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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Supporting Concrete Youth Leadership

The day started with a short presentation by Dr. Sigrun Møgedal the Norwegian HIV/AIDS Ambassador who encouraged the young participants at the Summit not use old development language when thinking of their solutions and highlighted the unique perspectives of young people who "naturally link issues on health, development, poverty and human rights- which others have been struggling with for years".

Participants on day-two were highly focused on processes to refine solutions to the challenges addressed in day one and were tasked with developing concrete actions, including listing possible partners, deliverables and timelines to their proposed interventions.

"If the world will make room for youth leadership, then I am not worried about the future" Heidi Larson, Director of aids 2031 told me today as she highlighted the quality of the discussions on day 2 of the Young Leaders Summit.

A concrete action out of the discussions on funding today was a "5% for the Future" initiative, which would call for 5-percent of donor HIV funds to be allocated to youth-led organizations. It is proposed that this will be presented at the next Global Fund Board meeting and participants will seek endorsement from UNAIDS. "This would be an effective way to ensure that young people's initiatives are fully funded and supported" said Ricardo Baruch, a young leader participant and member of the aids 2031 Steering Group.

As inspiration towards real possibilities of building new leadership, a concrete outcome from the 1st Young Leaders Summit in 2008 was the development of the Global Health Corps (GHC). "We've been really excited to learn from aids2031, especially since Global Health Corps was inspired by discussion at last year's Summit and we can't wait to hear about the ideas and solutions that come from this year" said Barbara Bush, President and Dave Ryan, Executive Director. Their organization aims to strengthen the movement for global health equity and improve the quality of healthcare services. In its first year GHC is sending 11 cross-cultural teams of young people to work in Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania and the United States with organizations working in public health.

Near the end of the day, members of all the aids2031 Working Groups presented their outcome papers to the young leaders, who then actively engaged in a dialogue on each issue including hyper-endemic countries, social drivers, epidemiological modeling and countries in rapid economic transition.

James Chau, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador and Chinese television presenter who helped develop the aids 2031 outcomes on young people for the Countries in Rapid Economic Transition Working Group presented on his work capturing trends among young people and their use of information communications technology. "We must use traditional media and the new media of now to actively engage with the new new media" said Chau, as he advocated for innovative ways of engaging young people through technologies that are relevant and attractive to young people, in the language of youth and Asian countries.

Throughout the Summit, Hope's Voice is filming a promotional video in partnership with the Royal Palace and aids 2031 on young leaders with participants sharing stories on the challenges and successes of youth leadership "we are honored to provide a platform for young people to share their inspiring stories on leadership and addressing stigma and discrimination" said Todd Murray, the Executive Director of Hope's Voice. For more on Hope's Voice anti-stigma campaigns check out the Does HIV Look Like Me campaign.

At the end of the day participants are headed off for a reception on the royal yacht to meet with the advisor leaders they will dialogue with further tomorrow.

Make sure to check out the YouTube page for updates on key issues from youth leaders and their advisors:

Alex McClelland

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Young Leaders Developing the Agenda for the Future

Welcome to the first blog from the Young Leaders Summit in Oslo, Norway. Day one of the Young Leader's Summit has begun! As the Summit reporter, I will be blogging over the next three days to update on progress and outcomes as the meeting moves forward.

"We are here to talk about the future- but more importantly we are here to make the future" said Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit in her opening remarks welcoming the young participants. Over 30 young leaders from around the world have congregated today in Oslo, Norway here at the Losby Gods Hotel.

Summit participants kicked the meeting off with passionate discussions sharing stories, challenges and strategies from their local communities on HIV-related stigma and discrimination and youth leadership. Key issues addressed have been strategic engagement of the media, funding for youth led-initiatives, sustained youth leadership and better supports for the engagement of young people living with HIV.

Stephanie Raper, 17, of Melbourne, Australia shared her powerful story of being born with HIV and the intense stigma and discrimination her family has faced since she disclosed her diagnosis to her catholic high-school back home. Stephanie and other participants who are either living with HIV or directly affected by HIV shared their personal stories of how stigma and discrimination limits the human rights of people living with HIV and their ability to realize dreams and ambitions, including access medical services, care and restrictions on travel and mobility. Speakers highlighted that an injustice to any individual is an injustice to us all.

During the morning press conference, when asked by reporters why stigma and discrimination is still present after 25 years of the epidemic, Himakshi Piplani a law student from India and Summit organiser said "HIV-related stigma and discrimination acts as a mirror being held up to society and shows us all the inequalities of those who we push to the periphery, but young people are now standing up and highlighting the core values of our society that we hold strong and moving forward into the future with compassion and respect for human rights, which is essential for changing discriminatory attitudes".

Over the three days of the Summit young leaders will work together with advisors in an intergenerational dialogue to build connections and support to develop concrete action-oriented solutions to the complex challenges identified. Outcome recommendations will focus on developing concrete policy recommendations toward the aids 2031 Agenda for the Future report, influencing the Youth Force agenda for the Vienna 2010 International AIDS Conference, the development of a global mentorship programme for young people and a global young leader's fund. 

"Throughout the meeting we must remember our politics and our fierceness... we will not allow for policy decisions to be made without the direct input of young people from around the world" said Lateefah Simon of San Francisco, USA, one of the Summit facilitators.

During his opening remarks, The Norwegian Minster of Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim underlined the vital need for young people to develop their own solutions for the global HIV response, saying "you are changing minds and giving people hope, the struggle needs your ideas, passion and commitment".

At the end of the day all the Summit participants are going to a reception at Olso City Hall hosted the by the Mayor and then there will be a barbeque at Aksept a support and care centre in Olso for people living with HIV, where Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit regularly volunteers.

Young leaders will be video blogging throughout the summit, so make sure to check the YouTube page.

There also a Twitter page and Facebook account to keep you connected to the meeting.

I look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow!

 

Alex McClelland

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