“It’s key to note that very many young people occupy the biggest percentage in the world, and much of their potential isn’t utilized or tapped into yet. “Constantly building the capacities of young people has several advantages, such as building their confidence, making them more aware of their rights, and placing them better placed to hold their leaders accountable, which in the long run contributes to their societies or communities.” Joanne Lunkuse, coordinator, Advocacy and Partnership, UYAHF.

Uganda, like many African countries in the Sub-saharan region, has seen an increase in the number of adolescents and youth living with HIV, despite the limited prevention and treatment efforts. According to a report from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Uganda had 53,000 new HIV infections in 2019, with two-thirds of those being AGYW.

Adolescents and young people in the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) region are rightly demanding a say in the policies and programs that affect their lives.

They are also taking the lead in advocating for improved HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, as well as providing critical information and support to their peers, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. However, expanding the reach and influence of youth and adolescents, particularly those living with HIV, requires a significant investment.

Following this background, UNICEF organized a co-created virtual training on advocacy and social media held at its Uganda office in Kampala specifically for Forty youth Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and HIV advocates across 10 countries such as Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Eswatini, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Namibia among others in ESA on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, to support their efforts in influencing policies, decisions, and actions in their communities, countries, and throughout the region, based on the global UNICEF Youth Advocacy Guide.  

Uganda was represented by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) Foundation for Male Engagement Uganda (FOME) and Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV (UNYPA)

The overall goal of this training was to help youth-led networks to strengthen their HIV and sexual reproductive health advocacy and social media engagement by providing them with a solid understanding of key mobilization, advocacy, and engagement principles.

By the end of the day, the youth-led networks had created actionable and measurable campaigning frameworks to accelerate their impact within their communities via strategic insider advocacy and community mobilization methodologies.