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Youth around the world today are tweeting, blogging, posting and using every means available to holler about issues that move them. As the United Nations calls for “Youth Civic Engagement”, we’re reminded once again of how essential the engagement and participation of youth is to achieve sustainable human development.

“No one knows better than them (youth) the issues at stake or the best way to respond. That is why I am calling on young people to speak out – and I am urging leaders to listen”. – Ban Ki-moon, UN General Secretary

Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) recognizes the vital role that youth play in influencing social change. Advancing women’s sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) requires young people to push against existing barriers that disempower women from making reproductive health choices of their own.

Participants at the ASAP's Youth Advocacy Training Institute, 2014
Participants at the ASAP’s Youth Advocacy Training Institute, 2014

ASAP’s Youth Advocacy Institute builds the capacity of youth champions across Asia to do just this. Through these workshops, young advocates for sexual and reproductive health rights are devising their own creative methods to promote women’s autonomy over their own bodies.

Here are a few highlighted projects that ASAP’s youth champions developed this year. They serve as examples of the potential of youth to influence social change.

Krishti Aung Leona (Bangladesh): Menstrual Regulation for All

Krishti Aung along with the Bangladesh Assembly of Youth Advocates (BAYA) conducted a one day training on “Menstrual Regulation for All”. Although abortion is restricted in Bangladesh, Menstrual Regulation (MR) is used to terminate early pregnancies. The aim of the project was to educate and create social awareness about MR services among young girls and women living in Dhaka slums and those working in garment factories.

Yu Yang and Sun Xiaoting (China): Feminist Forum on Safe Abortion Advocacy

Youth Champions Yu Yang and Sun Xiaoting started a feminist forum to increase visible discussions on gender and women’s rights issues in China. The objective was to create a dynamic feminist network in China by providing thought leadership to women’s rights issues in mainstream and social media and research on whether safe abortion issues have been set on women’s rights agendas of Chinese feminism organizations. They created a platform on Chinese Social Media. www.renren.com/585708176/profile,

Sarah Soysa (Sri Lanka): Video Documentaries

ASAP Youth Champion Sarah Soysa developed two short video documentaries ‘Its Her Right- to Mr. President’ and ‘Ensuring Rights: Improving access to SRHR’ to highlight the need for safe and legal abortion in Sri Lanka.

San Hoang and Nguyen Thi Thao (Vietnam): 3S – VALENTINE COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN

3S-Valentine is a communication campaign that aims to raise awareness of young people about Sexual Rights and Safe Sex, with the intention of empowering them through improving their knowledge and practice regarding Sexual and Reproductive health. https://www.facebook.com/whynot.taisaokhong

Sarah Jane Biton (Philippines): PAC Forum

Sarah Jane set up a “Women’s Rights Collective” a Post Abortion Care (PAC) advocacy forum to raise awareness on abortion rights among Filipino women. As part of the small grant she also set up a safe abortion blog and Facebook page. The project aims to contribute to raising local awareness regarding abortion rights by conducting community education sessions.

Minal Singh (Nepal): Interaction Program with Media Journalists on Safe abortion and Women Rights

Minal interacting with journalists during her workshop.
Minal interacting with journalists during her workshop.

Minal organized an Interaction Program with Journalists on Safe abortion and Women Rights with the objective to advocate for the need of women to be able to fully exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and to sensitize media on their role in promoting women’s reproductive rights in Nepal.

Ignatia Alfa Gloria (Indonesia): Mainstreaming SRHR Issue Towards Young People Through Website

Under this project Ignatia organized SRHR and creative writing workshops. The classes were held in partnership with the Communication Science’s lecture in University of Atma Jaya Yogyakarta. A series of workshops were conducted every Saturday from April 2015- May 2015; 15 young people who are passionate about gender and sexuality issues and are willing to write about it participated. See more at: https://asap-asia.org/blog/youth-in-indonesia-create-their-own-future-or-talking-about-sex-and-gender-in-indonesia-youth-champion-ignatia/#sthash.9GovqHYa.dpuf

Preet Manjusha (India): Research Study: impact of the law against sex determination on women’s access to safe abortion in India

Preet conducted a study with private, authorized abortion providers to see why they are denying services to women. Its aim was to understand the complex impact of anti sex selection programs on access to safe abortion in western Maharashtra. This research study was featured in the international journal ‘Reproductive Health Matters.’