In 2004, IPPF EN launched the Sexual Awareness For Europe (SAFE) project aimed to develop the capacities of young people in the region and enhance their SRHR. Young people were fully involved in project design and implementation and were advocates in high level meetings with European officials. The SAFE project launched the YSAFE network in 2006 and the network quickly gained momentum.
A year after its launch, the YSAFE Steering Committee gained voting rights at IPPF EN’s Regional Council and the network engaged in its first international project: ‘Joining Forces: Youth Advocates for SRHR in Development’. The project focused on collaboration with IPPF Africa Region’s Youth Action Movement (YAM) and building capacities to advocate for an increase in European Overseas Development Aid. This was followed by the ‘YouthLink’ project, providing advocacy training to young volunteers, and the ‘SAFE II’ project, which aimed to improve young people’s SRHR across Europe through qualitative research, sharing good practices and policy advocacy and engaged young people and YSAFE as partners in the process. These initiatives helped create a strong network of young experts across the European region and allowed YSAFE members to participate actively in many national and international processes and events such as the Global Youth Forum, the ICPD beyond 2014 process, the International Year of Youth Strategy Group and consultations focused on SRHR, youth and development. Throughout those events, YSAFE took the opportunity to collaborate and exchange experiences with many like-minded youth networks at regional and international level.
Over time, YSAFE has grown in organizational capacity and activity. The introduction of a YSAFE coordinator in 2007 played a key role in the network’s development. The coordinator ensures the effective functioning and strengthening of the network, and enhances the communication between the IPPF EN Regional Office, the YSAFE Steering Committee, YSAFE members and third parties. The position also empowers the young people taking up this position by providing them with valuable work experience and advocacy opportunities.
The growing capacity of the network resulted in the launch of YSAFE’s first independent project called “I ♥ Being a Girl”. It encourages empowering young women by providing an open social media and resource platform for positively framed dialogue about gender equality, femininity and sexuality. The project was presented at international events including Women Deliver and the International Aids conference. In 2012, it won the World Summit Youth Award (Category: Power2Women), awarded to youth-led projects using IT to put the United Nations Millennium Development Goals into action and make a difference. YSAFE also started its second youth-led project in 2012 called ‘YSAFE connects’. This project is part of the IPPF MYX Initiative and focuses on sharing experiences and good practices through video’s and social media. In 2013, a successful Study Session was organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe in order to strengthen youth activism and networking on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) within a human rights framework at regional and national level in Europe and Central Asia.
Within the IPPF European Network, YSAFE keeps on actively advocating for meaningful youth participation at regional and national level. The network offers support to its Member Associations through sharing good practices and providing planning and advocacy trainings so that YSAFE members are able to lead and manage initiatives at national level. Furthermore, YSAFE keeps on improving its communication channels making it easier for members to be informed, receive support, take an active part in discussions, exchange experiences and work at regional level.
With an eventful and successful seven years behind YSAFE, the network looks forward to a future with even more enthusiastic members, full of exciting campaigns and a world where young people overcome challenges and can enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
2004 SAFE I project started
2006 YSAFE was established
2007 Joining Forces project launched YSAFE has voting rights at IPPF EN’s Regional Council
2008 Introduction of YSAFE Coordinator internship
2009/2010 YouthLink project, SAFE II project and introduction of YSAFE as a partner
2010 I Heart Being a Girl project launched
2012 YSAFE MYX project launched I Heart Being a Girl project wins World Summit Youth Award
2013 YSAFE first Study Session