You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

One of the goals of the Interagency Youth Working Group is to synthesize and share information on new research, programs, and best practices related to youth sexual and reproductive health. We promote publications of partner organizations and develop our own.

Are you using our publications? We’d love to hear from you! These publications are intended for an international audience, and we want to know who is using them and where in the world they’re being used.

Are you conducting trainings with the Training Guide for HIV Counseling and Testing for Youth? Planning a new program with Evidence-based Guidelines for Youth Peer Education? Please take a picture of our publications being used and send the photo to us with a short explanation of the work you’re doing. We might feature you in our blog!

Send photos and feedback about our publications to: youthwg@fhi.org

This blog entry was originally posted on Advocates for Youth’s blog, Amplify Your Voice.org. The author is “Berrybeauty,” an adolescent from Nigeria. 

A few days back, when I was passing my neighbor’s house in school, I saw a small crowd of people gathered, and as I walked closer, I noticed Ivy, my neighbor, in the middle of the crowd, crying seriously. I couldn’t help but try and find out what was going on: miss lover girl had been beaten by her lover again.

That is exactly what brought up this topic: CRAZY LOVE.

I still can’t bring myself to understand why a beautiful young lady would give her beautiful body to be brutally beaten daily by some hoodlum called LOVER. The most devastating part is, when she is asked why she remains in the relationship, the answer would be ‘I LOVE HIM.’

 

What?! Love? What does love have to do with violence, brutality, and pain? Back then, when I was a lot younger, I was taught that love is respect. So why would the same man that loves/respects you inflict any source of pain on you, especially physical pain. Well, I was also taught that a gentleman never hits a lady; guess that makes it more explainable: your so-called lover is not just irresponsible and arrogant but also doesn’t love you.

 

If you are reading this today and having a lover who hits you, do have a rethink, because that thing you may call love just might be hatred and disgust. And if you’re a guy who hits a lady, try as much as possible to control yourself, and if not, seek help, because violence destroys, not repairs.

A comment on intimate partner violence and gender-based violence from the IYWG: 

Globally, as many as one in every three females has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way. In most countries, sexual abuse or rape by an intimate partner is not considered a crime. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of women and girls experience forced sex with their intimate partner. According to the UNFPA, gender-based violence includes dating and courtship violence, economically coerced sex, sexual abuse in the workplace, rape, sexual harassment, and forced prostitution. The damaging effects of intimate partner violence on the health of adolescent girls can include unwanted pregnancies, complications from frequent high-risk pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), and psychological harm.

 

To learn about working with adolescent victims of sexual violence, read Meeting the Needs of Young Clients: A Guide to Providing Reproductive Health Services to Adolescents. Chapter 7: Counseling Victims of Sexual Violence or Coercion, written by FHI.

FHI is field-testing a new set of activities that teach youth about the risks of multiple and concurrent partnerships (MCP) and encourage positive behavior change.  These activities will be used to supplement existing sexuality education or life skills education programs.  In this slide show, peer educators in Kenya use the activities to discuss MCPs with a group of young adults.  Feedback from the peer educators and participants in Kenya and in two other countries will be used to improve the activities before they are published.

View our slide show!

Erin Rains works on Management Sciences for Health’s AIDSTAR-Two project and is an OVCsupport.net contributor.

Several months ago, I was asked to help manage a newly redesigned site that focuses on children and HIV/AIDS. I knew that over the last decade there had been an enormous increase in both the amount of and access to global health information. Thus, the challenge was to shift from simply producing more material to organizing, exchanging, and effectively using this growing knowledge base.

The goal of the Web site OVCSupport.net is to do just that. The site serves as a global hub for information on children and youth affected by HIV/AIDS.  The site’s library contains more than 900 documents that provide users with a wealth of information on programming and research for orphans and vulnerable children. However, information is gleaned from  many sources, not just from documents. Information is also borne of the tacit knowledge of its users, so the site was recently redesigned to encourage more interaction among users. OVCsupport.net provides a platform for people working with children and HIV around the world to have a voice. Users can now participate in online discussions, rate and comment on documents, browse daily news articles on OVC topics, and communicate through Facebook and Twitter.

During the time I have worked on the site, OVCSupport.net’s usership continues to grow—both in number and reach—demonstrating the increasing access to knowledge. The site has more than 2,500 visitors monthly from approximately 100 countries. More than 16,000 documents have been downloaded over the last three months. OVCSupport.net is increasingly working to share information from the field by engaging local implementers to tell about their experiences and contribute their findings.

OVCSupport.net hopes that by collaborating with sites such as http://www.iywg.org/, users will have quick access to pertinent information covering all areas of global health, and be able to share their thoughts and knowledge with colleagues around the world. 

The OVCSupport.net site is managed by Management Sciences for Health and supported by USAID. To register for the site, please click here. For more information on OVCSupport.net or to submit a document or article to be featured on the site, please contact us at ovcsupport@msh.org.

On February 1, 2011, the new executive director of the UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, proclaimed the importance of focusing on youth reproductive health in his first address to the UNFPA Executive Board.  There are an estimated 1.8 billion adolescents and youth in the world today, and almost 90 percent of them live in developing countries.  By the end of this year, the world population is estimated to reach 7 billion, and the proportion of adolescents is expected to significantly increase over the next 20 years.

The projected population increase is the motivation for Dr. Osotimehin’s commitment to increasing the UNFPA’s focus on youth. During his address, he said, “A world approaching a population of 7 billion is marked by new dynamics to which UNFPA must support countries to respond…Investing in youth, their reproductive health and gender equality can help put countries on a path to accelerated economic growth and equitable development…They [youth] need increased support, and they want freedom, participation and dignity.” He vowed that the “UNFPA will place a special emphasis on today’s large generation of young people.

Watch the speech here.

We are delighted to hear this news! We are eager to see how this commitment to youth will affect the landscape of global reproductive health programming. Thank you, Dr. Osotimehin!

James Bonney is the grants manager at Huru International, where he assists with program development and institutional partnerships.

Girls and women in resource-poor settings often lack access to sanitary pads, and the consequences they suffer as a result have only recently begun to receive serious attention. We’re often asked, “Why sanitary pads? Is it really that significant a problem?” The answer is yes: for countless girls and women, sanitary pads are an unaffordable luxury. Among the thousands of girls with whom Huru International has worked, most explained that they were forced to resort to unsanitary and sometimes unsafe measures to meet their needs. These include retrieving and recycling used disposable pads and improvising makeshift pads from old clothes, rags, newspapers, bits of mattress, and other readily available materials.

The lack of affordable sanitary pads has been widely cited as one of the key obstacles to regular school attendance among adolescent girls. Although this correlation has yet to be extensively studied, Huru’s program evaluations have thus far confirmed it, and we’re arranging for increased access to school attendance records in targeted districts for additional verification.

 Looking beyond the impact that sanitary pad provision has on school attendance, however, it is no less important that interventions furnish girls with a tool that can reclaim a measure of the dignity that poverty too often conspires to deny.

Huru International produces and distributes kits of reusable sanitary pads (RSPs) and associated materials to underserved girls throughout Kenya. Kits come bundled in backpacks, and include eight RSPs; three pairs of underwear; detergent-grade soap; a resealable waterproof bag; instructions on proper pad use and maintenance; and educational materials focused on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention. The pads are manufactured at a production workshop in Mukuru—one of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements—which is staffed by members of the community, including many women living with HIV/AIDS.

 Huru Kits are distributed at health information sharing sessions; so far, we have delivered nearly 15,000 kits to at-risk girls in six of Kenya’s eight administrative provinces. Near-term plans for program expansion include developing a referral network for HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) and other critical services, cultivating peer education campaigns with the collaboration of program beneficiaries, and working with distribution partners to achieve expanded coverage in rural areas.

Many of our beneficiaries have reported that simply having a reliable supply of sanitary pads has had a positive impact on their self-esteem and school performance. Roselyne, a 13-year-old girl from Mathare, was kind enough to write a few words for us about the anxieties that frequently led her to skip school during her periods:

“Using a handkerchief was really difficult because it couldn’t hold blood for a long time; thus, leaking was easy. This meant I couldn’t concentrate in class because I was worried of soiling my uniform and being gossiped about in the class. At times I had to improvise ways of making my own pad by taking tissues and putting them between the handkerchief so as to prevent leakage, but this proved futile because at times the bulk was very uncomfortable and shifted from one position to another. This limited my movement in school because I was afraid that it would fall down and be a laughing subject to the rest of the students. Now I don’t have to worry about soiling my clothes because there is no leakage and the pads are very comfortable, and I can concentrate in class fully.”

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This blog is brought to you by the Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG) with financial assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The content is managed by FHI, which functions as the secretariat for the IYWG.
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