Making Periods Normal – Educating on Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights

Young girls in different parts of Bihar often grow up with limited knowledge of menstruation and about their sexual and reproductive health rights. They often find themselves with incorrect information about their bodily changes. Sexual & reproductive health education is rare in schools and most often, majority of young girls do not attend any formal education.

Restless Development is the implementing partner of the project named ‘Making Periods Normal’, funded by Rutgers WPF. The programme is being implemented in the Munger and Bhagalpur district of Bihar, from 2014 to 2017. The target groups of this programme are women, out-of- school and in-school youth, men and stakeholders like ASHA, Aganwadi, community leaders etc.

The programme focuses on promoting knowledge among girls and women on puberty, menstrual health and sexual and reproductive health as well as creating conducive environment for them by engaging stakeholders.

“I preferred to stay at home during my menstruation to avoid embarrassment, I did not know how to use a sanitary pad or the hygiene practices during my periods. In 2015 I attended the menstrual health management session conducted by Restless Development, and learned about hygiene practices to avoid infection”
Mamta Kumar,  a 15 year old, is currently one of the 40 trained educators

Educators giving a session about SRHR

Restless Development conducted a needs assessment and its results are shocking:

  • 75% of girls across India don’t have any knowledge of what material should be used during menstruation and were majorly using cloths which were unclean.
  • 25% of out-of- school girls were not using anything during their periods.

To tackle the issue of insufficient information on menstruation, they are implementing a full programme specially designed for young girls on menstrual health hygiene management. The sessions are designed in a manner that give young girls the space to learn about body changes and speak about their health issues.
In order to provide a more holistic approach Restless Development includes trainings for teachers, mothers, peer educators and young boys in our programme. They created a pool of 40 peer educators specifically trained to provide knowledge and guidance to young girls in their communities and districts.

Raising awareness not only among women

“I did not have the courage to share my health problems with my mother, I did not have the confidence to do so.  A friend told me about the menstrual hygiene management session by Restless Development. I then understood the menstrual cycle & spoke about my irregular periods to the volunteers”
Rinku Kumari, 19 year old, Bhagalpur, Bihar

  • The number of girls who could report menstruation as a sign of puberty went from 4% to 58%.
  • 80% of young people involved in our intervention could identify problems experienced by girls during menstruation.
  • 92% of girls who used cloth during the menstruation said that they dried their used cloth in sunlight.
  • Awareness about sexually transmitted infections increased to 78% from 58%.

The objective of this initiative is to educate young people on puberty and menstrual health to help them adopt safe health practices, and educate teachers/parents, peer educators the importance of educating young girls on menstrual hygiene. Reaching more than 90,000 young people and having trained 40 educators on Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), restless development did not stop there and eventually designed a special mobile app called M-Sathi to make SRHR education accessible to all.

To know more about Restless Development: http://restlessdevelopment.org/our-work-with-girls-1

We invite you to follow this special blog series on the High Level Political Forum 2017 “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” to find out more about the action taken by citizens and organizations of the country presenting their Voluntary National Review on the SDGs

Malawi's Future is in the Hands of the Youth Entrepreneurs

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-5-34-34-pmMalawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its economy is worsening. Malawians are struggling to earn enough money to feed their families and two years of poor harvests means that people are hungry. There’s no welfare state, so earning a living is vital for survival.

To make matters worse, Malawi also faces a serious youth unemployment crisis and the highest working poverty rate in the world. According to a report of the National Statistical Office and ILO, in 2013 only 11.3% of the working population was in formal employment, and the figures for those under 35 are worse.

A large part of the population is left to fend for themselves with over 54% being self-employed. But what are the lived realities? The Building Bridges Foundation team discovered on the road in Malawi that there is hope for the landlocked “Warm Heart of Africa”.

The Road to Nairobi 2016 bus traveled around Malawi to meet 10 youth entrepreneurs working in a range of sectors in order to learn from their challenges and to get a better understanding of their experiences as entrepreneurs in one of the world’s most disadvantaged countries.

We met youth involved in fashion, improved seeds generation, water pipe construction and much more. These entrepreneurs proved to be change makers in Malawi who are not just creating employment for themselves, but also for others despite all the challenges they face.

Extensive power cuts, little education, corruption, lack of access to funding as well as scarcity of incubators and mentorship programs all hinder growth and sustainability. In the MY World survey, young Malawians expressed that education, healthcare, better job opportunities, affordable and nutritious food and access to clean water and sanitation are their top five concerns. The Malawian youth entrepreneurs we met were not only concerned with earning their own living, but especially with changing society and Malawi’s situation.

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“My vision is to give a future to those most in doubt and nurture them so that they do not merely become another statistic of African hardship and suffering,” said 15-year old Tawile. She expresses her feelings and hopes for the future through fashion and aims to unite Africa.

Other entrepreneurs are focusing on the challenges faced by Malawian girls such as child marriage, lack of education and sexual abuse. “Women are nurturing and can use that ability to take care of the economic situation in their home, community and country. They need to be empowered and inspired.”

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“The future of each and every nation is in the youth and entrepreneurship is the best way to go,” said Alexious. Young Malawian entrepreneurs should be empowered and supported as they are providing solutions for the country. To ensure youth are not discouraged and continue to change their circumstances, it’s important to understand the lived experiences. The Road to Nairobi team spoke to youth entrepreneurs in Malawi and asked what changes they would like to see:

  • Tadala T: Provide resources, information and opportunities on a merit basis, not because of who you know or what political affiliations you have.
  • Dumisani: Change the mindset of young people and the syndrome of dependency.
  • Ahmed: There needs to a better information system accessible everywhere where people can find all information related to entrepreneurship.
  • Alexious: Entrepreneurship should be part of the curriculum. It should be supported so that the youth are empowered.

Author: Charles Lipenga (Youth Ambassador Road to Nairobi project). Edited by: Annemarelle van Schayik (Research Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation) & Samantha Ndiwalana (Project Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation)

Immersive exhibition brings delegates closer than ever to refugees, displaced, and migrants during UNGA

The 71st regular session of the United Nations General Assembly met this past September, which also coincided with the High Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. In an effort to raise the voices are those most in danger of being left behind, the UN SDG Action Campaign brought two immersive technology experiences to the UN Secretariat Building, highlighting some of the most complex global challenges the UN faces. The particular focus on refugees, displaced people, and migrants allowed diplomats direct access and a deeper understanding of their everyday realities.

Above: Haider al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq speaking to Waleed, a young boy displaced from Mosul by violence now living in the Harsham IDP Camp. Below: Ewan MacGregor, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF poses with Mirna, young girl he met on his last visit to the Camp in Erbil.

The United Nations Virtual Reality film series and Portals immersive experiences enables people to access locations and situations they would otherwise never experience, providing context for some of the most complex issues the UN is striving to mitigate. By doing so, the Campaign hopes it will help transform understanding of critical global issues that must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals into a medium that is instantly empathetic and universally relatable.

Throughout the course of the week, Delegates were able to watch several films on the newly launched UNVR app (available at www.UNVR.org) about the everyday realities of refugees. Filmed in the Zaatari Camp in Jordan, Clouds Over Sidra recounts the new normal for a young girl from Syria, and Born Into Exile by UNFPA highlights the importance of providing safe births for mothers, revealing the amazing statistic that zero mothers have been lost at the camp. Beyond the Lake recounts the harrowing experience of a woman escaping violence in Burundi who is able to start a new life in the DRC through the support of UN Women safe spaces. UNOCHA also previewed Home, a new film documenting the UN Secretary-General’s humanitarian tour, highlighting the plight of refugees living in Lebanon, Syria and the DRC.

Delegates further had the opportunity to have full-body conversations with individuals living these realities, in real time, through the UN Portal, curated by the CampaignShared_Studios, and Bridges of Understanding. It is part of an international project with countless locations around the world by Shared_Studios. The UN Portal connected to the Harsham IDP Camp in Erbil, curated by UNICEF  Iraq, allowing delegates to speak to young Iraqis displaced by fighting in Mosul. It also connected to a refugee resettlement home outside of Berlin, where delegates could speak to people from Chad, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria in varying stages of asylum seeking, and to young people at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan with Turquoise Mountain Institute. In the afternoons, the UN Portal connected to Mexico City with an NGO called Proyecto Habesha that is supporting Syrian refugees in coordinates higher education degrees in Mexico.

This exhibition was made possible through the political support of the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Germany, the Government of Iraq, and the UN Department of Information.

The Campaign also shared the space with UNICEF’s Time Machine, an installation that  translating childhood memories from data into unique sound – giving visitors and delegates attending the UNGA an opportunity to understand the data on children currently available and areas that fall short.

YouTube Change Ambassador, Ingrid Nilsen joins panel on LGBTQIA rights at Social Good Summit

See the full event here: http://livestream.com/Mashable/events/6346857/videos/136197230

YouTube Change Ambassador, Ingrid Nilsen joined a panel at the 2016 Social Good Summit entitled “LGBTQ in the Media: Shaping the Global Equality Narrative.” The panelists, which also included fellow activists Jazz Jennings, Tiq Millan, Sarah Kate Ellis (President and CEO of GLAAD) , highlighted the importance of having LGBTQIA people and issues represented in the media, discussing what it means to be accepted and to empower people around the world who may not be able to see themselves otherwise represented.

They noted the absence of such representation in media during their own youth, noting that seeing similar representatives helps to reinforce identity, especially for children and young people who feel alone in the world without it.

Ms. Nilsen celebrated the fact that stereotypes are being “obliterated.” She commented how being a public figure and YouTube Creator means her identity is constantly challenged. She recognized her role in empowering others and breaking stereotypes. She thanked those who have laid the “foundation” before her, “planting seeds in a garden we may never see… seeds that were planted a generation before me, and I want to build upon that”.

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Photos&Video (c) K.Gutekunst

Is Women's Economic Empowerment important to you?

#empowerwomen247_call03The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment has teamed up with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Campaign to roll out a global MY World 2030 thematic survey called Empower Women 24_7. This survey aims to find out, from people around the world, what are the best ways to support women to get better jobs, earn more money and start or run a business?

The survey results will be guide the High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment who will release a report  in September 2016 containing key recommendations on how to accelerate women’s economic empowerment. The results will inform world leaders of what people think are the barriers to progress, what could help accelerate change, and HOW to address these challenges.

Justine Greening – High Level Panel Member and Secretary of State for International Development, UK – explains how unlocking the economic potential of women can help beat poverty.

Women’s economic empowerment is about unlocking the potential of women to earn more, gain better jobs and achieve financial independence. It’s about economic equality: such as closing the gender pay gap, increasing job opportunities, or access to loans. It’s also about breaking down barriers that hold women back: from discriminatory laws to an unfair share of unpaid home and family care. It’s a game-changer for development: because when more women get the chance to work, it makes their families, communities & countries wealthier.

The UN is carrying out this survey now because this year sees the start of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development: 17 targets to build a better world for everyone by 2030. Goal 5 is Gender Equality, which recognises that women’s empowerment – particularly economic empowerment – is critical in ending extreme poverty. The High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment is gathering evidence and ideas now to publish a report in March 2017.

Please take our short survey and help us to spread the word!

The survey is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese  at: http://empowerwomen.myworld2030.org

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This International Women's Day, add your voice for gender equality!

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On International Women’s Day, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign and YouTube are launching an initiative to reach new audiences and inspire awareness and action on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The #OwnYourVoice campaign is the first in a year long series of efforts to inspire people around the world to raise their voices for gender equality and take action by sharing how they will contribute to the cause. 

IMG_3208In its pilot year, the inaugural group of Change Ambassadors include seven international YouTube creators who are passionate about global issues. When combined, Jackie Aina (US, lilpumpkinpie05), Taty Ferreira (Brazil, AcidGirlTestosterona),  Hayla Ghazal (UAE, HaylaTV), Ingrid Nilsen (US, missglamorazzi), Louise Pentland (UK, Sprinkleofglitter), Chika Yoshida (Japan, cyoshida1231) and Yuya (Mexico, lady16makeup), represent fan communities comprised of millions of people around the world. 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a remarkable opportunity to build a more sustainable and equitable world for present and future generations. This project aims to show the integrative nature of this universal agenda while highlighting the complexity and diversity of each of the issues.

“By working with YouTube and the Change Ambassadors, we can help inform and inspire new audiences to support the implementation of the SDGs” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign. “The United Nations can also learn a great deal from the Change Ambassadors by analyzing the measurable impact of the campaign and seeing how their audience reacts to this new approach.”

Throughout the year, the UN’s SDG Action Campaign will work with partners across the UN system to help the Change Ambassadors learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as about the calendar of international events during which their influence could make strong impact. The creators will work to integrate the advocacy language into their own content programming on an ongoing basis and will also come together several times throughout the year to activate these topics through various angles.

“The ultimate goal is to empower current new media experts to get involved in issues that are important to the United Nations so they can take an active role in creating conversation and change with their highly engaged communities. We look forward to building this program together with YouTube and the inaugural group of Change Ambassadors over the coming year.”

Join in and take action to support gender equality: www.GlobalGoals.org/girls-progress

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

For more information please contact Kristin Gutekunst, Project Manager, UN SDG Action Campaign (Kristin.gutekunst@undp.org) 

YouTube Change Ambassador Forum on Gender Equality

The UN SDG Action Campaign collaborated with YouTube to invite seven YouTube Creators to the UN for a full day forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, and gender equality. 

The recently appointed YouTube Change Ambassadors included seven international YouTube creators who are passionate about global issues. These included Jackie Aina (US, lilpumpkinpie05), Taty Ferreira (Brazil, AcidGirlTestosterona),  Hayla Ghazal (UAE, HaylaTV), Ingrid Nilsen (US, missglamorazzi), Louise Pentland (UK, Sprinkleofglitter), Chika Yoshida (Japan, cyoshida1231) and Yuya (Mexico, lady16makeup).

The young women received briefs from several UN agencies, including UNFPA, UNOCHA, and UN Women, plus Project Everyone. They discussed the possibilities and challenges as female YouTube creators, and also spoke about the opportunities for empowering and inspiring women around the world through YouTube. The Creators committed to integrate the advocacy language into their own content programming on an ongoing basis and to activate these topics through various angles.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a remarkable opportunity to build a more sustainable and equitable world for present and future generations. This project empowered influencers in new media with the proper knowledge and confidence to further messaging around the SDGs to their respective audiences in their own words. The aim is to convert young influencers into long term activists for the SDGs and the issues they feel most comfortable in championing.

Jagriti Yatra 2015 – Train ride for a better world

Written by Sailesh Singhal

Ever wonder what can happen on an epic train ride across India to talk about the SDGs? Here’s your answer! I was a part of a Jagriti Yatra journey with 449 other young people to 12 destinations in India to share news on the SDGs and the World We Want. A Yatra takes us along the major challenges and help us shape our own ideas. It dives into the rich cultural heritage that our country is honored with and experience the shift in climate as the train proceeds from South to North. The Yatra is the germinating ground for ideas and exchange of culture. It is a place where individuals from different backgrounds come together and feel the responsibility of being the change. Fifteen years is what we have to create a better society and youth is the Only Catalyst. Yatra teaches us the best to way to contribute. Get down to the society and get our hands dirty!

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Journey with a Vision
Jagriti Yatra is a 15 days, 8000 km world’s largest national train journey, which takes selected youth to meet the role models who are developing unique solutions to India’s developmental challenges. It attracts 17,000 registrations through India and some parts of the world of which only 450 of the most qualified are selected for the journey. The train stops in 12 locations and youth delegates have the opportunity to personally meet exceptional change-makers who are transforming India.

Jagriti Yatra has been a transformational journey, which aimed for an equal representation of young women and men to achieve the Planet 50-50 by 2030. Jagriti Yatra had 40% girls and women representation in 2015. During my Yatra (Journey), I had been advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World We Want platform. Sustainable Development Goals need to be trickled down in the society through the youth body channels and it’s very important for youth to know about the SDGs. Unfortunately, a minority of us know about our vision of 2030. Thereby, it’s essential for us to show a clear vision of the next 15 years before we actually jump right into achieving the goals.

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Advocating about SDGs and World We Want 

Gender Equality is not a short-term goal. However, we need to start bringing a shift in the mentality of the people from today by talking about the equal opportunities.

Through the MY World 2015 Survey, we can see that of the 902,300 people who have voted in India, over 400,000 prioritized Equality between men and women, making Gender Equality the number 5 most prioritized issue in the survey.

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Young women and men are the carriers of our vision and we need to engage discussions with more young people. The role of young people is not only important as actors in attaining gender equality, but also as partners in creating a world that is equal if we want to achieve the goal of planet 50-50 by the year 2030. Campaigns such as HeForShe, MARD, #YouthForGenderEquality need strengthening as we move towards the SDGs.

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Founder of Innokul commits to Goal 5 vision

Life on the train is as busy as it gets! With a packed schedule of debates, presentations and conversations, and a blend of art, music and poetry, Yatris find themselves fully involved at all times. The Yatra sets out to be a life changing experience for us to catalyse that shift in mindset. Not only to you but through you, to millions of youth who are watching this expedition as it curves across this great and beautiful land of ours. When we hear how our inspiring role models have created their institutions surmounting all odds; when we hear of the stories of leadership and courage from our co-travellers, we discovered an India that waits to be unleashed. You are that dynamic spirit that will unleash a new society.

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Celebrating International Youth Day in Cameroon

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By FAHFED and Club des Jeunes Aveugles Rehabilites du Cameroun (CJARC) under coordination by Ntiokam Divine, Global Youth Digital Advocate post-2015 and MY World 2015

During International Youth Day 2014, Sought Out Cameroon gathered 3 groups for a discussion on the post-2015 agenda, the IYD2014 theme of Youth and Mental Health and MY World. Here is a report on what they had to say:

159Challenges for Visually impaired people:

  • They are marginalized because of their disability
  • They are not inclusive in decision due to the disability
  • They lack of materials in their institution
  • They are urban
  • They are well and duly registered under the Government

096Challenges for Young Women:

  • They are unemployed
  • They were not able to continue their studies
  • They need some materials for training
  • They need to reinforce their capacities
  • As volunteers of the Association, they are well and duly registered under the Government

053Challenges for Refugees:

  • Unable to feed themselves, attend school, face deplorable situation. Children are obliged to do part time jobs to sustain themselves and face child labour practices.
  • Couple of months ago while Eunice was a maid she lost one of her fingers with a knife during her exercise as house maid, and til this date she is still suffering the pain. When the crisis started in Central African Republic, her younger brother Salomon was in class 6 (African standard) , while she was in her 1st year in medical school.
  • Upon arrival in Cameroon, the UNCHR has been so helpful in getting their refugee status legalized, but unfortunately it is still on going due to huge number of applicants, which make things difficult for them as far as getting equal opportunities as other nationals.
  • They do not have a status yet, but are volunteers of the Association

In all cases, the representatives from these groups feel the MDGs did not affect them because they were not even informed. They feel the post – 2015 agenda will be different because it gives them the opportunity to get their voices heard and they could take action for their well-being and for the development of their society.

 

#REF4Women: Advocating for Women in Development through MY World 2015

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By Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo, Youth Advocate for MY World 2015

The Red Elephant Foundation (REF) is an initiative built on the groundings of story-telling, civilian peace-building and activism for gender sensitivity. We recognize the many different challenges women and girls continue to face in today’s world.

As such, we look forward to strengthen our actions in favor of gender equality within the international community. To do so, we have become official partners of the MY World Global Survey on the Post-2015 Development Agenda aiming to position gender equality as one of the top priorities of international development.

REF 1We believe global civil society plays a very important role in the construction and follow-up mechanisms of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Through MY World, which represents a fundamental tool to share some of our needs and interests as global citizens, we can have a real impact towards the adoption of new global development policies and actions led by the United Nations.

We are a committed group of over 70 volunteers of all ages living in 30 countries. We specifically work on the promotion of online and offline voting in the MY World Global Survey and we have developed different strategies and activities aiming to reach the most vulnerable and isolated communities.

REF 2Our strategy is simple: we create awareness on post-2015 processes among our volunteers and staff, which is expected to gather over 200 votes. We request them to do the same with their family members, colleagues and friends. Once they have completed this step, we ask them to engage in offline voting among civilians of their respective countries, especially in communities where there is limited Internet access. We particularly care about the participation of children and elders.

Continue reading “#REF4Women: Advocating for Women in Development through MY World 2015”