Just as I was about to fall asleep a little after midnight there was a knock on the window of the car we were sleeping in, my friends and I were requested to go prepare late night tea for the mourners gathered and singing at the night vigil. Need we be reminded that we had been instructed to be up by 4am to sweep the yard and to start boiling water for the mourners to bath before starting on the preparation for breakfast and lunch.
Earlier when we had arrived the relatives were pleasantly happy that the daughter in law and her ‘helpers’ had arrived from the city to take over the hard labor. It was indeed hard labor and the fact that the reception we received had not been pleasant did made the work and experience much harder. I felt like crying more often than I had to say hello to anyone that arrived, not crying to mourn my father-in-law but because of the emotional abuse I was going through just because I was a daughter-in-law.
Day one was done a little after 1am and we surely were up by 4am to start on the chores. As some of my husband’s friends started assisting us with fetching water from the well so as to save our backs, they were soon stopped as it was not permitted to help the daughter-in-law to perform her duties. The same friends came over to assist in cutting the beast that had been slaughtered for consumption at the funeral lunch, but once again they were stopped because the cooking and the kitchen was not a place for men, that was the women’s duty.
At this moment I was numb, actually I thought I was but I was not ready for what was still to come. As tradition says, the daughter-in-law has to carry a bucket of water on her head and crawl to the grave with it. I thought it ended there, no one prepared me for anything more. As I finished pouring out the water and as I was about to get up I felt two whips strike across my back, they called it tradition.
Tinashe Madamombe is a freelance writer who is passionate about women's empowerment and development. She enjoys writing opinion feminist pieces that challenge the status core
Get to ACT! 2030 was a coincidence but it was an important one. From October 6 to 8 2017, a group of young
people interested in issues related to sexual and reproductive rights, HIV, sexuality, research and advocacy were gather by ACT! 2030 Mexico to attend the workshop "Data for advocacy".
Now it is the memory of an experience that was full of new information and new learning, which continues to transcend my day to day, as the acquired knowledge has been very useful for my research and advocacy work.
The central idea that I take away from that hard work weekend is the relevance of having data that allow us to have evidence for political advocacy. In that sense, for me the presentations that were given on international instruments that have taken into account the issues of interest were very important because they are a fundamental tool for advocacy.
Specifically, for my work within Fundación Arcoíris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual, knowing the Montevideo Consensus, a document considered the most progressive by the discussions that the feminist movement placed on its agenda, is relevant to the advocacy work related to gender and sexuality. In this regard, I emphasize the specific importance of the priority measure 36 of the operational guide which states: “Design policies and programs to eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the exercise of sexual rights and the manifestations thereof”.
On the other hand, given that I am in the research area of Fundación Arcoíris, knowing how to develop a research
protocol that aims to obtain data for advocacy is relevant and this was my favorite part of the workshop. Doing
research is something that I'm passionate about, however, we often don’t know what to do with the results we
get. Now, after the workshop, I consider that one of the aims of research is political advocacy and management
since in this way research contributes to social transformation.
By teams we were working, throughout the workshop, a research protocol. I believe that this activity was very
practical and allowed me to meet and collaborate with other organizations. Besides, it was very fun, it was
enriching since, at the same time that the theory was heard, we were applying it in our proposal in such a way
that we were able to write a problem definition, an objective, the rationale and we began to carry out a
questionnaire and the guide for a semi-structured interview.
Finally, I would like to mention that the mainstreaming of the youth perspective was interesting and I find it very
important since we tend to be a population that is little listened to and taken into account in decision-making
processes. Working with young people and for young people is very valuable because now we have to talk and
Thanks ACT! 2030 for this experience!
The 6th to 8th of October 2017 were days of recognition, alliance and preparation.
In Mexico City around 60 young people (between 20-30 years old) concerned about the defence of sexual and reproductive health and rights of LGBTI + population, women, men and adolescents, were gathered. 60 young people who were mobilized from their different states, there was representation from the north (Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Baja
California, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Tijuana); from the centre (Puebla, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Mexico City, State
of Mexico, Hidalgo, among others); from the southeast (Mérida, Campeche and Quintana Roo); from the west
(Guadalajara, Guanajuato and Querétaro); and from the south (Guerrero and Oaxaca).
The three days were of a lot of work, a very ambitious agenda that was achieved. The team of ACT! 2030 Mexico
presented to these representatives of civil society, some students, tools to influence the public policy of the
country; among these we can highlight social accountability, the Making it count curriculum, and especially the
research and development of data as a base to the claims made to the government.
The previous ones were very important approaches, mainly because they bring civil society organizations closer to alternatives to negotiate vis-à-vis with local governments, which is quite interesting due to the process of change that the Mexican public administration has undergone.
Personally, as a teacher and close to the beginning of ACT! 2030 Mexico, it was exciting and satisfying to meet
so many young people who work hard to contribute to this society, which demystifies the idea that "young people
are apathetic or disinterested of their environment".
The experience in this workshop has taught me that there are still things to improve, both, in the way that we mobilize and in the tools to make ourselves heard; the technique
used during the workshop of combining academics and activism shows promising results, in addition to making
visible issues that for social reasons we usually do not touch. The point, perhaps, is not to see the government
totally as an enemy but as an actor with whom one must sit down to talk. Finally, it is worth highlighting
recognition for the achievements made by the ACT! 2030 Mexico team in its work to participate and influence
I hope very much that this example of preparation, guidance and accompaniment among peers will be replicated
in other alliances, networks of civil society organizations and activists, I repeat, it seems to me that this is a worth
proposal in order to achieve common objectives, since civil society organizations are close to people and its
perspectives are worth to take up.
By Juan Pablo Romo
The first step to pursue social change is to build coalitions of people that seek the same goal as you do, for me that was the opportunity to acknowledge human rights activists from the whole country during the ACT! 2030 Mexico workshop.
From Friday to Sunday, the common goal was one: to learn about data based advocacy in the sexual and reproductive rights agenda. I could barely call myself an “activist”, my loose experience within the area is about legal analysis of court cases, law and public policy from Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico during my span as research intern in the Latin America Programme of Planned Parenthood Global.
The diversity of profiles working together during the workshop can be described with a single word: fantastic. From feminists, HIV awareness activists, lawyers, medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists, public policy experts from a wide range of ages and places of origin fills me with hope. As the communication persists and we can find common ground involving ourselves in the Sustainable Development Goals, I’m sure that Mexico can be a champion in the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Agenda.
Even though the workshop’s length was about less than 25 hours, the gap of information was vast and great. As an instance of some of the information we received: implementation of the SDGs in the local agendas; the situation of sexual and reproductive health in Mexico; data based advocacy; qualitative and quantitative data; research strategies; social accountability; research ethics; UNAIDS activity in Mexico; data analysis, to name just a few even though I have listed many of them.
As I stated at the beginning, ACT! 2030 is the perfect opportunity to merge talent in order to achieve a better chapter for humankind. This new chapter shall be one where the Sustainable Development Goals become the basis for the future.
By Andrés Gaeta.
During the first week of October, young people from all latitudes of Mexico met to discuss the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the follow-up to their implementation using research as the main tool.
The development of research from a youth perspective is a paradigm shift that questions knowledge and places youth at the centre, with the possibility of measuring and sharing the problems we experience on a daily basis; research available to young people. To research a rigorous methodology is needed; however, there are many ways to carry out studies from the community, far from just studying the community.
From this idea, we had the opportunity to rethink how access to information and technologies can help us to overcome economic and geographical barriers. We built a space from where we carried out pragmatic research approaches, with direct objectives towards the modification or implementation of public policies, from the measurement of the application of protocols or health programs. One of the key elements for the integration of Mexican youth perspectives is the involvement of social activists from different regions of the country.
ACT! 2030 Mexico achieved the above when including young people who live in the northern region of the country, who live dynamically attached to the neighbouring country, with a construction of citizenship far from centralist logics. As well as involving young people from the southern region, where the challenges of multidimensional poverty and the recognition of indigenous peoples are greater.
However, despite the contextual differences we all share violence based on gender, discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as ethnicity and the deficiencies on the health systems to reduce the vulnerabilities of youth in each region of the country. Towards the closure of the activities the sense of network was strengthened, where not only an affirmation of the triumphs of social activism from a latitude different from ours was achieved, but also a kind of support to the knowledge that the difficulties are shared, with a genuine recognition of the experiences and knowledge of the young people.
Every day I condemn myself for not being able to help her .Tragedy fell and as she was sleeping on the floor -the man that her mother brought home that evening got off the bed and raped her. She was drunk and in the spin of time her daughter became prey to some night predator. I see the vision, the images so close I weep at times. The voice of this stranger haunts me and within the background I hear her groans. It is a shame that even after hearing about such an incident I remained quite because I lacked vivid evidence. At least I could have dug information in order to save a soul.
In Africa, across Europe and within Asia women and girls are victims to human trafficking, femicide and intimate partner violence. Gender based violence is a global reality. It is a collective responsibility to stop child abuse; date rape and child marriage. Sexual assault is still on the peak because of people like me -individuals that mind their own business and are self-centered. It was until a spirit of advocacy birthed inside me and I became an activist to a movement, ‘Leave No One Behind: End violence against Women and Girls.’
Being part of a team that seeks to defend women and girls, I observed how as women we have been raised to be conservative and never assertive even with issues that affect our well-being. In conversations about Sexual Reproductive Health most women discarded need to negotiate for safer sex. Patriarchy has taught women to take orders never question the actions of men, whether they are being beaten or attacked verbally.
By reflecting on shared experiences women and girls vowed to be each other‘s watch dog through a sisters’ keeper oath. We took advantage of social gatherings to raise awareness on issues that affect women and girls. This was through music festivals and church congregations. Reality is men are beginning to understand the dynamics of womanhood and are partnering to stop violence against women and girls. To be sure with continuous efforts and community partnership we will end Gender Based Violence.
By Amanda Makombe
“We want Comprehensive Sexuality Education," young LGBTQ+ people in Asia and the Pacific have said.
Youth Voices Count (YVC) coinciding with the opening of 9th Asia Pacific Conference of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Vietnam releases two videos featuring young LGBTQ+ people demanding comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
“Young LGBTQ+ are amongst the worst affected by the absence of CSE. They not only have to negotiate their own dilemmas about their own sexuality and gender identity but also have to face a society that vehemently despises their differences”, says Bella Vongvisitsin, Chair, Youth Voices Count.
Young LGBTQ+ people around the world face numerous challenges including bullying, stigma, discrimination, physical and sexual abuses which leads to self-harming behaviors including suicide as a result of not having access to information and knowledge on gender, sexuality, gender expressions and sex characteristics and sexual and reproductive health. Bullying and harassments is also a result of lack of knowledge on these issues as young people are unaware of how to negotiate the concepts of gender, sexuality, gender expressions and sex characteristics with their peers.
“Strategic and sustainable measure needs to be taken at the very local level to ensure that all young people have the right to access knowledge on SCE. It is about the right to highest attainable health, right to education and right to lead equal, equitable and fulfilling lives” says Niluka Perera, Regional Coordinator of Youth Voices Count.
The videos developed in Sri Lanka and the Philippines features the plight of young people in general and young LGBTQ+ people in particular in the absence of CSE. The videos also feature decision makers calling the governments and policy makers to integrate age appropriate CSE to school curricula to ensure sustainable provision of CSE to young people.
The videos are supported through the Youth PACT by HIV Young Leaders Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The videos are developed by young LGBTQ+ people ensuring the ownership of the advocacy.
Today the 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This day also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. This year the theme is ‘Leave no one behind’.
According to the UN Secretary General’s report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination. On the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.
While other cases of extreme violence such as female genital mutilation/cutting have declined. This by 24 per cent since around 2000, the prevalence remains high in some of the 30 countries with representative data.
In his message UN Secretary-General António Guterres said every woman and every girl has the right to a life free of violence.
“Yet this rupture of human rights occurs in a variety of ways in every community, particularly affecting those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. Around the world, more than 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives; 750 million women were married before age 18, and more than 250 million have undergone Female Genital Mutilation,” he said.
Sadly only just over half of women between the ages of 15 and 49 who are married or in a relationship make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations and use of contraceptives and health services. That statistic is based on available data from around 2012 for 45 countries, 43 of which are in developing regions.
The UN posits that achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
According to Secretary Guterres it’s time for united action from all of us, so that women and girls around the world can live free from harassment, harmful practices, and all other forms of violence.
The PACT is inviting young people aged 16 to 30 to send any one of the following:
(a) An essay, opinion piece or news item on any of these themes:
(b) A video interview with a gender based violence or sexual and reproductive health champion in your community or video on anti-GBV activities (you can use your smartphone! 5 minutes maximum)
(c) Pictures on how your community will be marking the 16 days of activism against gender based violence or any events related to sexual and reproductive health.
(d) A picture of your local leaders and their two sentence message on the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.
For more information and submissions email
Content should NOT have been published elsewhere.
Selected written submissions can be paid UP TO US$50 while selected video submissions can get paid UP TO US$70.
Deadline for submission of content and/or proposals is 30 November. Content received after this will NOT be considered.
Young people are at the center of HIV epidemics, and we cannot bend the curve of the epidemic without the prioritization and participation of young people as beneficiaries, partners and leaders in the HIV response. The Lancet Commission Report (2015) shows that HIV prevalence among young people and adolescents account for almost 39% of all new infections worldwide while AIDS-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50%.
Find below a Joint Statement of youth-led and youth-serving organizations working with and for young people, particularly key populations and living with HIV and the advocacy report.