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Youth Advocates: 10 Ways to Take Action Right Now

With only a few days left until the New Year, it’s easy to feel like 2010 is already over. But it’s not too late to do something this month! Read our recap of the Top 10 Maternal Health Highlights in 2010 to celebrate all the hard work and successes of the year. Then, check out these opportunities below to keep your momentum going:

1. Tell Us: What Have You Been Working On?

It’s been six months since the Women Deliver 2010 conference. What we want to know is: Six months after Women Deliver, what have you been working on? Have you incorporated maternal health knowledge and issues into your work? Have you achieved any goals you set for yourself at the conference? TELL US EVERYTHING! Here’s what some of our 100 Young Leaders have already said:

•    Robert Mukondiwa, Zimbabwe: I have managed back home to reign in the knowledge and pass it on, being a guest speaker at a UNICEF and Zimbabwe Union of Journalists organized forum… What that means to me is that I went as one leader from Zimbabwe, but I have managed to make [other] leaders out of my priceless participation and wonderful lessons learned… and this is only the beginning!

•    Ernestine Greaves, Liberia: A few weeks after my return, Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the University I attended as part of her efforts in being in touch with the youths of Liberia. I had the opportunity to ask her 2 questions and one of them were styled (advocacy) and based on what we learned from the youth pre-conference. Q. What is the Liberian government doing to improve maternal health in order to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Liberia and you being a woman what are your personal efforts in achieving this? I also had the opportunity to share my learning experience with some youths in my country; I worked with an organization called Paramount Young Women Initiative, to do a one day workshop with teen age girls on sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people and advocacy as a tool for achieving what we need.

•    Francois Zoungrana, Burkina Faso: I have been able to build a Youth Coordination for Safe Motherhood in Burkina Faso since last October.

•    Tsiaro Raharison, Madagascar: Lately, our organization built the first « Réseau des Femmes artisanes de la paix à Madagascar », which is a network of Malagasy women engaged in settling and maintaining peace in Madagascar after building their capacity. Apart from that, I participate in the Oxfam International Youth Partnership 3 years program, an initiative which enables young people to develop their full potential to become the drivers of development for our own sake and for the sake of our community’s future. It started with the Kaleidoscope, a face to face event between action partners, mentors & motivators and facilitators in New Delhi, India last 21st to 29 November 2010. One of the major issues highlighted during this event is to promoting gender equality and empowering women. This program obviously provides me a rich inner strength and deepens knowledge on what I have acquired during the Women Deliver Conference.

•    Liesl Harewood, Barbados: MDG5 and maternal health issues were never my strength so I used the conference as a learning experience. I have since been involved with a UNFPA project on sex workers here in the Caribbean.

•    Pawan Roy, Nepal: After my participation in the Women Deliver Conference – my engagement in advocating and improving the health services especially promoting youth friendly services is one of the major achievement so far.

•    Adeolu Ogunrombi, Nigeria: After the conference I was able to continue my empowerment program for adolescent girls, especially in rural areas. The girls are equipped with information on SRHR and skills to advocate for their rights within their communities... It is important to say that my professional ally… has been consistently supporting me in the whole process. Our slogan has been: Safe motherhood can only be achieved when adolescent girls are also healthy.

2. Become a UNFPA Special Youth Fellow

The Special Youth Programme fellowship consists of an initial 4 months fellowship at UNFPA Headquarters or Regional Offices, followed by a continued fellowship of another 4 months in a UNFPA Country Office. This programme is designed to give young people from developing countries opportunities to engage in policy development and programming; to help build the capacity of young people; and to sensitize young people and UNFPA staff on jointly addressing young people’s issues. You must be between the ages of 20-24, and have residence and nationality of a developing country.

The vacancy for the programme will open on 4 January and the deadline for applications will be 20 January. Please feel free to email youth@unfpa.org if you have any questions. Learn more on their Facebook page.

3. Read a Report Written by Young People

Young people in the South Asia Regional Youth Network (SARYN) of IPPF have written two MDG5b shadow reports – one on Bangladesh and the other on Nepal. Learn more about MDG5b and advocating for universal access to reproductive health.

4. Register to Attend a UN Event

The 8th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations will take place January 20-21, 2011.The Youth Assembly is a two-day intensive program featuring guest speakers, seminars, and global youth exchange. Who can apply to attend? Anyone, between the ages of 16-25, who is seeking information on ways to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, networking with global youth leaders, practical information on NGO development and skills of social entrepreneurship in support of ‘better world’ activities. Registration is open until January 3, 2011. Want to learn more about this event? Click here.

5. Download a New Curriculum on Sex and HIV Education

Abundant evidence shows that young people's attitudes about gender and human rights affect their risk of HIV infection, unintended pregnancy, and intimate partner violence. Education can change people's attitudes, but programs and educators need practical tools for integrating gender and rights issues into their curricula. To help sex/HIV education programs incorporate gender and rights issues into their curricula, the Population Council has published an exciting new resource--It's All One Curriculum. Developed in collaboration with an international expert working group, this resource is available in English at no cost at www.itsallone.org. Spanish and French translations will be posted online in shortly.

6. Engage Parliamentarians on Maternal Health, Focus on Asia-Pacific Region

The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) announced the launch of a groundbreaking new publication, “Maternal Health - An Advocacy Guide for Parliamentarians." Focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, this resource functions as a guidebook with practical steps Parliamentarians can take, on multiple levels, to raise awareness and advocate for maternal and child health. Share this guide with your government representatives

In addition, AFPPD organized a workshop, “Young Parliamentarians’ Consultation on ICPD Issues,” in cooperation with UNFPA and the Government of Japan, from November 27-28. At this workshop, young parliamentarians in the Asia Pacific region committed to fight for reproductive health rights, HIV/AIDS, mother and child rights and other contemporary population challenges.  Hailing from 14 different countries in the region, approximately 40 young parliamentarians (defined as 35 years of age or younger) were joined by UN representatives and experts from the field of population and development.

According Ms. Nobuko Horibe, Regional Director of UNFPA Asia and the Pacific “young people, particularly those living in poverty, have been virtually ignored in policies and programmes and … this period of their lives is a critical transition between childhood and taking on adult responsibilities.”

7. Talk it Out: Share Lessons on Youth Peer Education

The Interagency Youth Working Group's (IYWG) just released a new publication, "Evidence-Based Guidelines for Youth Peer Education," that gives practical guidance on a range of issues important to developing and sustaining successful youth peer education programs. The publication focuses on peers working with young people to improve their sexual and reproductive health. To help get the word out about this important new tool, facilitate its use, and provide a space to share your experiences in youth peer education, the IYWG is hosting a three-day online forum to launch the new Guidelines this winter. Experts from Y-PEER, IntraHealth, and the Bulgaria National Center of Public Health will be available to respond to your questions and comments regarding the six major guideline areas, as well as the cross-cutting issue of gender. The forum will focus on the application of the Guidelines, and participants will have the chance to receive practical advice tailored to their programs from individuals with years of experience in youth peer education programs all over the world. Plus, participants can engage with one another to share challenges and lessons learned from the field.

From January 11th to the 13th, you'll have the opportunity to get your questions answered by one of the experts and share your experiences with colleagues working in peer education. To sign up for the online forum, click here.

8. Win a Trip with Nick Kristof

The 2011 Win a Trip contest with New York Times columnist and two time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof aims to put a spotlight on some of the world’s neglected problems. Here's a chance to meet incredible people across the globe, participate in an invaluable learning experience, and share your journey with others. To apply, visit Nicholas Kristof's blog, nytimes.com/ontheground. To read the full article, click here. Deadline: Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

9. Read New Research on Young People and HIV Prevention

UNAIDS released a new paper that shows the prevalence of HIV infection is falling among young people in 16 of the 25 countries most affected. This report calls on governments worldwide to implement a comprehensive set of programs that put young people’s leadership at the centre of national responses, to provide rights-based sexual and reproductive health education and services and to empower young people to prevent sexual and other transmission of HIV infection among their peers. It also calls on countries to learn from the progress and provide comprehensive programs for sexual health education, access to HIV testing, and wide availability of prevention methods such as condoms. The study found that the main drivers of the reductions were changes in sexual behavior: young people in 13 of the 25 countries were waiting longer before they became sexually active, and in more than half of the 25 countries, young people were choosing to have fewer sexual partners. Learn more.

10. Apply to Become a SafeSite

The Great American Condom Campaign is a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce unintended pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by normalizing condom use on college and university campuses in the U.S. Students from across the country apply to become SafeSites, individual condom distribution points, and receive a box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers. SafeSites are also tasked with educating their peers about safer sex and advocating on campus and within their community for the sexual and reproductive health rights of young adults.

During fall semester, 1,000 SafeSites distributed over 500,000 condoms to students on 679 campuses. SafeSites were established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Condoms were distributed at a health fair at Concord University, a Halloween Dance at Baldwin-Wallace College, all over campus at UMass Amherst and more! SafeSites partnered with RAs to do educational programs for residents and they also distributed condoms and safer sex information for World AIDS Day.
Apply for the GACC NOW!

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