You are here

Young people set the agenda at IAC 2016

For too long, young people have not considered themselves active partners at international forums. The 2016 AIDS Conference in Durban has created a different dynamic - young people are taking part in full force under their umbrella group, the Durban Youth Task Force, to put on the agenda adolescent and young people’s health issues and get them addressed.

“We have always been references or testimonies, but this time around we are taking centre stage. We want to be partners and we are going to hold each other accountable on health issues that affect us,” said 27-year-old Brenda Lebogang Matsumi of AfriYAN South Africa, during the youth pre-conference event at which young people from over 15 countries met from 16-17 July. “At this International AIDS Conference, no one is dictating to us what to say and how to say it, and whom to say it to,” said Lebogang.

Under the banner of the Durban Youth Task Force, young people from a variety of organizations from across the world organized a youth pre-conference event. Their agenda is to ensure that young people participate meaningfully in the 2016 International AIDS Conference. During the two-day meeting, young people shared their experiences, challenges and lessons learnt in delivering sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in their respective counties. From this, they prepared a Youth Action Plan to be presented at the conference.

“It is our Action Plan. We are going to make sure that we are accountable for delivering it; we only need support from other stakeholders,” said 24-year-old Joelle Reid of AfriYAN’s Uganda Chapter.

One of the highlights of the Youth Pre-Conference event was an appearance by Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a prominent South African singer and champion for adolescent health. Chaka Chaka advised young people to work together, network, learn from each other and strongly push their agenda. “You need to collaborate with each other irrespective of where you are coming from,” she said. “I believe in young people because you are the leaders of today!”