GOBelize is pleased to share their News Bulletin highlighting their activities through April 2016.
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July 13, 2017
GOJoven International deeply mourns the death of one of its alumni Fellows, Luis Joel Rivera Perdomo, who was also a member of Asociación GOJoven Honduras since it was created in 2013. Luis was murdered the night of July 12, 2017, a few meters from his home in the city of Tegucigalpa. According to information provided by his family, Luis Joel had received death threats in the recent past. We condemn his murder and demand that the Government of Honduras seek justice for this case. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for minorities, including Human Rights Defenders.
Luis was a Fellow in our Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven) in 2006, as part of a team of three young leaders representing Honduras. He was a Sociology student and member of the Board of the Sociology Student Association at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH, in Spanish). He also performed in theatre productions and worked as an event organizer. He was an excellent young leader who, since joining GOJoven, used art, advocacy, and capacity-building to fight for the Human Rights of youth in Honduras and Mesoamerica, particularly sexual and reproductive rights.
As a part of his life’s work, Luis founded and ran his own theater company, Sombra Roja, in which he used community theater to raise awareness about and promote HIV and gender-based violence prevention. He also used his company to give other young Hondurans an opportunity for advancement and activism.
Luis supported GOJoven International in training new young leaders in Honduras and to create our 10 year GOJoven Anniversary Video to share our message about GOJoven’s most significant impacts. We always admired his sense of humor, his service ethos, and his true creativity, vision and commitment to positive social change and justice. He was, without a doubt, a man of great courage and love for life and for others.
We deeply mourn the death of our friend and colleague, Luis Joel, and we will continue to fight in his name against the horrendous and tragic violence and injustice in his country. Yesterday our GOJoven family lost a dear brother. We will not forget our partner in this fight, Luis Joel. Rest in peace.
May 12, 2017
Every year, Youth Tech Health (YTH) hosts YTHLive, a convening of professionals in youth advocacy, health, and technology in San Francisco, California. This year, Susanna Moore, Project Manager for GOJoven International, and Olivia LaFond, Administrative Coordinator for Global Health Leaders, attended the conference representing their respective programs at the Public Health Institute (PHI).
In partnership with FHI360 and IDEO.org, YTH hosted a Design Challenge, encouraging conference participants to explore human-centered design methods and design a solution to a challenge addressing adolescents’ reproductive health needs.
Together, their team designed a menu of youth-led social media campaigns aimed at sparking conversation among and collecting feedback from peer groups about birth control. Targeting adolescents with diverse interests and values that use social media platforms in communities around the world, their solution makes conversations about birth control fun and accessible. Susanna and Olivia teamed up with two other conference participants from Baltimore-based Healthy Teen Network to tackle the challenge. Over the course of 48 hours, they interviewed many young people to learn more about their social media habits in discussing reproductive health and contraceptives. As a team, they zeroed in on a main theme which became the platform on which they designed their solution: teens value trust when engaging with others about their reproductive health.
Susanna, Olivia, and their teammates from Healthy Teen Network presented their solution to the YTHLive attendees during the Closing Plenary and were selected as the runner-up in the Design Challenge. They hope to build upon this rewarding experience and advance their technologically innovative design in the future to improve adolescents reproductive health.
Article by Susanna Moore, GOJoven International, and Olivia LaFond, Global Health Leaders
“With the creation of the new GOJoven Network, GOJoven takes another step forward in its history and seeks to strengthen its actions via regional and international collaboration.”
-Ricardo Baruch, Activist and scientist
Belize City, April 2017— Leaders from the GOJoven Guatemala, GOJoven Mexico, GOBelize and GOJoven Honduras Associations convened in Belize City on April 8th and 9th, 2017, to dialogue and build consensus around the creation of a new, formalized GOJoven Network. The Network is made up of the four GOJoven Associations, which committed to sustaining it through the active participation of their members, employees and volunteers. Together they are dedicated to redoubling their efforts to promote comprehensive youth development in the Americas, with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and rights and human rights.
The new Network will operate based on the same values that guided the GOJoven Program during its more than 13 years of work in the region, namely: We can change the world by investing in youth; different points of view make us stronger; and systems change when youth get involved.
Taking into account the four GOJoven Associations’ common objectives, priorities and history—having been founded by alumni of PHI’s GOJoven International capacity-building fellowship program–, the creation of this formal network was seen as an important next step for GOJoven. One of the Associations’ common priorities is addressing and reducing the major inequities in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) that youth face in the Mesoamerican region. This strategic decision was based on the results network mapping, a SWOT analysis, and surveys and interviews conducted with internal and external GOJoven stakeholders.
While the SRHR challenges posed by the current local, regional and international political and financial contexts may make progress on these issues difficult, they also represent an opportunity for the GOJoven Network to use its over ten years of experience to push for unmet needs to be addressed. With this goal, the Network seeks to bring visibility to and strengthen the joint efforts already underway by its members, by way of the following initial objectives:
Currently in their strategic planning phase, the Network will begin to operate officially in June 2017, with the implementation of its governance structure and work plan. During the current interim period, each GOJoven Association will continue to be represented by those who attended this founding meeting: the Executive Director, a Board of Directors member, and another alumnus member of each respective Association, by which they were selected. The following people also participated in this founding meeting to provide technical assistance: Esther Tahrir and Susanna Moore, GOJoven International Director and Project Manager, respectively, who lead GOJoven International at the Public Health Institute; Kathy Hall, Program Director at the Summit Foundation as GOJoven funder; Ricardo Baruch as SRHR network expert and facilitator; and GOJoven Evaluator, Julie Solomon.
Authors: Susanna Moore and Esther Tahrir at GOJoven International/PHI
“Like” our Facebook pages to learn more about the GOJoven Associations:
GOJoven Guatemala: www.facebook.com/LiderazGOJovenGuatemala/
GOJoven México: www.facebook.com/gojovenmex.oficial/
GOJoven Honduras: www.facebook.com/redgojovenhonduras/
GOJoven International: www.facebook.com/gojoven.org/
March 8th, 2017
GOJoven International, based at the Public Health Institute in the U.S., trained over 200 young people as leaders in adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) between 2004 and 2012. Since then, the GOJoven alumni fellows and their allies in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico have trained an additional 174 young leaders by adapting and using the GOJoven Model. With this approach, these young leaders are using their newly formed independent, youth-led organizations – GOBelize, GOJoven Guatemala, GOJoven Honduras, and GOJoven Mexico – to multiply the number of SRHR champions who are working together to advance and uphold the rights of those most in need. Who are these young leaders and how do they plan to step up their commitments to young women and adolescent girls in 2017?
On International Women’s Day, GOJoven International is proud to highlight some of its young women leaders who are spearheading these efforts on behalf of GOJoven in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Meet them and get to know their vision for the women and girls in their communities, countries and the world! Their messages on this historic day inspire us to “be bold for change and equality”. You can also find out more about all the GOJoven leaders in the region and their collective actions for change that are advancing gender equality today and every day.
Jinna Rosales, Executive Director of GOJoven Honduras
“As a woman leader in Honduras, I want to promote the prevention of violence against women, prevent obstacles to accessing justice, education and health, and workplace discrimination, and foster protection of sexual and reproductive rights. This year I am dedicated to strengthening processes that guarantee equality, justice, liberty and diversity and protect the human rights of women and girls in Honduras. For me, International Women’s Day is important because it represents a historic day of women’s struggle and empowerment around the world and has an inspiring legacy of fighting for equitable and just treatment of women”.
Ana Lourdes Tojín, 2005 GOJoven Fellow and Executive Director of GOJoven Guatemala
“As a woman leader in Guatemala I want to see a more humane country for us as women, where we can walk freely and be respected as adult women and girls. This year I will work in the name of women and girls of my country, carrying out activities that educate others about sexual and reproductive rights and especially the right to choose. For me, International Women’s Day is important because, thanks to the brave women of my country and the world who have fought for their rights, I can now enjoy those rights too and raise my own voice to ensure they are a reality for others.”
Marta Honoria Castillo, 2007 GOJoven Fellow and Training Coordinator for GOJoven Guatemala
“As a woman leader my vision is that women and girls can exercise their right to choose, without coercion or imposition by anyone. That’s why my commitment for this year is to continue speaking out about and promoting sexual and reproductive rights.
International Women’s Day is very important because it recognizes working women, those who day in and day out are fighting for equality with men, both in society and their personal lives. This goes back in history. Our society needs to know that the U.N. officially proclaimed March 8th to be International Day of Women’s Rights and World Peace, in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Currently, as we are witnessing how world events are raising the profile of women’s issues, we take this opportunity to commemorate the historic struggles of women who have come together to collectively fight for equality and for labor, professional, personal and education rights. No more sexual violence against women, no more forced pregnancies among girls, no more imposition on my choices by conservative sectors.”
Jacinta Chan Pech, 2008 GOJoven Fellow and Legal Representative of GOJoven México
“As a woman leader in my community in the Mayan region of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico, I want to propel the leadership and empowerment of Mayan women. This year I will dedicate my efforts to increasing the participation of women and adolescents in exercising their right to equal opportunities. For me, International Women’s Day is important because it recognizes all women regardless of their social status, economic position in society or ethnicity; it recognizes all women as equals. We should celebrate all the women of the world! Indigenous women, native women, ‘Let’s raise our voices and be heard’, ‘T’aanako’on ka u’uya’ako’on’.”
Cecilia Kay Nicté Chablé Berlín, 2007 GOJoven Fellow and member of the Board of Directors of GOJoven Mexico
“This year I’m dedicated to empowering adolescent and young women to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights by motivating them to use the media and public forums to express their voices, their lived realities, and their expectations about sexual and reproductive health in their communities.”
Nancy Leiva, 2009 GOJoven Fellow and outgoing President of the GOBelize Board of Directors
“As a Belizean leader and woman, this year I will continue to speak out against gender inequality in all its forms. I will continue to teach my students to treat women and men equally, to respect our differences and remember that we need each other on mutual and common ground for our country to develop.
I will continue to be the teacher that does not tolerate when boys say things like ‘stop acting like a girl’ or ‘stop playing sports like a girl’ because this one statement is packed with discrimination, as if being a woman is a bad thing. In my classroom, I will continue to emphasize that real men support women and that women should not be afraid to be who they are and speak their mind and demand the respect they deserve. I will continue to take on leadership roles because I want to and because I can, not to prove that women can lead just as well as men but because I want to lead and it is my divine right to lead.
I will continue to be the outspoken daughter, niece, sister, aunt and cousin that has influenced my family to the point that they too are being more open minded and are speaking out against any form of discrimination against women. I feel proud to have influenced my 14-year-old niece and my aunt to write an essay denouncing gender-based violence simply because they wanted to and felt they could write what they think. They say it has a lot to do with my way of thinking and how it has rubbed off on them. I think that is a good thing! It is the small details that make the difference. One stepping stone at a time we can all make a difference.”
GOJoven International, PHI’s flagship adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) program, was specially invited by the Colombian Ministry of Health to present its award winning GOJoven Model and outcomes at the IV National Forum on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, held September 22-23, 2016, in Bogotá, Colombia.
The government of Colombia is interested in partnering with GOJoven International to replicate the GOJoven Model as a part of Colombia’s adolescent pregnancy prevention national strategy. The country’s Ministry of Health began discussing the potential collaboration following a presentation by GOJoven’s Founder and Director Esther Tahrir at a regional meeting about Family Planning and the Zika Epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean in June 2016, where she highlighted GOJoven’s unique Youth Leadership Development approach to improving AYSRH. That meeting was held in Lima, Perú, under the auspices of the IBP Initiative and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Colombia’s IV National Forum on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention brought together over 100 participants from across the Colombia, including government, UN, and non-governmental organizations and a diverse group of youth and adolescent leaders who are spearheading efforts with their peers to reduce adolescent pregnancy in their municipalities. Susanna Moore, GOJoven International’s Project Coordinator, and Esther Barajas, GOJoven Guatemala’s Board President and GOJoven alumni fellow, were the featured international guests at the Forum. They shared the GOJoven experience through a high-level panel addressing: “Transformational Participation: Experiences of Adolescents and Youth”, which garnered the interest of participants from across sectors, including Colombia’s National Intersectoral Commission for the Promotion and Guarantee of Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
The National Commission brings together representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, the Presidential Office, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, the National Learning Service, UNFPA, UNICEF and PAHO, among others. Their mission is to harmonize the country’s sexual and reproductive rights-related plans, programs and interventions with their National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, while uplifting youth and adolescents both as partners and beneficiaries. GOJoven’s leaders are liaising with the Commission to share strategies and determine how the GOJoven Model could be scaled up from Central America and Mexico to Colombia and used to further strengthen and enhance the Commission’s ongoing work with local populations of youth leaders in the field of AYSRH.
The objective of the Forum was to create a space for analysis and reflection on national and international strategies for promoting adolescent pregnancy prevention. It took place during the Andean Week of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, which was celebrated in Colombia from September 19-30, 2016, with a range of public events aimed to build awareness around and promote strategies for reducing unplanned adolescent pregnancy. This year’s theme was “Sexuality without Mystery. Dispelling Myths and Exercising your Rights!”
September 7th, 2016 — Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
By Ivonne Miranda and Eva Burgos
Twenty-two countries gathered at the I Latin America and Caribbean Conference to Reduce Inequities in Sexual and Reproductive Health, held September 6th-8th, 2016, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The conference focused on three themes: 1) Access, quality and demand; 2) Financing and accountability; and 3) Partnership, inter-sectoral collaboration and advocacy.
The Conference was organized by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and its Salud Mesoamerica Initiative (ISM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC/LACForum), Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Colombian non-profit organization Profamilia.
Eva Burgos, Executive Director of GOBelize, and Ivonne Miranda, Regional Coordinator of the Department of Colon, Assembly Member and Member of the GOJoven Honduras Association Audit Committee, were invited by the Conference’s Steering Committee to serve as Country Delegates from Belize and Honduras, respectively, also represented GOJoven International at this high-level forum.
On the second day of the Conference, GOJoven participated in the booth area called the “Ideas Marketplace”, where Eva Burgos and Ivonne Miranda, with the support of the IBP Initiative, presented GOJoven International’s story to the audience, from its beginnings up to the present. They focused on how youth leadership training under the GOJoven Model is a promising practice for reducing inequities in sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Reaffirming youth leadership among other good practices in SRH, Ados May, Technical Advisor of the IBP Initiative’s Secretariat, shared the High Impact Practices in Family Planning (HIPs) developed by the IBP partner organizations with the support of USAID. Participants from Peru, Jamaica and El Salvador, among others, were some of those most interested in adopting the GOJoven Model methodologies in their countries.
The GOJoven presentation was deemed by many participants as one of the most useful and engaging presentations, as it offers a training model that can be adapted to the reality of many countries. Attendees were impressed by the fact that the program not only strengthens the young community leader in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues, but also strengthens their educational level, thereby providing communities with empowered leaders with improved professional skills. Such was the case of GOJoven Honduras alumna Ivonne Miranda, who presented her personal experience as woman leader of the Garifuna ethnic group who participated in the GOJoven program in 2009 in the Department of Colon. With a Summit Scholarship from the Summit Foundation, managed by GOJoven International, Ivonne was able to complete her university studies and obtained a Master’s degree in Psychology, specializing in Education.
In the case of GOBelize, as a result of their participation in the Conference they further strengthened their collaborative relationship with and the commitment of Belize’s Ministry of Health (MOH), particularly regarding the draft national law for sexual and reproductive health. Although the draft law had been tabled, the Ministry of Health pledged to resume its efforts with the aim of having it passed and implemented. Having been part of these discussions in Cartagena, the MOH later invited GOBelize to help convene a Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Ultimately, GOBelize was also elected to sit on this Commission, assuming an active role with the other national multi-sectoral stakeholders who will together consider, promote and propel the adoption of this regulatory framework for young people and adolescents’ rights, and for other marginalized populations in the country. After the Conference, the NGO Belize Youth Empowerment for Change (BYEC) also became a member of the Commission, under the leadership of another GOJoven Belize alumnus, Stephen Diaz (2013).
Moreover, the Conference proved to be a space for dialogue and partnership-building for GOJoven. The two representatives introduced the work of GOJoven in several parallel working meetings with the Vice-Minister of Health from Honduras and with international organizations working in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Population Action International (PAI), FP2020, UNFPA, the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Mesoamerican Health Initiative, and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). As a result of the meeting with FP2020, Ivonne Miranda was featured on the FP2020 online radio program and blog “Family Planning Voices”, where they highlighted adolescents’ unmet need for contraceptives in Honduras and her efforts towards achieving increased access. See the transcription here.
These two GOJoven leaders stood out as experts on the topic of youth leadership development for reducing SRH inequities, and are taking what they learned back to their countries to continue strengthening accountability and multi-sectoral efforts to advance the SRHR of the most vulnerable adolescents and youth. Both GOBelize and GOJoven Honduras saw immediate positive results of the increased visibility they gained for GOJoven at this high-level regional Conference. Learn more about the Conference content and check the archives and presentations here!
In 2015, GOJoven was selected as a Model Youth Leadership Program through a global survey coordinated by the Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) project, run by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) with the support of USAID. GOJoven was one of four youth leadership programs from all over the world that were highlighted by LMG in 2015, all of them working on different areas of youth and adolescent health.
This process stems from the work of LMG in collaboration with the USAID Population and Reproductive Health Office, and it seeks out models and strategies for youth leadership from around the world that have shown positive results for youth, organizations and communities, and which help improve the provision of health services. The selection process looked for programs that fulfilled the following criteria: had shown positive impacts, focused on youth health programs, aimed at improving youth health outcomes through leadership, developed leadership skills and knowledge on young people ages 10 to 29, and provided opportunities for young people to apply their leadership skills.
During the selection process, LMG interviewed GOJoven International staff to learn more about our approach and the key components of our model. Meeting all the selection criteria, as demonstrated during its 12-year history, GOJoven highlighted its unique training model and also its potential for replication and expansion—a process which is now taking place under the leadership of the GOJoven Alumni Associations in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico. Read more in the GOJoven summary posted on the Youth Lead Global website and learn about the other Top Model programs.
In 2016, LMG launched a second round in which seven additional programs were identified. They are currently analyzing all the selected programs in order to design metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of youth leadership models and develop recommendations for the implementation of such models. They expect to demonstrate that, when supported and nurtured, youth leadership programs and initiatives have a great potential for improving health outcomes and are an excellent investment for donors, governments and communities. Read here for more about LMG’s initial results on “What Works in Youth Leadership”.
We are pleased to be part of this documentation, analysis and learning process that is being carried out to advance methodologies of youth leadership development for adolescent and young people’s health. We thank the LMG team for their global recognition of the GOJoven Model!
GOJoven International releases its new bilingual Spanish-English video illustrating the power of youth leadership development as a tool for improving sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of youth and adolescents.
Through the video viewers learn that in challenging local contexts of high adolescent pregnancy and STI rates, sexual violence and other forms of gender discrimination, GOJoven youth leaders not only empower themselves, but also work to inspire their peers, elevate their families, and change the ASRHR policies, programs, services and social norms in their local communities, countries and regionally.
The video showcases how GOJoven’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Leadership Development Program and nascent local GOJoven alumni-run NGOs foster adolescent sexual and reproductive health improvements in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico.
GOJoven International celebrated its 10th anniversary with a Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Symposium and Anniversary Fiesta on March 29, 2016 at the Washington Inn Hotel in Oakland, California. Over the past decade GOJOven has equipped 250 young Fellows with the leadership, technical skills and networks needed to become change agents and work in partnership with other youth and adolescents, service providers and decision makers to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) in Mexico and Central America. Through the Fellow’s community action projects and newly formed local, non-profit Alumni Associations –GOJoven Guatemala, GOJoven Mexico, GOJoven Honduras and GOBelize–, they have created a multiplier effect, engaging over 35,000 youth directly through educational workshops and awareness-building and advocacy actions that are directly impacting ASRH programs, services and policies at the local, national, regional and international levels.
To highlight these important milestones and the positive impact of youth leadership on ASRH outcomes, GOJoven International convened PHI’s California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC), FACES for the Future Coalition and Youth Champions Initiative and local partner YTH (Youth + Tech + Health) to organize the Youth Leadership Symposium. Representing GOJoven were GOBelize Alumni Association Executive Director Eva Burgos (Belize, 2004) and GOJoven Alumnus Karina De la Torre (Mexico, 2008), along with youth leaders from the Bay Area and Mississippi representing the hosting organizations, Kathy Hall representing GOJoven’s primary donor, the Summit Foundation, and representatives of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GOJoven International’s Founder and Director, Esther Tahrir, served as MC and co-organizer of the event along with GOJoven Project Coordinator Susanna Moore.
Through a “Youth Speak” Talk Show and World Café, youth facilitators led discussions on urgent topics topics affecting youth locally and globally, including consent, confidentiality and cultural barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, vulnerability and sexual exploitation of at-risk youth and adolescents, dating violence, teen pregnancy and reproductive rights, and innovative youth-centered prevention strategies.
Over 60 participants engaged in dynamic, cutting-edge dialogue and mind-mapping about how to leverage youth leadership development toward improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) locally and globally. The symposium gave local, national and international young leaders the opportunity to voice their experiences and priorities regarding pressing ASRHR issues and engage adult allies and donors in a discussion on how to make their rights a reality.
Local and global experts from the health, education, technology, legal and philanthropy sectors echoed the youth leaders’ calls to raise young people’s voices to decision and policy makers and program designers to meet youth needs and improve their health and wellbeing. Using the hashtags #GOJoven10 and #SafeSexSaves, participants of all ages shared their hopes for youth around the world via a photobooth and created a banner with their dreams for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Follow the Twitter conversation here.
The Symposium was followed by a 10th Anniversary Fiesta featuring GOJoven pioneers, leaders and supporters who highlighted GOJoven International’s successful scale up and impact in Mexico and Central America. U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Office awarded PHI with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition congratulating GOJoven International on its 10th Anniversary and commending PHI and GOJoven on their dedication to improving ASRHR in Oakland and Latin America.
The event also included the premier of GOJoven’s new video that highlights how, even in challenging contexts of high adolescent pregnancy and STI rates, sexual violence and other forms of gender discrimination, GOJoven youth leaders not only empower themselves, but also work to inspire their peers, elevate their families, and change the ASRH policies, programs, services and social norms in their countries and region. The video was presented by its director and editor, PHI’s Joanna Hathaway.
The four new GOJoven alumni associations: GOJoven Guatemala, GOJoven Mexico, GOJoven Honduras and GOBelize, featured in the video and at the event, also shared video messages with words of congratulations and messages about the impact of GOJoven in their countries. On behalf of GOBelize Alumni Association, Eva Burgos presented the case of GOJoven scale up in Belize and, echoing other leaders who opened the event, made the case from a youth perspective for the value add of youth leadership development as a force for lasting improvements to adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.