Young people address the realities of HIV and related issues for Post 2015
By Jennifer Ehidiamen
As an intern working in a non-profit organization back in 2005, I co-hosted a youth-focused HIV-awareness programme alongside young people living with HIV. The project aimed at promoting positive behaviour change among youths in Lagos Nigeria. The organization, Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS), created the youth-led programme because they saw the crucial need to open up leadership opportunities for young people to prevent HIV.
Outreach programmes aimed at young people is more successful when young people are empowered to take the lead. In a nutshell, young people listen to young people, more. Over the years, I have continued to see this youth-for-youth strategy in tackling challenges at every level.
In 2011, UNAIDS through its CrowdOutAIDS project successfully mobilized over 5,000 youths through the use of technology (social networks) and organized offline community forums. These youths spread across different countries, crowdsourced and developed a new strategy that radically changed the way UNAIDS and other organizations collaborate with young people in AIDS response.
Many credit the success of CrowdOutAIDS project to the advent of technology, while others mention youth engagement as the backbone of its success. I think the success of CrowdOutAIDS - irrespective of whom or what takes the credit- reminds everyone that the possibilities can emerge when opportunities are created for youth involvement.
When I learned about ACT 2015, a new project launched in November this year by a youth network called “The PACT” and UNAIDS, I felt it was another interesting way of engaging youths in the AIDS response.
A recent UNAIDS report reveals that in 2012 about 5.4 million young people, aged 10-24 were living with HIV. In spite of this alarming statistics, I strongly believe that with this new project, youth activists can influence how HIV and other sexual reproductive health policy will address the realities of young people today. But first, they need to maximize the opportunities it creates by being actively involved.
In the first phase of the project, which kicked off in November, youth and youth activists from around the world are signing up and organizing community dialogues to help projecting youth stories, finding solutions and inspiring action. The dialogues focus on: What's the reality in your country? What are the needs of young people living with HIV? How does HIV/AIDS affect you? How can we together get closer to the end of the AIDS epidemic?
In the next phase of ACT 2015, after the community dialogues, the project coordinators will follow-up online to provide youths with the tools to mobilize and take action in their communities based on the needs identified in the dialogues.
About 1.8 billion adolescents and youth make up one quarter of the world’s population. This reality again resonates the need for young people to be continuously involved in the AIDS response. The energy and passion in the youth force can be instrumental in getting to zero HIV infections, and contributing to ending the AIDS epidemic.
Young people everywhere can be the forces that will bring about a positive change to the challenges of HIV. Through collaborative efforts-- youths can take action to create awareness, to influence their peers who are at risk of contracting the virus.
About the Author:
Jennifer Ehidiamen is a young journalist based in Nigeria. She is a 2013 New Media fellow for International Reporting Project (www.internationalreportingproject.org), reporting on health and development. Jennifer blogs at: www.youthmakingchange.blogspot.com.
ACT 2015: one goal, many voices is a movement building initiative that aims to secure a post-2015 development framework that advances the SRHR and HIV response for young people. ACT 2015 also aims to inspire action on the priorities of the youth constituency within national AIDS responses. This is a collaborative effort of the PACT, a collaboration of 25 youth-led and youth-serving organizations, together with UNAIDS. More information..
The first training for the 2013 UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund grant recipients was held at the Universal Business School in Mumbai, India. The training conducted jointly with Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation (NSF) brought together 11 Project Coordinators of the successful projects from India, Nepal, Yemen, and the Philippines.
The program included interactive lectures, group activities, a webinar on the new E-Learning program and an assessment of the successful projects to further amplify activities. The training, conducted over six days, was extremely well received by the attendees. Abhishegh from the Tara Trust in Goa said, “I’m leaving here with a very good understanding of Project Management to apply in my own project. I’ve learnt a lot and I’m very grateful for this opportunity that was extended to me.”
The World Forum on Human Rights was held in Brasilia, Brazil from 10th – 13th December 2013. This Forum offered a space for public debate at the international level on global human rights’ main achievements and challenges. Held parallel to this forum was the International Workshop on Youth and Adolescent Participation, hosted by the Brazilian National Youth Secretary and the Youth Coordination Office of the State of DF in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA offices in Brazil. 120 young people aged from 15 to 29 attended the International Workshop, all of whom are engaged in civic participation initiatives, as promoters of participation rights and as representatives of organising partners.
UN-Habitat, as a joint sponsor, held a working session on Youth and Adolescent’s Rights to the City, highlighting the process of youth participation and engagement through youth-led action research on land projects.
The failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for the more than 2 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years are living with HIV, has resulted in a 50% increase in reported AIDS-related deaths in this group compared with the 30% decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.
The WHO recommendations "HIV and adolescents: Guidance for HIV testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV" have been released in advance of World AIDS Day 2013 and is the first to address the specific needs of adolescents both for those living with HIV as well as those who are at risk of infection. To help health workers put these recommendations into practice, WHO has developed a new online tool which will be launched in January 2014. It uses practical examples from country programmes that are working closely with adolescents on HIV issues.
The event was held in San Salvador (17-19 November 2013), which gathered almost a hundred young people living in rural areas and professionals working on rural development- from 15 different countries. It was organized by the Latin America and the Caribbean Division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Regional “Young Rural Entrepreneurs” Program by Procasur.
The workshop was aimed to generate dialogue among rural youth and technical experts from rural development projects. Every day was filled with ample conversation, powerful ideas for youth participation, and suggestions for productive initiatives to facilitate community development.
The workshop was concluded with the development of action plans for each country. These plans provide a road map to improve the inclusion of rural youth in development projects and to follow up on progress in this direction over the years to come.
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NEEDSCI, a winner of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Youth Solidarity Fund (2013 edition), just hosted the 5th annual International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue in Jos, Nigeria. The conference focused on how youth could actively counter the narratives of ‘otherism’ plaguing the media, and explored how new media would create fresh opportunities for intercultural dialogue. Hundreds of young Nigerian activists and peacebuilders from various ethnic groups and religions came together to learn cutting-edge peacebuilding approaches, share stories, and organize grassroots efforts.
As a result, NEEDSCI is creating a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Plateau State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Hospitality, to engage local government to build capacity, explore the potential of tourism in peacebuilding, and expand next year’s conference, slated for October 2014.
Dream Achievers Youth Organization, a winner of The Youth Solidarity Fund at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, is actively working to counter terrorist recruiting efforts of young men and women in the coastal region of Kenya. With this vision, they have trained 30 Kenyan youth in peacebuilding and public theatre.
With this training, these youth will be able to reach at least 7,000 Kenyans through talk shows about cohesion and security on local radio stations. Through this outreach, youth people messages of peaceful participation and tolerance, countere secessionist propaganda and disseminate messages on the importance of democratic participation.
The PLURAL+ 2013 Awards Ceremony took place on 5 December at the Paley Center in New York. Over 180 guests attended in celebration of youth media-makers from around the world. PLURAL+ International Jury Awards were presented to Lisa Nassoy (8-12 age category) from France; Shruti Rai (13-18 age category) from India; and Bizimana Francois (19-25 age category), a Rwandan refugee in Kenya.PLURAL+ Partners also awarded selected media-makers with an array of prizes including broad distribution of their videos; invitations to conferences and festivals; professional opportunities; and cash for future media projects. More
The Youth Employment Network (YEN) is launching the Youth-to-Youth (Y2Y) Fund in Togo. It is a competitive grant and capacity building scheme that enables youth-led non-profit organizations to pilot and replicate innovative projects that create employment for young people by helping them set up small and micro enterprises in niche markets. The Y2Y Fund will provide grants of USD 10,000 - 30,000 and capacity building support to best applicants. Applications from officially registered, non-governmental, non-profit youth led organisations in Togo must be submitted by December 21, 2013. More
From December 5 to 6, 2013, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA) organized a regional youth employment consultation in Rio de Janeiro. Policymakers and researchers discussed policy responses to the youth employment challenge in Latin America. The discussion focused on policy responses aimed at overcoming labor demand barriers for youth and promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship. The workshop aimed to set the research and capacity building agenda for innovative youth employment programmes and policies in Latin America.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Facility (YEF) in East Africa organized a workshop in Kampala to share evidence about the effectiveness of youth employment interventions with policymakers and youth employment practitioners. YEF’s Evidence Based Advocacy Component aims to build a reliable evidence base of what works in youth employment and entrepreneurship in Africa. In collaboration with other organizations such as the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), the Youth Employment Network supports and conducts rigorous impact evaluations of youth employment interventions.
In coordination with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, UNRWA co-hosted a concert featuring its first ever Regional Youth Ambassador, and winner of Arab Idol 2013, Mohammed Assaf. Assaf, along with Palestinian singer Nai Barghouti, performed for guests in the ECOSOC chamber which saw guests dancing on the chamber floor during Assaf’s rendition of ‘Alih Al Kuffiyeh’ or ‘Raise the Kuffiyeh’.
Mr. Assaf had the chance to meet the United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmed Alhendawi. During his press briefing, Assaf spoke about the significance of UNRWA’s work in the region and his pride in being the first youth ambassador. Being born in Gaza, Assaf attended UNRWA schools and knows, first hand, how vital is UNRWA’s work to maintain the livelihood for the nearly 5 million Palestine refugees. Assaf’s role will continue to be an important one for the future of UNRWAs endeavours.
UN-Habitat together with the Commonwealth youth Programme hosted a high-level conference on youth involving over 60 participants from 12 African countries in Livingstone, Zambia. The conference is a first of series of discussions that will be held in the regions of Africa with the intention of designing a process and developing Strategies that promote regional collaboration for youth empowerment, particularly in promoting the One Stop Youth Center Model, by the engaging the Regional Economic Blocks. The conference saw youth and representatives of governments, UN entities, regional economic blocks, and international organizations share best practices and lessons leant on the development and management of Youth Resource Centers to support youth empowerment in Africa.
The conference was attended by participants from Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as representatives from many UN entities. More
In November, YUNGA Costa Rica held a large event attended by more than 250 students from 12 different schools. The event was organized in partnership between YUNGA, the Costa Rica Ministry of Public Education, the Association of Guides and Scouts Costa Rica and the Foundation of Metropolitan Park La Libertad.
The students attended the event were awarded YUNGA Challenge Badges for Biodiversity and Climate Change Projects that they have worked hard to achieve throughout the year. YUNGA’s Challenge Badge series focus on a range of environmental issues and encourage young people to take active steps to improve the world.
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On the occasion of International Volunteer Day, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has launched a report gathering findings, perceptions and recommendations on youth volunteerism in Arab States, as part of its regional project, Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future.
The report is the fruit of twelve months of field work, focus groups, questionnaires, desk reviews and national workshops carried out in 2012 in each of the project’s target countries: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
UN-Habitat recently released the report ‘Advancing Youth Civic Engagement and Human Rights’. This first of its kind of publication demonstrates youth citizenship and engagement in governance is about more than political engagement. It is as much about dealing with limited access to economic resources and socio-political assets. UN-Habitat through this publication and the workshop seeks to highlight how youth are taking leadership roles, and explore how governments can support youth to become active and responsible citizens now and in the future. More