Youth Power for Gender Equality and Sexual Rights.
Gender equality and sexual rights are fundamental priorties for young people and core to realizing a just and equitable world. Young people have the right to live free from violence, discrimination, and stigma and to access youth-friendly, affirming, reproductive health care and services. Sexual and reproductive health and rights is for all people, of all genders, and we believe that this vision is achieved through youth-led systemic change.
Our bodies, identities, gender and sexualities are frequently subject to discrimination and violations. We empower young people to change attitudes and behaviours, as well as services and policies, to advance and uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equality.
Gender inequality is a cross-cutting issue that affects everyone, including men and boys, but especially women, girls, transgender and gender-nonconfirming youth. Our experience shows us that young girls are often balancing adult responsibilities, whilst also subject to the removal from formal education, disenfranchisement, and lack of economic opportunity. They are vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence; child, early and forced marriage; unplanned pregnancies; and sexually transmitted infections. These factors can prohibit them from negotiating full control of their own bodies, ultimately impacting on their rights, future and livelihood.
I have learnt a lot and, have gained self-confidence, and I now teach the things I have learnt to other girls too.Neema
How we do it.
Working with young people.
Since 2018 we have reached over 380,000 young people with our sexual health and rights work, and many more when we include our work on gender equity. Our young volunteers are dynamic, behaviour change agents, reaching out to communities to raise awareness and supporting other young people to take control of their health and rights.
In India, we delivered sexual rights training to 8,850 young people through the MTV Nishedh programme. Pre and post training surveys showed an improvement of young people’s knowledge of contraception from 64% to 92%.
In Uganda, an endline evaluation from the Get Up Speak Out programme showed an increase in young people with a positive attitude towards available Sexual and Reproductive Health services of 96% (compared to 67% at baseline), and 89% of young people reporting being consulted in local decision making on the Sexual Rights.
In Nepal we reached 45,990 women and girls and 14,461 community leaders as part of our efforts to reduce practices related to Chhaupadi – a traditional practice of discrimination and isolation of women and girls during their menstruation period. We saw a 73% reduction in worst practice incidents.
In Tanzania, our groundbreaking Mabinti Tushike Hatamu peer-education programme reduced the vulnerability of out-of-school girls facing the risk of HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and gender based violence. Training on entrepreneurship and sexual health reached over 7,000 girls.
Research, data and accountability.
We have applied our youth-led data driven accountability models and youth-led research models to help provide young people with the evidence they need to influence decision-makers and hold them to account on sexual health and rights, and gender equality commitments, at the local, national and global level.
- We trained and supported 56 accountability advocates across India and Tanzania to drive accountability for family planning and gender equality, working with a wide pool of 375 young changemakers.
- We worked in partnership with UNFPA ESARO and young people across East and Southern Africa to development recommendations for how to strengthen youth-led accountability for sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality.
Youth civil society and influencing.
We work in partnership with youth-led organisations to build coalitions and networks to campaign and influence policy and practice:
In Zambia, the National Alliance on Monitoring the Implementation of Eastern and Southern Africa – Comprehensive Sex Education, a coalition of 30 youth focused and youth led SRHR organisations – coordinated by Restless Development – has been noted by UNESCO as the only alliance of CSOs advocating for improvement of ESA in the region.
We are working with partners across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to build stronger and more inclusive organisations and movements supporting young women to claim their sexual and reproductive health and rights. This includes young women who identify as LGBTQI; those living with a disability; those living with HIV; and those affected by displacement.
In Nepal, we worked with communities to address homophobia and discrimination, empowering LGBTI youth through the Colours of the Rainbow project. As well as training over 4,500 people in LGBTQI+ awareness, we also supported civil society organisations to meaningfully engage with young people, and helped strengthen 52 LGBTQI organisations. Our endline evaluation found that 21 local decision making bodies were promoting LGBTIQ participation in the local decision making process.
In 2021, our US Hub launched the Feminist Action Lab, an online advocacy hub, providing training on feminist advocacy and intergenerational activism. The co-created lab covers a range of topics including climate justice, feminist movements and gender based violence. There were over 3,400 online users in the first quarter alone.
In the UK, we coordinate Youth STOPAIDS, a youth-led movement campaigning for a world without AIDS.