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It is day one of the International Family Planning Conference (ICFP) and young people will play a pivotal role in this year’s conference. There are more than 150 young people attending, and there are a number of presentations, sessions, and other events dedicated to the sexual and reproductive health of this population.
“This is an opportunity not just to talk about issues of youth and family planning but for young people to be present as well.” Dr. Robert Blum
The international attention being paid to the unique needs of young people could not be more timely. In developing countries, as many as one-third of adolescent girls give birth before their 20thbirthday. Furthermore, lack of access to family planning services leads to approximately 7.4 million unintended adolescent pregnancies every year. This conference provides an excellent opportunity for young people and professionals in the field of youth sexual and reproductive health to gather together for one collective purpose—ensuring that the needs of youth are met today so that they can achieve the promise they hold for the future.
The Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG) is thrilled to be a part of this monumental event. FHI 360, on behalf of the IYWG, is hosting several exciting sessions and events, including our annual meeting, that focus on youth sexual and reproductive health. To learn more about the IYWG-sponsored events at the ICFP, please visit our website and check our blog for daily updates.
Mikaela Hildebrand is the social media officer at UNAIDS, and manages the CrowdOutAIDS project.
When Iceland crowdsourced its new constitution to increase the transparency and legitimacy of government process, it inspired a group of people working at the UNAIDS Secretariat to explore a similar approach to its work with young people.
The concept of crowdsourcing at first felt quite radical. The United Nations had used it before—primarily for emergency response and crisis mapping—but tapping online tools for collaborative strategy development was a first.
Yet to openly invite young people from across the world, reaching a broad group to collaborate for new ideas, new energy and new partnerships was attractive, given the size of the challenge.
While there have been many successes in the AIDS response, 30 years into the epidemic awareness about HIV is still very low in many places. Only 24% of young women and 36% of young men in low-and middle-income countries have adequate knowledge about HIV and how to prevent it. An estimated 5 million young people are living with HIV today. Many lack access to lifesaving treatment.
In response, policies are made and programmes put in place “for” young people. But young people don’t always have a say. CrowdOutAIDS.org, UNAIDS new crowdsourcing project, turns that model on its head: it’s an online collaboration to rebuild the organization’s approach to HIV and young people from the bottom up. Through it, we want to find new ways to work with young people, across borders, for a shift on AIDS.
To develop UNAIDS’ new approach to youth and HIV we’ve put together a transparent four step process. First, we know that there are some amazing young people out there working on HIV, from large youth networks and young people living with HIV, to the young woman who talks to her friends about safer sex. We want to connect this community of knowledge.
Step two is about setting the agenda; we are engaging the community in dialogue and based on the discussion, a survey will be developed to prioritize key issues. Third, an application will be launched where young people can submit ideas and actions to solve the challenges defined by the community in step two.
Finally, a document summarizing the key outcomes of the CrowdOutAIDS process will be drafted, in public, through Google docs allowing for collaborative real-time online debates and discussions as the document comes to life.
In its first weeks, CrowdOutAIDS.org connected more than 4000 young people from 150 countries, through mailing lists, Twitter and eight Open Forums in six languages on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Renren and Vkontakte!
CrowdOutAIDS is also pulling together a network of volunteers to organize face-to-face forums to reach young people unable to join the online conversation – some 100 young people have already signed up fromZambia,IndonesiatoCanada, theUKandBolivia!
Through CrowdOutAIDS we hope to establish a network of youth organizations and young people—students, artists, activists, public health professionals—to come together to write a new narrative on HIV and young people.
CrowdOutAIDS has one ultimate goal: that young people across the world ensure the ambitious commitments made by UN Member States in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS—such as halving new HIV infections and ensuring 15 million people have access to treatment by 2015—are met.
Visit CrowdOutAIDS to find out how you can get involved in this groundbreaking initiative!
CrowdOutAIDS on Twitter
This post originally appeared on the International Family Planning Conference home page on November 11, 2011 and can be viewed here.
With 12 young leaders and 150 adolescent participants attending, young people will play a prominent role in the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning according to Robert Wm. Blum, chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In this video, Blum details why it’s critically important to involve young people in the conference and the many ways that they will help shape the proceedings. “I could think of no group more important to reach about these [family planning] issues than young people,” says Blum.
This is an excerpt from a Pathfinder International News story; the original piece is available here.
UNFPA recently published its latest State of the World’s Population. The report details some of the paradoxes faced in a world that now has among the largest elderly and youth populations in history. As the world approaches 7 billion people, it becomes even more important to invest in universal access to family planning and to ensure adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive rights. “Nearly half the world’s population is under the age of 25—yet their needs are going unmet and their rights are going unfulfilled,” Callie Simon, Pathfinder’s Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor said. “Around the world, we see young girls married, having children, and leaving school—that can have a devastating impact on their health, well-being, and their futures. We have to ensure young people have a voice and that we listen to their needs and support them in making healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives.”
The UNFPA report rightly states that young people have “hope, ambition and commitment to improve their own lives and those of their peers, neighbors, communities, and countries. Their success, however, will depend on their ability to take advantage of educational and economic opportunities as they arise and to overcome obstacles to their sexual and reproductive rights.”
“If we can meet the needs of young people, we can shape the course of the future of our world,” Daniel E. Pellegrom, President of Pathfinder, said. “Add to that universal access to contraception—for all people in their reproductive years, including adolescents—and we have a positive path then paved for our collective future.”
For more information about Pathfinder’s approach to adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, please visit: www.3BillionReasons.org
For more information on youth sexual and reproductive health research, programs, and materials, visit www.IYWG.org, sign-up for youth InfoNet, or follow us on twitter @IYWG.
This post orginally appeared on the FHI 360 blog, Degrees, and can be accessed here.
On October 31, 2011, the 7 billionth world citizen was born.
Only 50 years ago, the world population was 3 billion — less than half what it is today. What does this mean? Is our population growing too quickly, or is this milestone a testament to advances in agriculture, medicine and technology? As we look to the future — a future with more youth and more elderly than the world has ever known — how do we nurture opportunity and benefit from every person’s vast potential?
Together we can accomplish a great deal, but the world faces many challenges. The most rapid population growth is taking place in the poorest countries. An estimated 215 million women have no access to family planning. Persistent gender inequities fuel high fertility rates, which in turn hinder development. People across the globe are moving more — some in search of opportunity, others fleeing famine, violence or economic despair at home. And in some regions, the environment is in danger under the added strain of increased population.
We have our work cut out for us, but with 7 billion minds and hands working together – including individuals, families, communities and governments, along with the private and public sector – we can continue to innovate to improve lives worldwide.
The State of the World Population (UNFPA) examines where we have been, where we are now and what these numbers mean for our collective future. View The State of the World Population Report.
What do you think?
Last week the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to change the status of the male human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination from permissive to routine. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S.; it is also the main cause of cervical cancer, and research suggests it is the leading cause of other forms of cancer. The HPV vaccine, which is widely marketed for female adolescents, has been approved for males since 2009. However, HPV vaccination rates are low among female adolescents in theU.S. and even lower among males. It is estimated that only 1% of males in theU.S. have been vaccinated. The advisory committee is recommending that the vaccine become standard for all boys ages 11 and 12 and is advising the vaccination of young men ages 13 to 21 who have not yet received the vaccine.
Globally, the highest rates of STIs occur among youth (ages 15-24) and approximately 25% of young women under 24 years old have been infected with HPV. HPV is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer cases, 50% of all vulvar cancer cases, and 60% of all head and neck cancer cases. The previous focus of HPV vaccination campaigns on females sent the message that HPV is a single-sex issue, however these cancers affect both males and females. Expansion of the vaccination recommendations to include boys will help to change the public perception of the infection as one that mainly affects females to one that has negative effects on everyone. The change in the recommendation will likely lead to greater uptake among young men, not only protecting them from HPV-related cancers, but also helping them to prevent the spread of HPV to their partners.