world to change but really we are the change we seek. We really don’t want our grand children or even these generations to keep going through these pains.
When you turn 80 years old, would you like your children or grandchildren to ask you “Where is the Nigeria you left for us? What did you do to help?”
Food for thought!
In conclusion, maternal mortality is a major global issue that needs to be dealt with to prevent the rate at which young women die. Now, the way forward is for us as advocates to urge our governments to improve our health care facilities and services to ensure all women can undergo a safe pregnancy.
This International Women’s Day: Looking back as we Move Forward
By Abbey, member of the International Youth Leadership Council
As International Women’s Day approaches this year, I am reminded of the first time I celebrated it. Although I work now in international reproductive and sexual health, I came to Advocates for Youth from a background in domestic reproductive rights and women’s rights work. I got involved in that through working with other high school students to raise money for and attend the annual March for Women’s Lives, held in Washington, D.C. in 2004. When we got back from the march we felt so empowered that we decided to form a club at school, called the Women’s Rights Club.
By the time we got up and running, it was February 2005, my senior year of high school. One of the first things we did as a club was get together to make posters with pictures and quotes from famous women who had been our foremothers in the US Women’s rights movement. We got them approved by our school, put them up to commemorate International Women’s Day and left them up through during the entire month of March–Women’s History Month. Walking through the hallways we could see people stop to read and talk about our posters.
This International Women’s Day, it is four years later, my senior year in college. I work everyday to fight for better sexual and reproductive resources and policies for young women and men around the world, and am looking forward to dedicating myself to this cause even more in the future. I have learned that there are amazing women fighting the good fight everyday around the world, but also that there are so many more problems and obstacles that I could have ever imagined four years ago. When my college campus group discusses what to do for International Women’s Day, we are aiming for the same thing that my group in high school was; to make people stop, think, and remember the issues that plague women around the world and those that fight to solve them.
My Voice Counts!
Submit your online project for the World Summit Youth Award!
The World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) is a global contest that looks at online or mobile initiatives that raise awareness and help resolve the most pressing global issues. You’re eligible to apply for the award if you’re under 30-years-old and you have initiated and executed an online project that helps promote and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The winner will receive global recognition within the United Nations, invitations to the WSYA Winners events in Mexico, and networking contacts on a global scale. Submissions are due February 28, 2009.
For more information, click here: http://youthaward.org/.
Does HIV Look Like Me?
Hope’s Voice International has recently launched the Does HIV Look Like Me? Campaigns in South Africa and Swaziland!
Go to the new international website at www.doeshivlooklikeme.org and check out the ambassadors’ videos and print campaign images. You can also go to the home page and register for the monthly Hope report.
If you are interested in bringing a Does HIV Look Like Me? Campaign production to your country, please visit the HOST A CAMPAIGN section and/or if you’re a young person living with HIV or AIDS interested in becoming an ambassador, please visit: http://www.doeshivlooklikeme.org/southafrica/ambassador.html
If you have any questions and/or concerns, go to this page to send an email: http://www.doeshivlooklikeme.org/contact.php?emailto=info
Join an Online Community Working to End Sexual Exploitation
StopX.org is an online space for young people to share their views on the issue of sexual exploitation. This online community offers information, resources, media tools, and the opportunity to join a community of like-minded youth activists.
Visit the site here: http://www.stopx.org/.
Make Your Voice Heard for ICPD+15!
For the International Conference on Population and Development, delegations assembled in Cairo from 179 member states and from thousands of NGOs. Member states negotiated the 20-year action plan to develop a “new era of population” by 2015. The ICPD Programme of Action (also known as the Cairo Consensus) placed the individual needs of men and, especially women, as the single most important factor for governments in determining population and development policies and strategies. As such, ICPD provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national and international action to improve the situation of youth.
Since ICPD, regional review meetings have taken place every five years, including ICPD+5, ICPD+10, and this year in 2009–ICPD+15. Although information is limited on location and dates for these meetings, it is important for us to prepare our platform on ICPD and make our voice heard when the time comes!
For more information on ICPD, click here: http://www.un.org/popin/icpd2.htm
The most current link to information on meetings surrounding the regional review meetings of ICPD is here:http://www.unfpa.org/icpd/15/index.cfm. There will be updates on ICPD+15, so keep checking for more information!
On this page, you will see other, non-UN meetings described, which have +15 as an organizing piece of their agenda, including the Fifth Asia and the Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health (APCRSH) in Beijing in October 2009, and the International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD (IPCI) in Cairo also in October.
Be A Writer for the iYAN
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.
What’s Going On at Advocates for Youth?
Advocates for Youth supports U.N. General Assembly statement condemning human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
New York—On Dec. 18, 2008, the Argentine delegation to the UN read a joint statement condemning human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This was the first time a statement condemning rights abuses against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people was presented in the UN General Assembly. The final statement, which reaffirmed “the principle of non-discrimination,” that requires that “human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” had 66 countries sign on in support. Disappointingly, the United States did not sign on despite urges from U.S.-based advocacy groups to support the statement. Read the full documenthere
Syria read an opposing statement immediately following Argentina, which argued that political protection of sexual orientation and gender identity are not part of the Universal Human Rights framework. (Read the full statement here
) The United States did not sign on to the Syrian statement either.
While there is much debate internationally and cross-culturally about sexual diversity, Advocates supports all young people around the world in the safe expression of their sexual and gender identity.
If you have thoughts about sexual orientation or gender identity rights in your country or about the two statements discussed in this article,www.amplifyyourvoice.org
is the place to blog about it! If you have questions, contact Brian Ackerman, International Policy Manager at Advocates for Youth (firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocates for Youth Supports Obama’s Repeal of the Global Gag Rule
Advocates for Youth commends President Barack Obama for his decisive overturn of the Global Gag Rule and endorsement of the resumption of U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — laying the groundwork, not only for restoring global confidence in the United States, but also the health, lives and dignity of women and girls around the world. Bush-era restrictions on family planning in developing countries — where pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 — have jeopardized the world’s most critically underserved populations for far too long.
Advocates for Youth looks forward to U.S. foreign policy and a government that respects and values women and girls, recognizes the critical importance of reproductive health to global development and stability and seeks to ensure that all people are capable of achieving the highest standard of health and human rights.
Advocates for Youth supports a new direction and bold leadership in U.S. Global AIDS Policy
With the election of Barack Obama in November, 2008, advocacy groups including Advocates for Youth began to look forward to a new era of U.S. global AIDS policy in which young people’s right to sexual and reproductive health information and services would be respected. To ensure that we would realize that goal, Advocates for Youth, along with 49 other organizations, signed on to a letter addressed to then President-Elect Barack Obama to urge the new administration to appoint a new Global AIDS Coordinator.
The previous Coordinator, Ambassador Mark Dybul oversaw the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) since August of 2006. While his term as Coordinator can be credited with rapid scale up in treatment access and administration of a very large funding stream, calls for improved prevention policies, especially those for young people, were largely ignored. With the passage of new legislation last July that reauthorized $48 billion in funding for PEPFAR over the next five years, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) must draft new program guidance for implementers seeking PEPFAR funding. OGAC must have a bold and visionary leader at the helm, with demonstrated commitment to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people and other vulnerable populations to ensure that they are empowered to prevent HIV transmission by knowing about all the tools available to them. Some of those tools include abstaining from sex, having safe sex in a monogamous relationship, and using condoms correctly and consistently.
As is customary with political appointees after the change of administrations, Ambassador Dybul submitted his resignation; however, he was asked to withdraw it by the incoming Obama administration. Responding to this action by the Obama administration, Advocates for Youth issued a staunch statement urging the administration to act quickly and appoint a new Global AIDS Coordinator that is “a visionary who understands the importance of comprehensive education for youth; the integration of family planning and HIV prevention; and the urgency of addressing stigma and discrimination.” See the full release here: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/news/press/011609.htm
After the inauguration of President Obama, Ambassador Dybul was asked to re-submit his resignation. Fully recognizing the contributions that Ambassador Dybul has made to PEPFAR and the fight against global AIDS–Advocates for Youth supports this decision and looks forward to a new direction in U.S. global AIDS policy and continues to urge the new administration to appoint a bold new leader.
Have feelings or thoughts on PEPFAR? Blog about it at www.amplifyyourvoice.org
! What do you think the next five years of PEPFAR needs?
Advocates for Youth and Partners Release a New Document: Youth Leadership: Recommendations for Sustainability
We are pleased to announce a new document, entitled “Youth Leadership: Recommendations for Sustainability.”
This document was developed as an outcome of the youth campaigning consultation “Youth Organisations on the Road to Universal Access,” convened by the World AIDS Campaign in Amsterdam in January 2008. Participants at the consultation identified a need to investigate the sustainability of youth-led organisations and develop recommendations for diverse stakeholders to support sustainable youth leadership. A task force including the following organizations was formed to develop the document: Advocates for Youth; aids2031; CHOICE, for youth and sexuality; Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS; World AIDS Campaign; Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights; and Youth RISE.
“Youth Leadership: Recommendations for Sustainability” provides insights into the importance of youth-led organisations and the unique challenges that youth-led organisations face, followed by concrete recommendations on how all actors can best support and facilitate youth leadership.
To read Youth Leadership: Recommendations for Sustainability, go to:
Advocates Launches new Youth Activist website, www.amplifyyourvoice.org
On midnight on January 1st 2009, Advocates for Youth launched the new youth activist website, Amplify. Amplify is an online community dedicated to sexual health, reproductive justice, and youth-led grassroots movement building. Amplify isn’t about making the world suddenly perfect – it’s about change, about standing up for what we believe in. It’s also a place to celebrate the incredible work we’re doing around the world. And when it comes to sexual health and reproductive justice, it’s a space to share ideas and mobilize in order to make sure that the rights of young people – all young people, everywhere – are respected by those in power.
For the past several months, many of you have helped Advocates for Youth by giving us feedback on how to make this website work best for you. After all, it’s not just our website—it’s yours too!!! We also want to say a big THANK YOU for those that sent us emails with feedback, for joining our online community, and for making your voice heard by posting your own work and comments to your peers on Amplify!
For those of you who haven’t joined yet, don’t worry—there’s still time!
Read All About It
Criminalization of Homosexuality Remains a Problem in Senegal
Several men in Senegal were jailed for “indecent conduct and unnatural acts,” as homosexuality is illegal. The judge added three years to a five-year sentence, saying that men were also members of a criminal group, although many of them are a part of an organization that fights against AIDS.
Former U.S. President Clinton, says “Keep the Promise”
Despite the financial crisis, former U.S. President Clinton assures that development assistance and helping others is good foreign policy. Clinton encourages governments to “Keep the Promise,” because investments to fight AIDS and build stronger health systems can save in the long-term return.
Younger Girls Face Increased Risk Death from Pregnancy
UNICEF recently released their annual survey, “”The State of the World’s Children 2009″ with findings that show girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. South African Health Minister Barbara Hogen says, “If young girls are not in school, they are more vulnerable. It’s not just a health issue; it is about the status of young women and girls.”
Homophobia Hinders the Fight against AIDS in Latin America
In Brazil, every two or three days a person is killed based on sexual identity, says the Grupo Gay de Bahia. Although none of the countries in Latin America support legislation that criminalizes homosexuality, prejudice and discrimination remain. Stigma and homophobia persistently isolate the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (GLBTQ) community and continue to contribute to the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“There is a real contrast between reality and theory. This is the developing region of the world with the highest number of laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” says Dr. Ruben Mayorga, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Yet homophobia and transphobia persist.
Tools You Can Use
Learn how theatre can be a form of expression AND education for youth!
Theatre-Based Techniques for Youth Peer Education: A Training Manual
is a 100-page training manual that provides an overview of using theater in health education. It contains four peer theater training workshops, a series of theater games and exercises that can be used in trainings, and information on developing and building a peer theater program. A collaboration between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Family Health International, this tool was produced for the Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), a project coordinated by UNFPA.
You can download the training manual in four separate PDF files, for ease of downloading here: http://www.fhi.org/en/Youth/YouthNet/Publications/peeredtoolkit/TheaterTraining.htm
The Reproductive Rights of Adolescents: A Tool for Health and Empowerment
This briefing paper from the Center for Reproductive Rights provides a framework for adolescents’ reproductive and sexual rights, and discusses governments’ legal duties to address these rights. Topics addressed include: sexuality education; access to confidential health care; child marriage and lack of educational opportunity; sexual violence; and female genital mutilation (FGM).
For more information, click here:
New Peer Education Manual for Adolescents in the Caribbean
Family Care International (FCI) is pleased to announce the release of a new peer education manual for adolescents in the English- speaking Caribbean, produced by FCI in conjunction with UNFPA Jamaica, and the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
You, Your Life, Your Dreams – A Book for Caribbean Adolescents is an important educational resource for young people and for program staff in government ministries, youth clubs, family planning agencies, and other organizations that work with young people. Easy to read and visually attractive, it provides accessible, objective, and urgently-needed information on a broad range of issues that matter to adolescents, empowering them to make informed decisions about their sexual lives and reproductive health. Originally developed by FCI for use in English- speaking Africa and now available in four languages, You, Your Life, Your Dreams was extensively adapted to reflect both the unique challenges facing young people in Caribbean nations and the sub-region’s rich multi-ethnic culture.
You, Your Life, Your Dreams can be downloaded at www.familycareintl.org, in the following editions: English- speaking Africa (2000), French (2003), Spanish (2007), English-speaking Caribbean (2008).
For more information, please contact:
Family Care International
588 Broadway, Suite 503
New York, NY 10012, USA
Tel. +1 2129415300
Fax. +1 212.941.5563
FCI is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer around the world. Recipient of the 2008 United Nations Population Award.
International Women’s Day: March 8th
Putting women and women’s right to equality on the global agenda is the moving force behind International Women’s Day. In December 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
Since those early years, much progress has been made for women in developed and developing countries alike. In many countries, provisions guaranteeing the enjoyment of human rights without discrimination on the basis of sex have been included in constitutions. Legal literacy and other measures have been introduced to alert women to their rights and to ensure their access to those rights; the world community has identified violence against women as a clear violation of women’s rights; and the United Nations and many member states have prioritized and incorporated gender perspectives into regular programs and policies.
Although much remains to be done to achieve full equality, the voices of women are being heard. March 8th provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the achievements of women and to highlight the needs and concerns of women on community, national, regional and global agendas.
Here are some ideas of what you can do on International Women’s Day!
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!