Empowering young change makers to support youth leadership in Zambia
With approximately 1.8 billion between the ages of 15 and 29, young people comprise about 25% of the world’s population, making them a key demographic which is hard to ignore. Now, more than ever, investing in young people has become one of the most critical and sustainable ways to bring about change. In Asia and Africa particularly, young people now account for more than 30% of the population, with this number rising even higher in least-developed nations. As we move toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, it becomes crucial to fulfil young people’s inherent human rights and scale up efforts to bring about meaningful youth participation and leadership.
Young people are often left out of the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes and policies that directly influence their lives. This also happens in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). This further prevents them from voicing their needs, realities and opinions, and from making safer, healthier decisions about their own bodies. According to Nathalie Metheuver, Executive Director of CHOICE, “Involving young people in SRHR-related program and policymaking has proven to increase positive results, and to be empowering for both young people and adults. When young people are included in the development of youth-related initiatives at every stage, policies and services can be more effective and ultimately, more sustainable”.
In order to actively advocate for their rights, young people need support to develop their knowledge and skills. Ars Donandi and the Ariadne Fund generously supported a Training of Trainers on Youth Leadership training in Lusaka, Zambia to empower young change makers and build strong youth leadership skills in the region. The training was designed and delivered by CHOICE in and was hosted by CHOICE’s partner organization Generation Alive, a feminist organization in Zambia working to advance SRHR for all women and girls in the country.
The training attracted young participants from various organizations including Generation Alive, Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia, Plan International Zambia, Afya Mzuri, Trans Bantu Zambia, Edutainment Health Foundation and Step Up Zambia, among others. Moreover, participants came from both urban and rural settings, and many are part of key demographics within the SRHR world- such as the LGBT community as well as people living with HIV/AIDS.
Following a methodology developed by CHOICE, the Training of Trainers is essentially created for young trainers and facilitators, who in turn, will train other young people in youth leadership skills. The training defines Youth Leadership skills as means through which young people can direct and influence other people’s opinions and behavior in a positive manner, as well as create an environment in which they can personally reflect on the kind of youth leader they themselves want to be. As this was a Training of Trainers, the training provided space for participants to develop their own (context-specific) training sessions and to facilitate these sessions in a safe space. They also got to practice the skills they had gained in a game called ‘Juncture’, developed by CHOICE as a learning tool to advocate for the SRHR of young people.
Based on the participants feedback, the training was extremely well received and appreciated. Most of the participants felt they had a clearer understanding of what it means to be a youth leader and felt the training helped them understand better as to what kind of youth leader they see themselves becoming. Moreover, participants felt empowered and confident as facilitators to further cascade the training to young people in their local communities and in other regions in Zambia. One participant shared, “The training was very helpful…I am (now) able to do a training all by myself and have learnt the power of working as a team”.
CHOICE for youth and sexuality along with Generation Alive Zambia would like to express their sincere gratitude to our donor, Ars Donandi and the Ariadne Fund, for funding this training and hope for their continuous support in achieving young people’s SRHR all over the world.