Rights, Respect, and Responsibility: Amplifying Youth Advocacy in Grenada
Patrice Daniel, Youth Network Coordinator
To realize our full potential, young people need a guarantee of our human rights and the ability to be full participants in the global, regional, and national policies that affect our lives. That's why MYX, IPPF's global youth movement for sexual and reproductive rights, provided the IPPF/WHR Youth Network with the opportunity to not only learn about young women's empowerment in a two-part webinar series, but also provide members with the opportunity to apply for funds to amplify youth advocacy in their country.
This week, MYX and the Youth Network awarded Grenada’s Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) the $1,500 USD prize for their 3Rs (Rights, Respect, and Responsibility) project. 3Rs will aid the YAM’s efforts to promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, particular those of young women.
In accordance with the Youth Network's guidelines, members were required to use the material presented during the webinar series as the basis for their project proposals. Nicole Cheetham, Director of the International Youth Health and Rights Division at Advocates for Youth, served as the presenter. She took the webinar attendees through advocacy fundamentals to the intricacies of global-level advocacy processes within the United Nations. Nicole also provided us with crucial information on which campaigns have been successful at strengthening young women’s rights.
Described by KizzyAnn Abraham, Youth Program Coordinator at Grenada Planned Parenthood Association (GPPA), as a “great opportunity to receive much needed insight on advocacy,” the online series provided information that was both concise and easily applicable. In addressing advocacy basics, Nicole clarified that while some activities are important to an advocacy campaign – such as raising public awareness – these activities do not technically qualify as advocacy. Too often, people fail to recognize that advocacy must target decision-makers and work toward political and social change.
Youth Network participants came to appreciate the importance of being knowledgeable about UN-level conferences, documents, and agreements. Indeed, the international policies one's government has publicly endorsed can powerfully impact the lives of the country’s youth, and provide a foundation that can shape the work of youth on the ground.
An added benefit to sharing a virtual training room for an hour and a half was that young people from across Latin America and the Caribbean were able to connect with one another. The opportunity to interact was a prized one, especially since the desire for regional trainings and youth capacity building were endorsed by the Youth Network at last year’s Regional Council meeting. These tools and gatherings allow our Youth Network to better advocate for all young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights.
After the webinar series ended, everyone who attended was given the opportunity to submit a grant proposal for a young women’s empowerment project of their choice. Entries from young people across the region were considered, but YAM Grenada’s 3Rs project was ultimately awarded the prize.
YAM Grenada’s advocacy campaign involves directly lobbying the Ministry of Health to scale up its efforts to implement a national policy on adolescent sexual health. The YAM will use the funds to expand their reach into schools and strengthen the commitment of GPPA to adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, this recently revitalized youth movement’s objectives are closely aligned with those of MYX.
KizzyAnn noted, “It was clear to us that, in order to revive our movement with a strong advocacy voice, this project needed to be tied as closely as possible to IPPF's expectations of its partners in the field.”
Congratulations to YAM Grenada! These Caribbean youth were able to successfully translate the webinar content into a campaign to bring about meaningful change in their country. Establishing a national policy on adolescent sexual and reproductive health will go far in ensuring that young people, particularly young women, can access the information and services we want, need, and deserve.