By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver
Last week, the Washington DC YouthForce convened nearly 200 young people prior to the International AIDS Conference. Participants gathered at Gallaudet University from July 18 – 20 with hopes of meeting new people, sharpening skills and preparing for meaningful youth participation during the conference.
At the end of three days of workshops, plenaries, trainings, sessions, video screenings, home-group meetings, pizza parties, music & dance events and more, there were several positive outcomes and key highlights. Not only are young participants now geared up for the week, prepared with technical skills, new relationships and energy; they also developed a crowd-sourced Declaration for Change in its final editing stages by the time the pre-conference ended.
Concurrent Session Day 1
I attended a session entitled “Guidelines for Debate: Responding to HIV from a youth and gender sensitive approach,” facilitated by Cecelia Garcia from Espolea. The session encouraged participants to confront some assumptions they might have about a youth and gender perspective, as well as the way that societal norms shape these perspectives.
By the end of the session, participants were asking some key questions:
• How can we use these guidelines to design, implement and evaluate HIV policies?
• How can we use these perspectives to challenge current policies and programs that don’t respond to the needs of young people, especially young women?
• If we don’t have a comprehensive youth- and gender-perspective, what sort of power dynamics within and among key affected populations continue to be reproduced in the global HIV response?
These critical questions will be helpful as participants go through the Main Conference.
Concurrent Session Day 2
Caitlin Chandler of HIV Young Leaders Fund and Jaevion Nelson from the Jamaica Youth Action Network gave a comprehensive history of HIV funding and its allocation at the national, regional and international level. By highlighting the fact donor governments disbursed US$76B in 2011 for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries, participants were given a critical look at where the funds are going and why. They also identified key challenges for youth in accessing fund by highlighting the politics, central decision-makers and dynamics of funding for in the global HIV response.
Participants were split into groups to discuss ways that youth can more meaningfully engage with funders at the foundation/multilateral level, the government level and the private donor level. Discussions focused on what needs to change for young people, how young people can help create this change, and what the critical enablers are in this paradigm shift. By understanding economic power, young people can toward a more equitable HIV response that meets the needs of young people most affected by HIV.
Stakeholders Forum, Day 3
This plenary forum convened five speakers to discuss the important role of young people in the HIV response and ways that stakeholders can meaningfully partner with youth leaders and organizations.
• Dr. Mary Otieno, Senior Technical Advisor for HIV/AIDS and Young People at UNFPA
• Michael O’Connor, Manager of Civil Society and Private Partnership at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
• Dr. Aaron Lopata, Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of National AIDS Policy
• David Haroz, Senior Policy Advisor for Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator
• Leo Christian Villacortes Lauzon with Advocates for Youth
After responding to questions by moderators about how their organizations, agencies and offices could more meaningfully engage young people and foster youth leadership within the HIV response, participants could ask questions live and on Twitter. Then, panelist was asked to provide a Tweet-able commitments to youth.
To follow the YouthForce during the AIDS Conference, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and read their blog.
To read further reports about the YouthForce and Youth Pre-Conference, click here and here.
IAC 2012 – Youth Pre-Conference Report
July 23rd, 2012
By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver