By raising awareness of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Choice for Youth goal is to improve human rights and gender equality. In spreading knowledge, producing resources for young people, and making youth advocates key to their organisation, Choice For Youth aims to inform young people and make them SRHR advocates in their respective communities.
Choice for Youth’s Youth Do It resource is a toolkit consisting of two separate tools, each with a subset of resources on how to put young people at the heart of advocacy work – for this purpose the focus is specifically on doing so in the context of Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights, but the tools kit is transferable. One is a guide offering 6 themes under which there are articles, information and suggestions for exercises in how to apply the knowledge and methods in order to make youth projects actively Youth led. These themes are Meaningful Youth Participation, Youth Led Advocacy, Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights, Youth Friendly Services, Awareness Raising, Leadership, each with extensive subtopics. The other is a more general toolkit with separate resources and guides on Fundraising, Strategic Planning and Facilitation. The resources are suitable for all types of organisation which are interested in making their work inclusive or led by young people.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights awareness should be the starting point of any cohesive community, as sexuality and associated prejudice, discrimination and gender stereotypes of course affect power dynamics and group behaviours. The first part of this tool is a step by step guide for young people to learn about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and right to protection from abuse all round. The focus is on SRHR, but also encompasses general children’s rights. Giving the young people in your organisation a safe and confidential space to learn, discuss and consequently make personal positive choices and changes around SRHR, is a great tool to acquire. It is therefore also important to follow up an SRHR discussion with an open door policy, allowing for an ear when someone comes with an issue or question and in need of support or guidance. It’s essential to carefully frame a workshop around SRHR to encourage parents and carers to let their children attend, despite any cultural, religious or personal beliefs and family dynamics. So is setting a scene for the workshop, where all genders are welcome and have the choice over their own body and sexuality, and responsible enjoyment thereof. For those who subsequently express an interest in further spreading awareness about and becoming and advocate of SRHR, they can be supported in their learning with more tools from the tool kits. There are possibilities to learn everything from public speaking and presentation to fundraising and SRHR policy lingo. In addition to talking about SRHR and how this affects equality and cohesion in the community, this can be a good way to open up a conversation about the involvement and influence of the youth members and participants in the organisation. Do you consider yourself a youth led or orientated organisation? If so, how do you treat and communicate with your young people in the organisation? How involved in the organisation are they? How involved would they like to be? What do your younger members think about the work and the hierarchical structure of the organisation? Are their opinions valued and applied in the development of your work? If you find that there are blind spots, where your youth involvement is tokenistic, then perhaps consider how to address is. It’s easy to involve young people in name only; to do work for them but not with them. It is disengaging being met with a notion that you don’t know what’s good for yourself, and it reinforces an experience of children and young people have to earn their seat at the table by being pliable, prodigious or by merely gaining in age. Luckily the other key part of Choice for Youths toolkit is a step by step resource for organisations, to reflect on their approach to youth work, spotting the blind angles and well intentioned tokenism. The guide outlines methods to change organisational structures and logistics to reflect the accessibility for young people and ways for the youth to become the core drivers and creators of the policies and support work aimed at them. In addition to likely resulting in more effective and engaging youth work, this is a great way to give your youngest generation self confidence and skills to manoeuvre the adult world and become excellent advocates and activists of the future.
Choice for Youth is an Amsterdam based NGO, which has existed for nearly 25 years. Starting its journey as the Council on Youth and Population, existing in the shadow of the World Population Foundation (the predecessor to Rutgers). Consisting of 14 young people from diverse grass roots organisation and activist backgrounds, the youth council was created to raise awareness in the Netherlands, about reproductive rights and sexual health rights across the world. In 2005 the youth council opted to become an independent foundation, changing its name to Choice for youth and sexuality, and has grown consistently in size and reach since then. The organisation, now merely named Choice for youth, use their benefits as a well established Global North based NGO, to support 6 partner organisations in the Global South on the African continent. They do so by sharing power and facilitating access for all young to the safe and inclusive spaces created by their partner organisations. With the many years of experience in youth led work, the organisation has built up expertise and networks which allows them to move from being a knowledge sharing partner to one with the ability to broker spaces and opportunities for young people. This informs their strategy and associated goals for the next 5 year phase of development. These include making sure that: -Young people are equal partners in sexual and reproductive health and rights decision-making processes -Youth-led organizations are sustainable and connected -Organizations working on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights address effectively the needs to young people -Funders structurally provide accessible resources and opportunities to youth-led organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights -Relevant decision-makers structurally integrate meaningful youth participation and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in law and policy shaping processes
The resources available via Choice for Youth’s - Youth Do It hub are many and detailed. Look at the resources and find an entry strategy to avoid losing oversight.