On Thursday the 28th of February a group of enthusiastic, young SRHR activists rights from different member associations of IPPF in Europe and Central Asia arrived to Brussels, Belgium, to spend the weekend to partake in the YSAFE annual meeting and to share and exchange ideas, learn and contribute.
During the weekend we held presentations on the condition of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in our respective countries, and thus got to learn about the situation in other countries as well. I found it immensely interesting and learnt a great deal about SGBV in other parts of the European and Central Asian world. We also took part in useful workshops to deepen our understanding on, for example, good project management and online security, both of which I found extremely interesting and important. As a general assembly, we also discussed and edited the rules and regulations, and thought about the direction and focus of YSAFE in the next year.
Not only did I learn a lot about SRHR and SGBV, by attending the workshops I also received plenty of information on project management and online security to name a few. But perhaps most importantly, I met some truly amazing, inspiring people dealing with their countries’ unique issues. I had numerous incredibly amazing conversations that extended my horizons and deepened my understanding, ones that I will probably always remember. These clever, resourceful activists really gave me hope and reassured me of one thing: the future will be brighter in terms of SRHR.
The annual meeting wasn’t all just work, even though we did spend a lot of the day indoors listening to presentations, taking part in workshops and having eye-opening discussions. During the evenings we had time to discover the beautiful Brussels, roam its narrow old streets, try craft beer brewed in monasteries, and eat world-famous Belgian chocolate and delicious, crunchy, yet soft waffles with tons of different toppings to choose from.
On Sunday, the 3rd of March our final session and time together had come its end. Each one of us returned home through the airport or train stations, and felt melancholic, yet inspired after a weekend of meeting such amazing people and learning so much. Even at the airport many goodbyes were still exchanged, but simultaneously there was a feeling present, that these were not actually goodbyes at all. Luckily, we live in the internet era.
Thank you, YSAFE and IPPF ENRO for making this meeting possible. And thank you, all wonderful attendees for making the experience unforgettable!
Emmi Rantanen, Väestöliitto, Finland.