Feature story

Empowering young people in Latin America to participate in Global Fund proposals through national mechanisms

07 April 2011

Participants in the workshop learn how to engage youth in the development, implementation and monitoring of Global Fund proposals. Panama City, Panama. 2-4 April 2011

Young people working on AIDS issues in Latin America are learning how to engage youth in the development, implementation and monitoring of Global Fund proposals through national mechanisms.

“We want to be able to speak on our own behalf. This workshop will give us tools to advocate at country level to ensure the creation of youth-centred programmes that reflect our needs,” said Ivens Reyner from the Youth Coalition—an international organization of young people committed to promoting adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive rights—and one of the young people responsible for organizing a training.

The event, which took place in Panama City from 2-4 April, is part of a series of regional workshops organized by the Youth Coalition and the Secretariat of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Global Fund Board of Governors recognized in its meeting in late 2009, the need to include more young men and women in the various processes both at global and national level. In recent months youth representatives from the Africa and Asian Pacific regions have been attending similar workshops in Cape Town and Bangkok respectively.

This workshop will give us tools to advocate at country level to ensure the creation of youth centred programmes that reflect our needs

Ivens Reyner, Youth Coalition member and organizer of the training

The young people who participated in the South Africa and Thailand workshops subsequently joined the Country Coordinating Mechanisms in their countries. They also participated in the proposal development and even become sub-recipients of the Global Fund grants.

“Young people taking ownership and demanding involvement in national programmes and Global Fund processes is core to ensure we reach universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in Latin America,” said UNAIDS Regional Director, Dr Cesar Nuñez.

Over three days, participants learned about how the Global Fund works. From the perspective of their fictional country “Youthland”, and using interactive methods and role play, young participants simulated all the processes involved in grant implementation from proposal development to disbursement of funds. They also developed advocacy and communication plans to be able to engage with their national partners.

“UNFPA is supporting this joint initiative between the Youth Coalition and the Global Fund because it is strategic to ensure that youth and their sexual and reproductive rights and health are adequately incorporated in the Global Fund programmes,” said Cecilia Maurente, Youth Regional Focal Point on behalf of Ms Marcela Suazo, Regional Director of UNFPA for Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are an estimated 1.8 billion adolescents and youth in the world today aged 10 to 24 years, accounting for more than a quarter of the world's population. Some 18% of the total population in Latin America is young people.

“Now we have 20 knowledgeable young people going back to their countries ready to engage with their Country Coordinating Mechanisms and national programmes to take the lead in developing new HIV prevention efforts for youth,” said Ricardo Baruch from the Youth Coalition and organizer of the training. “With young people on board we can make it, we can reach zero new infections in Latin America.”