GOJoven Fellows Gain Audience with Honduran President, Push for Policies to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Violence Against Women
This post originally appeared as a PHI Blog entry here.
Adolescents in Honduras face serious challenges obtaining comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. Almost 40% of girls are married by 18 and the birth rate among girls 15-19 is among the highest in Latin America.
The Public Health Institute’s GOJoven (or Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health) program trains young leaders across Latin America to advocate for policies and programs to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) in their countries. In Honduras, GOJoven fellows are mobilizing and raising their voices – and the Honduran President is listening.
Honduran President, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, came to know of GOJoven alumnus Wendy Aguilar, from the Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights, after she successfully advocated for a presidential mandate that would obligate cabinet members to follow specific guidelines to prevent violence against children and youth. To follow up on this new mandate, he called on Wendy to organize youth organizations and youth stakeholders to present their needs to him and his cabinet during a cabinet meeting in late 2012.
Enter GOJoven Honduras, a youth-led network of highly skilled, highly committed experts in ASRH, trained by PHI GOJoven staff to promote change at the local, regional and national levels. At the cabinet meeting GOJoven Honduras alumni Gabriela Flores, Antonio Barahona and Licda Alvarez urged the Honduran government to invest in preventing adolescent pregnancy and violence against women, and to support sexual education and young people’s access to emergency contraception.
As a result of the cabinet meeting, there has been ongoing communication between GOJoven Honduras and the Ministries of Health and Youth. Gabriela Flores (the GOJoven Honduras National Coordinator) has now been appointed to the national Technical Committee of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, which consists of 20 civil society organizations, corporations and government organizations committed to creating multisectoral alliances to push forward the Honduran National Strategy to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy (ENAPREAH) launched in late 2012.
GOJoven Honduras is in negotiations with the Vice Minister of Education to fund and train teachers to implement the new sex education manual throughout Honduras. In May 2013, Gabriela Flores met with several NGO leaders and the educational director of a large high school in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, to negotiate the inclusion of the new sex education manual in local public schools. The group also discussed the need to adequately train teachers who would be using the sex education manual.
Also in May 2013, Gabriela Flores met with the technical director of the Honduran government’s Youth Institute to discuss collaborative opportunities with the Youth Institute’s local committees across the country.
With GOJoven Honduras fellows and alumni active in nearly all of the country’s regions, the possibilities for far-reaching change are looking more and more attainable.
On May 28-30, the Public Health Institute (PHI) will head to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to join thousands of participants from around the world, including government leaders, policymakers, healthcare professionals, non-profit representatives, and corporate leaders, at this year’s Women Deliver conference, which promises to be “the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of girls and women.”
Three GOJoven Belize fellows will attend the conference: Elmer Cornejo, Iris Carbajal Reyes, and Errol Longsworth. Roberto Morales’s Digital Story Where are you… will be screened at the conference Cinema Corner as well. Congratulations, GOJoven Fellows!
Read more about PHI’s participation in the Women Deliver Conference here.
Congratulations Mexico 2011 team, for the various mentions in the Diario Respuesta news magazine about their Leadership Action Plan, Red Space. GOJoven Fellow Sandybel Robaldino said of the project: “in Red Space we analyzed current conditions, and the central problem to resolve is the increase in cases of HIV in adolescents between 15 and 19 years old by contributing to the strengthening of their communication skills in sexual and reproductive health topics, and help them assert their sexual and reproductive rights.” Take a look at the links below to see the important work this team is doing to educate the youth of Quintana Roo about HIV prevention and other SRH topics:
Yamileth Cáceres (Honduras 2012 Fellow) represented GOJoven at the Central American Youth Camp, “Making Alliances in Diversity,” implemented by Puntos de Encuentro, in Estelí, Nicaragua from January 20 to 31, 2013. The main objective of the camp was to create a space in which youth and adults of diverse identities and social movements of Nicaragua and Central America could create alliances oriented toward questioning and intervening against all forms of discrimination, mistreatment, abuse, and social exclusion. At the same time, the challenge for participants was to form relationships based on equality of rights, dialogue, respect, and solidarity. Yamileth said that attending the camp was a very good experience: “My plan is to change my lifestyle, to be more conscious of the social inequalities that we are part of, and carry this message to others so they can also unite with the cause toward a more equal society…Above all, I consider that the key to success is to never stop learning about all of the people around us.” Well said, Yami!
The Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program of the Public Health Institute held the third in a series of national meetings (the second of this year) in Guatemala from September 21 to 23, 2012, and a press conference on September 24, 2012. All GOJoven fellows from the 2004 to 2012 cohorts were invited; 28 fellows attended.
Achievements: Fellows who participated in this meeting were able to:
- share their vision about the expected results of the GOJoven program, and the activities to develop in Guatemala at the community, departmental and national levels, highlighting the consolidation of the networks in Guatemala at the national and regional level from a perspective of forming partnerships and advocating for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH)
- consider the needs of the GOJoven Guatemala network, including the fact that the human resources should be graduated GOJoven Fellows with the commitment and willingness to support the GOJoven network
- consolidate the “Supporting Network” between those same fellows, developing trust, dependability, the ability to effectively use technology and, with the support of legal personnel at the national level, implement positive strategies and develop innovative proposals based on strategic planning
Impact results include: the voiced commitment of the GOJoven Network through a press conference, publicizing the alliance between GOJoven and OSAR (Sexual and Reproductive Health Observatory) in order to work together to reduce adolescent teen pregnancies in Guatemalan communities; a delegation of GOJoven Fellows’ active participation in seven focus groups in order to give strategic input into a meeting about the progress of the Cairo Program of Action; participation of GOJoven Fellows in a consultation about integrated sex education, “Sexuality: an integrated look into the human rights of youth and the road to Cairo +20,” held by the “Güipil Weavers” platform, which is implemented by associated organizations of UNFPA Guatemala.
In December, 2012, GOJoven Fellow Elmer Cornejo (Belize 2009) wrote a series of TV spots for the Centaur Cable Network in Belize on a variety of Sexual and Reproductive Health Topics, including the recent ICPD Global Youth Forum in Bali, Indonesia. Transcripts are available in PDF below:
PDF: Global Youth Forum
PDF: Same Sex Marriage
PDF: HIV Testing
PDF: World AIDS Week
The Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven) of the Public Health Institute held the second national meeting of 2012 from October 5-7 in Comayagua,Honduras. All of the GOJoven graduates from 2004-2012 were invited, with the 2012 team participating in an additional national training on October 3-4; in the end, 27 fellows attended the meeting.
Achievements: fellows who attended the national meeting were able to,
- identify opportunities for collaboration among different fellows in order to improve communication and strengthen the fellows’ network
- renew their commitment to the program
- identify new tools to advocate at the level of local governments and decision-makers
- share stories of personal and professional growth, and what it has meant for them to be a GOJoven Fellow
About impact results: the fellows discussed the importance of sustainability of the impact of the program for 2013 and 2014, the results of which discussion are,
- the creation of a structured coordinating scheme for the next six months
- the creation of a facilitating team in Tegucigalpa that will direct the sustainability process for the program
- the selection of a representative in each region through a nomination process
- the identification of “Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy” as an urgent issue the GOJoven Honduras team will be working on in the coming two years
- the creation of an action plan with results and activities for each region, which regional teams will be implementing in the next six months
Danessa Luna, the founder of Asociación Generando in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, shared her work on empowering and teaching adolescent girls to defend their human rights with the Public Health Institute (PHI). Danessa’s NGO provides comprehensive services to women who have experienced or are at risk for sexual violence, including legal support, psychological and medical care, social support and temporary shelter to women who are victims of violence. Another facet of the organization’s work focuses on educating women and girls about their health, sexual and reproductive rights, violence and fostering new leadership in young women. Danessa has a long history of collaborating with PHI. She graduated from GOJoven’s Training of Trainers and continues to be a key trainer for the GOJoven program in the areas of gender, violence prevention and sexual and reproductive rights. In 2011, Danessa was selected as an Fellow of the Adolescent Girls Advocacy and Leadership Program (AGALI), and for the past two years, the AGALI program has funded Asociación Generando to establish one of the only women’s shelters in Guatemala and also to provide girl-centered services at the shelter for adolescent girls seeking refuge from violent situations at home.
Asociación Generando also advocates with the Guatemalan government to implement the law against femicide, which is an increasing problem in Guatemala. On April 9, 2008, Guatemala passed the Ley contra el Femicidio y otras Formas de Violencia contra la Mujer [Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women or “Femicide Law”] and although the passage of this law is considered very positive on a symbolic level, Danessa shared with us that impunity for these crimes continues and that the number of femicides continues to rise year after year.
A graduate in Sociology at San Carlos University in Guatemala, Danessa is currently a Fellow of the International Fellowship Program (iLEAP) inSeattlefunded by the Seattle Foundation, where she joins a network of change leaders that are committed to building strong global partnerships for social change.
GOJoven Alumni Fellows Gabriela Flores (Honduras 2006) and Nancy Levia (Belize 2009), along with GOJoven staff Esther Tahrir and Denise Dunning, will be participating in the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Global Youth Forum in Bali, Indonesia, Dec 3-6 2012.
If you are between the ages of 14 and 25 you can participate in the Forum virtually. You can register as a virtual delegate and follow the conference presentations online and contribute directly using web, mobile and social media to submit your recommendations on the Forum themes.
Moderators will ensure that the recommendations from virtual delegates are heard and as an official delegate, your name and the country you are from will be included in a report to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
To register as a virtual delegate click here
GOBelize collaborated with the Global Fund sponsored UNDP initiative to develop and implement a training of trainers (TOT) for 14 Youth for the Future (YFF) staff and 6 GOJoven Fellows. The TOT focused on providing a targeted response to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in out-of-school youth between the ages of 15-24. GOBelize and Global Fund plan to collaborate in future youth-focused TOT to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. For more information on the Global Fund/UNDP Stop the Spread of HIV/AIDS Initiative in Belize visit: http://tinyurl.com/9uusgf5