A Day in the Life of a Global SRHR Activist

Daniel Tobon Garcia is a Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights member from Colombia. He recently attended the United Nations General Assembly and Global Summit on Sustainable Development on behalf of Have You Seen My Rights? In this post he gives you an insight into his role as an advocate in New York, including solving questions on Facebook, participating in a panel meeting and attending a high-level meeting with UNAIDS.

This blog post originally appeared on the HYSMR? blog.

Today, our advocates of the Have You Seen My Rights? Campaign (#ACT2015 Phase 3 of The PACT) had a very busy and executive day. Our diary was full of meetings and responsibilities: we started with a Facebook Q & A session, then moved to a Panel on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) leadership in the implementation and accountability of the SDGs, and finally ended the day with a high-level meeting with UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luis Lourez, which was crashed by other directives and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sibidé himself, who came to photo-bomb us!

In the morning, our advocates had different meetings related to the promotion of #SRHR at different levels. Mimi, UNAIDS Youth Officer, was planning with Prateek from UNFPA, how our young leaders Aram Barra (from México), Peter Mladenoff (from Bulgaria) and Primrose Manyalo (from Zimbabwe) would present our commitments to the Global Strategy Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, Everywhere (which occurred on Saturday at the launch of the Global Strategy with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon).

At the same time, Primrose Manyalo, Kesaya Baba, Beyonce (with Tania from Espolea-Mexico and Molly -Restless Development supporting remotely) were leading the Questions & Answers Session, as expert advocates, about what’s missing in the SDGs and what young people can do about it. The Q & A took place in the #HYSMR Facebook Page where different people from all over the world were able have their questions and comments answered.

Talking with young people through Facebook was a great way to start the day which continued with a strategy lunch between the young leaders to make final preparations for the Side Event “Young people leading change: How the SDG targets to end the AIDS epidemic and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services will be met” organized by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Stop AIDS Now, GYCA, the LINKUP project, ACT!2015, The PACT, UNAIDS and the Have You Seen My Rights? Campaign.

I had the pleasure to be on the panel next to Mimi, Cedric Nininahazwe (from the Network of Young People Living with HIV in Burundi), Lotte Dijkstra (Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights from the Netherlands), and Beatrice Savadye (from Zimbabwe). The panel was attended by a mixed audience: young peer sexual educators, young leaders from different movements, healthcare professionals, and representatives from different governmental missions, and institutions like The Global Fund and The Office of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth. More on the side event can be found on Twitter with the hashtag #HYSMR and in this story featured by UNAIDS website. During the Side Event, Abhinav (from India) talked about the launch of the Toolkit for the Campaign and mentioned the #5pledges.

With just a few minutes to network and take pictures after the side event, our young leaders rushed to the UNAIDS New York Office to meet with Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS. This meeting, which was attended by other senior staff at UNAIDS, meant to:

  1. Show UNAIDS what The PACT and other young leaders are doing with the HYSMR Campaign #5pledges
  2. Strengthen the relationship between the youth movement and UNAIDS
  3. To voice young people’s requests to UNAIDS for a better and strengthened youth movement. The meeting ran smoothly and successfully. At the end, when we were taking pictures showing Luiz’s endorsement of our #5pledges, Michel Sibidé (Head of UNAIDS) came to photobomb us – if you don’t believe me, see the picture above!

Being almost 7pm and after spending the entire day in meetings, our young leaders continued to work over near Times Square, because we also need to enjoy a little bit of the Big Apple, right?