YSAFE builds the capacity of its members to advocate for SRHR through trainings and an Annual Meeting.
Annual Meeting 2015
This year’s YSAFE Annual Meeting 2015, was held on the 6th-8th of February, with the topic: “SRHR and Sustainable Development”. YSAFE members from 29 MAs of the region successfully participated for the first time on an online training; the first phase of our Annual Meeting. The YSAFE Steering Committee had worked and put together the units and modules that consisted the overall training, via an online platform. After participants completed the training, they were all well prepared to take part in the comprehensive and interactive sessions here in Brussels, with the hopes that everyone will be well-equipped to work on national level with their MAs for phase three. The YSAFE Working Groups on ‘Advocacy’ and ‘I heart being a girl’, were also in the heart of the meeting. Elections were held to nominate a youth representative to the REC, who is to be confirmed at this year’s Regional Council. Damir from BiH was re-nominated.
The 3rd phase of YSAFE AM 2015 is currently in progress. The online platform will be in use to upload and collect the follow up work that our participants will put together, with the aim to give a regional push as the YSAFE network, around post-2015 Advocacy and IPPF’s #idecide campaign.
Study session on Comprehensive Sexuality Education – April 2013
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, a five-day Study Session was conducted for members from YSAFE in cooperation with the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. The session took place in April 2013 at the European Youth Centre in Budapest.
A preparatory survey amongst the participants of the Study Session, revealed that CSE is not a political priority in many countries in Europe and Central Asia. While some countries have relatively comprehensive sexuality education as part of an established educational curriculum, others struggle with basic and limited provision of any information regarding sexuality. In many countries across the region there is a lack of laws and policies focused on Comprehensive Sexuality Education. Even when policies are adopted, there is a lack of qualified educators, no designated budget and no consistent monitoring of quality and implementation. Sexuality is seen as a sensitive issue to talk about and, in many countries, there is a negative approach to sexuality, focused on risky behaviour and a non-acceptance of young people’s sexuality. Conservative and religious groups have a lot of influence in this, especially on the lack of acceptance of same-sex relationships and sexual minorities, the difference in attitudes towards girls and boys as well as the inclusion of sexuality education as a subject in schools.
Following these findings, the activities in the study session focused on empowering participants to build advocacy action plans on CSE to implement in their own local/national context. Plans are developed to raise more awareness among young people of their rights and opportunities; and among leaders and policy makers on their obligations and the importance of CSE as well as its benefits. Other plans focus on the implementation of national curricula on Comprehensive Sexuality Education or improving the provision of CSE provided by NGOs. Furthermore, plans are made to increase youth advocacy and youth involvement related to Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Training YSAFE members as Peer interviewers
In 2013, IPPF EN initiated a review of the YSAFE network in order for YSAFE to draw upon lessons learned and plan for the future. This review took place with the participation of YSAFE members through a Rapid PEER Review methodology. YSAFE members from different countries of the IPPF EN region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine) were trained as Peer interviewers and conducted in-country interviews with their peers. This to capture personal stories of how the network has created change for its members and their communities.
The main question identified and asked by the peer interviewees was what difference YSAFE had made in their lives. By being active as a youth volunteer in YSAFE and their Member Association many expressed that they feel more confident. One interviewee explained that she had received a higher authority at school, within classmates and friends due to her awareness in reproductive health. Other shared:
“I used to be small and unconfident. Now I am confident and a certified trainer on reproductive health”. (Female, Ukraine, 18)
“My life has been filled with new experience. I got to know about what Sexual health and reproductive rights is all about. And because in my country there are a lot of traditions and the Muslim mentality, people do not know a lot about.” (Male, Tajikistan, 22)
Another interviewee explained how she has become less judgmental after receiving information about SRHR and it was easier for her to express her thoughts because of her knowledge. A change in attitudes came back multiple times in the different stories:
“I was on a different attitude to SRHR before joining YSAFE. Let’s say earlier it was difficult to work in this area because of the mentality of the state in Tajikistan. But fortunately the situation has changed for the better with a help of YSAFE and other organizations advocating in SRHR and people’s attitudes to these issues has improved.” (Female, Tajikistan, 21)
“I’m not proud of who I was before, I hated everyone who was not pure Bosnian and Muslim and that was because I lost my dad in the war and I blamed others who weren’t fault for that. Now I’m a totally different person because I met a lot of people across Bosnia through YSAFE, people of all ethnicities, some of my best friends today are people of other ethnicity from Bosnia”. (Female, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 20)
YSAFE will use the results of the PEER review to showcase the personal impact of being a youth volunteer in IPPF EN Member Associations and YSAFE as well as to further strengthen the YSAFE network and its members.