Global Youth on A Mission- The IPPF Emerging Leaders Youth Summit

Last month FRIDA nominated several of its grantee partners to take part at the ‘Emerging Leaders Youth Summit’ in Oslo. One of our grantee partners from Jamaica was selected to attend. Here are her reflections: 
The Emerging Leaders Youth Summit is a new youth initiative started by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), in an effort to involve young people in human rights activism as well as begin the chain of sustainable development for the future and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights globally. The summit was held in Oslo, Norway from September 27th-28th and included forty (40) participants from all over the world and many different arenas. Individuals from the arts, young politicians, actors, disabled community and gender specific agencies were all present at the forum and provided a wealth of knowledge and experience to discussions. The conference was diverse as it had presentations and discussions and well as opportunities for us to unwind and really get to know each other.

For an organization that has a key objective focused on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, this conference could not be more relevant or important. The conference was an eye opener to Jamaica’s status and how developed we are in terms of the information and action being done on the issue of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. I came back with not information to share but a drive to continue doing the work that I have been doing because I know that I will not be alone in this fight for equity and rights. From this conference we were able to come up with key areas, that as young people we believed needed more attention. These areas included Culture, communities, media, health, sexuality education just to name a few. Not surprisingly, Jamaica fell into most of the categories that needed improvement and attention.

In taking it a little closer to home, Day 2 of the conference focused on the regions of the world and the issues that were common to all the countries within the region. We were placed into groups and were asked to develop from the previous day’s discussion, three areas, that as a region we will invest in and try to improve together. Access to Sexuality education was one of the main issues that were common to all countries within the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. However, being the only Caribbean person, I spoke not only on behalf of Jamaica but also on behalf of the Caribbean. Building a greater sense of community within the region was also of major concern and effort is now being made to be more inclusive in the activities that would be held in each region, so that we could offer support by any means necessary and have not only a physical space but also a virtual one to discuss and share ideas.

I’m Glad I’m A Girl has taken back from Oslo, key areas of concern such as culture and informal education which was not previously been given much attention and we are now in the process of modifying our mentorship plan so that we address the issues surrounding a country’s culture and how that prohibits or allows growth through Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. We are a youth-led organization on a mission and I am continuing this race by hosting a forum to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2012 that would seek to build on the discussion held in Oslo as well as develop a resolution moving forward for young Jamaican girls. In an effort to become more inclusive as a country, all the key players involved in advocacy have been invited to participate in our day-long event and share what they know so that we can work together.

In evaluating the conference, I would say that I am very honoured and appreciative for even being selected to attend and share my opinions and experiences and recommendations. The conference, though short was one that was filled with intense dialogue that will manifest into global movements. Decisions made on key areas of focus were done in a democratic way and all individuals present were given the opportunity to share. There is however room for improvement as we grow this initiative over the years. I do believe that we could include more individuals, especially from places such as the Caribbean, which is oftentimes misrepresented. I do also think that more information should have been given about our capacity to now act as emerging leaders within the IPPF and what that would mean for the next three years.

My participation in this event enhanced the work of my organization as it reinforced the fact that what is being done by the I’m Glad I’m A Girl Foundation is not only relevant in Jamaica but all over the world. Through the knowledge gained and by targeting on the change makers of tomorrow, I do believe that we will be able to create and mould young people who will become more vigilant about their rights as well as willing to do whatever it takes to see these changes come to fruition.

My most rewarding moment was being selected to represent the Emerging Leaders at the Global IPPF Meeting in South Africa this November. I was humbled by this selection as I went to this conference not with an agenda to only raise awareness for my organization but to come up with a global movement that would target those less fortunate. To be selected means that others saw this passion and embraced it. My most challenging moment was to stand in front of the contingent and express my passion into a one minute speech telling them why I think that I should represent them in South Africa. Thankfully, it turned out well.

At the networking dinner on the night of Day 1, it was almost impossible to leave the conference without expanding networks and connecting people who would have been able to help you on your journey. This was beautiful as it gave us the chance to unwind and really get to know each other as well as to advocate about what it is that we really love. In introducing yourself and throughout the duration of the conference you were given the opportunity to raise awareness about your organization. Most individuals drew on experiences that they had from working with their organizations when explaining a point, thus reinforcing what it is that they do.

Overall, this experience enforced my dream of being able to genuinely offer help and support to those around me and I am grateful for this once in a lifetime experience. I do believe that with the selection of young people that was present, changes will be made and movements started. I anticipate what the future holds in this regard and I know that we will become the generation of youth to be remembered.

By Shanique Campbell
Chief Coordinator.
Cross-Posted from the ‘I’m Glad I’m A Girl’ Blog