“YouthForce”: The Power of Youth at AIDS 2008
25 July 2008
With the up-coming AIDS 2008 in Mexico,
YouthForce has a chance to empower more
young people, advocate for critical issues
affecting youth worldwide, and further
pinpoint strategies for effective change.
It is often said that young people are the future, however they are also very much the present. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that today’s generation of young people is the largest youth cohort in history. Nearly half of the world’s population is under the age of 25, 85% of which live in developing countries.
Today’s youth are one of the most socially conscious and active segments of the population. Nowhere will this be more apparent than at the up-coming XVII Mexico City International AIDS Conference. As the largest international gathering on a health-related issue, the biennial conference has always served as a landmark event for the AIDS community.
Since the Barcelona AIDS Conference in 2000, YouthForce, a coalition of youth and youth-serving organizations, have been coming together to ensure that youth issues and youth participation are well represented at the event.
With the up-coming AIDS 2008 in Mexico, YouthForce has a chance to empower more young people, advocate for critical issues affecting youth worldwide, and further pinpoint strategies for effective change. Since January 2008, several different YouthForce sub-committees have been busy working on the various activities and initiatives planned for Mexico City. YouthForce key activities include the Youth Pre-Conference and Youth Pavilion.
In order to promote and strengthen young delegates' meaningful participation in the 2008 conference, the Mexico YouthForce is coordinating a three day pre-conference event, from 31 July-2 August for approximately 250 young HIV activists.
The Youth Pavilion will not only provide a space for young people to showcase their work on HIV issues, but will also support youth delegates at the conference. All young people attending the conference are invited to join the YouthForce activities.
For young people who are unable to attend the conferences there are also ways to get involved. To find out more about these opportunities visit AIDS 2008 Youth site (on english and spanish languages)
In addition to working on ensuring youth participation and effective programming at the International AIDS Conferences, the YouthForce helps young leaders advocate on issues relevant to them such as the rights of young people living with HIV and the criminalization of young sex workers and injecting drug users.
“The YouthForce is a wonderful example of groups from all over the world who work on HIV and sexual reproductive health issues coming together to create meaningful opportunities for young people to take action in their countries and communities,” said Joya Banerjee, Programme Coordinator and Cofounder of the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
“Through the YouthForce, young leaders are trained, they have an opportunity to network with each other, and learn how to create and run programmes and policies,” she added.