Years of experience in conducting adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) programming has taught us some important lessons. Among them is the importance of youth engagement and leadership. Traditionally “leadership” is associated with adults in positions of authority, rather than with young people who are scarcely seen as decision-makers.
Research has shown that programs that are designed for, rather than with, the people for whom they are intended, are less successful. AYSRH programs should be no different – what if we go beyond engagement, and instead adults help young people develop and flex their leadership muscles? What if rather than adults engaging youth, young people engage adults?
In this LeaderNet seminar, we will explore how to operationalize leadership as a set of practical behaviors that anyone, including adults and young people, can learn. We will do this by asking adults to bring teenage students, daughters and sons, nieces and nephews and for youth to bring their friends, classmates, parents, and teachers into the conversation, online or offline. Share with us your and their experiences, wisdom, doubts and concerns about youth leadership in AYSRH activities. From this discussion, we aim to distill good ideas, advice and practices that we can bring back into our families, work and schools to improve AYSRH outcomes in out communities. For example, we hope to learn:
- What practices help young people engage with their elders in conversations about sexual and reproductive health – a topic that is taboo in many societies?
- What skills do young people need to organize others, young and old, to advocate for new policies, for changing existing ones, or for better implementation or enforcement of policies that ensure they have access to the services they need?
- How can young people, in a sensitive and respectful way, address dominant social norms that keep them from adopting healthy behaviors or seek help when they need it?
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