EVA partners with UNESCO to train youth advocates under the O3 Project
The UNESCO-Sida funded education for health and wellbeing project: Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) seeks to support the delivery of good quality Family Life HIV Education (FLHE) that empowers adolescents and young people, and builds agency while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes and competencies required for preventing HIV, reducing early and unintended pregnancies and eliminating gender-based violence.
As part of the capacity building and development for young advocates under the Project, Education as a Vaccine (EVA) and partners in the O3 Project conducted a 2-day FLHE, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Advocacy Workshop for Young Advocates on the 11th and 12th of March 2019 to increase their capacity on policy/evidence-based advocacy and social accountability using the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’s (PMNCH) “Advocating for Change for Adolescents” toolkit.
EVA leveraged on the PMNCH- Advocating for Change for Adolescents project’s toolkit they adapted to the local context to guide and train young people on advocacy. Their capacity was built to help young advocates map out target audience, indicators and broadly discuss strategic ways of implementation. The goal of the PMNCH project in Nigeria led by EVA as the focal point is to improve the policy environment that upholds the rights of adolescent and young people to quality sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services.
EVA’s Program Coordinator, Eno-obong Ekwere, in her introductory remarks, stated that the workshop was important in order to identify various challenges young people face in accessing SRHR information and services in their states and opportunities available for advocating for improvement on youth SRHR. According to her, “The O3 project will support the delivery of life-skill based Family Life HIV Education (FLHE) and ensure that schools are safe and healthy for adolescents and young people in and out of school”.
The 2-days training attended by 23 young people including UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPNet) had different sessions led by young people that addressed key topics including SRH and ASRH context in Nigeria, Nigeria HIV and SRH policies, identifying advocacy targets and developing advocacy messages, and use of social media for advocacy.
During the training, different facilitators led the various sessions to build young people’s capacity for effective advocacy. In one of the sessions, Itoro Ekanem, a Program Officer with the Advocacy and Policy Influencing Unit facilitated a session on Nigeria HIV and SRH Policies. According to him, “youth advocates need to get facts right and understand certain policies in order to carry out effective evidence-based advocacy”. He further discussed different policies that exist e.g. National Policy on the Health and Development of Adolescent and Young People in Nigeria, approved in 2007, and Adolescents Health Policy.
In order to assess the knowledge gained by the participants, a pre and post-assessment tests were conducted. The results showed that the capacity building workshop was a success as participants were able to understand the current situation of SRHR of young people in Nigeria, identified the various challenges young people face in accessing SRHR information and services in their states and developed an advocacy work plan and strategy that will help them in advocating for the SRHR of adolescents and young people to be prioritized in major policy processes in the country.
“This workshop has enlightened me on how to use my voice and effectively advocate for young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights”, Edino Victoria, Youth Advocate, Barrack Youths and Adolescents Network.
With the knowledge gained at the meeting, these young advocates are expected to be more effective and strategic at the utilization of advocacy and social accountability as a collective tool in supporting the implementation of the O3 project and prioritizing the FLHE/SRHR needs of their peers.
The O3 Programme also aims to secure and sustain strong political commitment and support for adolescents and young people’s access to comprehensive FLHE information as well support the delivery of accurate, rights-based and good quality life skills-based FLHE programme that provides knowledge, values and skills essential for safer behaviours, reduced adolescent pregnancy, and gender quality.
Written By: Bayo Ewuola Olanrewaju