This post originally appeared in Pathfinder’s Field Journal and can be accessed here. Written by Callie Simon, May 2011.
Last week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called upon the next generation of young leaders to “bring about positive change in attitudes and actions” to address HIV and AIDS. In a meeting in South Africa convened by UNAIDS, Tutu and others emphasized the power of young people to transform their communities—and thus, the world. The Archbishop’s statements reflect a growing acknowledgment that young people have the power to change the reality of HIV and AIDS.
At Pathfinder, we echo these sentiments. In the 21 countries where we work, we invest in developing youth leadership and building skills and knowledge around HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support, because young people are effective agents of change and advocates for other youth in their community.
In 2009, we launched the 3 Billion Reasons campaign, to draw attention to the largest generation of young people in world history—some 3 billion people under age 25—and the tremendous opportunity that they represent for improving global reproductive and sexual health. Acting to protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of today’s 3 billion young people is a matter of urgency for donors, developing country governments, and the international health community alike.