Thursday, 3 December, 2009

The South Asian Bands Festival 2009!

Amidst all the work happening for our fundraiser concert on December 10, 2009, we've just partnered with Seher, an Indian NGO that does some superbly interesting work with artists across South Asia, for The South Asian Bands Festival 2009 that's happening this December. The festival brings together some of the biggest names in music from across South Asia and is absolutely free. Here's three things you should know about it:
  • It's December 11,12,13 (yes, we actually planned our fundraiser such that it did not clash!), 6pm onwards.
  • Entry is absolutely free.
  • The venue is Dilli's Purana Qila. An apt piece of history to have music across South Asia unite and come together.
The YP Foundation is partnering with Seher to organize Artist Showcase Interactions, on each of the days, between the incredible group of artists playing as well as young aspiring artists we work with at The YP Foundation. If you are interested in registering for the interactions on any of the days, just email Ishita at

If you're a big group of people coming from somewhere in the NCR region or Gurgaon, and you need us to help you with buses, to go to and come - send us an email and we'll see what we can do for you! (Big Group Definition: More than 20 people!!! =) )

Definitely an event you're not going to want to miss!

Saturday, 28 November, 2009

In Loving Memory Of.

With the deepest of grief, we share with you the loss of someone who has brought immense life, joy and colour to our core at TYPF.

We lost Purple Malik today morning, after a brief and highly unexpected struggle with Blood Cancer two days ago. Purple came to us two years ago, as a young college student and journalist, and we have known her in multiple roles since, as a Friend, Graphic Designer, Events Curator, Staff Member, Colleague amongst many others.

We are at a loss at what to say, other than the fact that her voice and her art are still etched so clearly infront of us, when we look at the voice she gave our work through these past two years, in her digital story, her art work, 2 years worth of 4am online conversations on everything from poster designs to sound to our future dreams. She always took us to new heights, with her trademark intense hard work and easy going nature, becoming a part of each of us in different ways.

I last spoke with Purple a few days ago. She was taking some time off to heal and take care of herself, and mentioned to me that in these past few months that had been hard and challenging for her, coming to YP to all of you, kept her going and had helped her cope. 'It's been my happy space' are words that still resound in my mind. I feel somewhere, she would have wanted everyone at TYPF to know that.

We know and love Purple for her wild eccentricities, her brilliantly curious mind, her vision of the world, her sense of humour, her individualistic sense of dressing, the strikingly talented artist she is and her poetic heart. Some of my most life changing conversations and arguments, in art, on life have been with Purple, at early morning hours of working together, almost every second day for weeks on end in the last two years. She taught me how to see life a little differently, a second vision that we found in her art and in her hopes and dreams for what she wanted to do.

We cannot imagine not having her with us anymore. She is so many things for so many people, and this institution owes her so very much. We wish that she finds peace and knows how much she is loved, and how much we owe her, for how she brought us together and the laughter and light she brought to this organization.

We will keep you informed of when there is a prayer meeting held for her, TYPF is planning to hold a meeting at a time her family finds appropriate, where the organization can come together. We're also setting up a wall in office that's going to be hers, with messages for her, her art work, with the spirit that's just uniquely Purple, so do feel free to share any thoughts and messages you'd like to.

We also want to acknowledge Purple and highlight her video and art work at our upcoming concert in December, she was to have been the graphic artist who was going to design our first institutional brochure and it was a project that she and I had been working on for many weeks now, she was incredibly excited about it.

We celebrate and miss her, she will always be the most beautiful part of us.

- Ishita C.

Wednesday, 25 November, 2009

Raising Decibel Levels - Support Youth Led Action!

Raising volumes for youth led action in India.

The YP Foundation.
Raising Decibel Levels.

The YP Foundation in New Delhi has, for the last 7 years, supported 5,000 young people directly; setting up over 200 projects in India, reaching out to over 3,00,000 youth in Delhi and to numerous youth across the country. Pilot projects have run from Mumbai, Pune and Chhattisgarh and we partner with a number of youth led organizations in Asia and the Pacific, as well as Internationally.

Now, we need your support!

On December 10, 2009, at the Ashoka Hotel Amphitheatre, we are hosting our first ever fundraiser concert, featuring British Folk Sensations Laura Marling ( and Mumford and Sons (, with East India Company’s Papon Angaraag Mahanta (

Proceeds from the concert will support 6 of our programmes at The YP Foundation for 2010, where 1,000 young people will come together in New Delhi to conduct over 40 public programmes on understanding HIV/AIDS, Gender and Sexuality, Promoting Independent Music, Exploring Film, Life Skills and Mental Health and Education and Healthcare Initiatives for Street Children.

Date: 10th December, 2009

Time: 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Venue: Amphitheater, The Ashoka Hotel, B 50, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Tickets: Rs 200/-

First Come First Served!

Call us for details/block your passes now at +91 11 46792243/ 9811073010/ 9910337160


Sponsored By
Power Grid Corporation, Rosmerta Technologies Ltd., Sareen Estates Ltd., Videocon

Supported By
The British Council, Only Much Louder, The American Center, Spiral Seed, Media Offline, Music Basti, Students for the Promotion of International Law, Indian Youth Climate Network, Artistes Unlimited

Online Partner

Venue Partner
The Ashok Hotel

Media Partners
Hit 95 FM, Rolling Stone

About the Artists

Laura Marling is a folk singer-songwriter from Hampshire, England. Marling has toured with a number of well-known indie artists in the UK and beyond including Adam Green and Jamie T, whoinvited her on tour with him in 2006 after he attended her second-ever gig. She performed at the 2007 O2 Wireless Festival and also performed at the first Underage Festival in August 2007 at VictoriaPark, East London. Her television appearances include The Late Show with Craig Ferguson in the US, and 'Later With Jools' in the UK. Her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim was released on 4 February 2008 and was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize.

Mumford & Sons are a folk n roll band from London. The band is made up of Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, organ), Ted Dwane (vocals, double bass). They formed in late 2007, rising out of London's folk scene with other artists such as Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Jay Jay Pistolet and Noah and the Whale. In February 2008, the band completed an extensive UK tour with support from Alessi's Ark, Sons of Noel and Adrian, Peggy Sue, Pete Roe, The Cutaway and more. They have been long listed for the BBC's Sound of 2009. BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe made "Little Lion Man" his "Reaction Record" on 27 July 2009, before naming it the "Hottest Record in the World" the following evening. Mumford & Sons won Best Band at the 3rd Annual Balcony TV Music Video Awards in Dublin on 3 July 2009.

Papon (Angaraag Mahanta), East India Company - As a talented offspring of illustrious parents in the arena of Assamese music, he is not the only one. Yet, Angaraag Mahanta, son of singers Khagen Mahanta and Archana Mahanta, has managed to create a separate identity with his debut album Jonaki Raati, which recently hit the stalls in Assam. Inspired by the wide array of sound that he has been exposed to from the traditional Vaishnavite devotional songs of Assam to new-age electronica, Papon's music is new and free. Free to be confined by any genre, new to be identified with anything that already exists.

Save The Date - Spread The Word - Support Our Work

Saturday, 7 November, 2009

Vikalp – Searching for Alternatives: A Youth Festival for Social Change!

Venue Partners: The American Center, India Habitat Centre and Management Development Institute

Media Partners: HIT 95 FM, DelhiEvents.Com and Tehelka Magazine

200 young people. 20 organizations. 1 Day.

Challenging. Understanding. Connecting. Inspiring!

‘Vikalp – Searching for Alternatives’ is a youth forum for social change for you to promote youth led dialogue and action in India.

The forum on November 14, 2009 will bring together young change makers to share best practices and examine strategies on how young people can build youth action in an inclusive and cohesive manner. Vikalp will focus on the four specific issues of gender and sexuality, education, disability and HIV/AIDS.

Vikalp is conceptualized by UNESCO, The YP Foundation and UNFPA, and will run from 10am to 10.00pm on the 14th of 2009 at The American Center and India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

The festival will feature capacity building sessions, round table consultations, film, art, photography and music as well as You Speak: An Art Exhibition and Vikalp: A National Film Festival and Concert, featuring The Raghu Dixit Project LIVE! At the Amphitheatre, India Habitat Centre.

Children’s Day is a significant day for the city to come together to support positive dialogue on inspiring and building young people’s skills.

Save the date & Spread the word!

Festival Schedule

Part 1 - Time: 10am-6pm

Venue: The American Centre

Registration & Opening: 10.00 am

Young People and Gender in HIV & AIDS Responses

Time: 10.30 am-11.30 am

Share models of how you intersectionalities between HIV & AIDS and Gender in youth led or youth focused peer education work. The session aims at highlighting key challenges, best practices as well as provoke thought on how work with young people on HIV & AIDS and Gender and be more inclusive as well as effective.

The Road Less Taken - Urban and Rural Youth Routes for Change

Time: 12.00noon-1.00 pm

Creating interactions between diverse youth groups from both rural and urban backgrounds to share the strategy, challenges and relevance of their work. The session aims at highlighting multiple models employed, lessons learnt as well as potential collaborations and partnerships that are needed, to create sustainable youth networks.

Break for Lunch: 1.00pm-2.00pm (We apologize, lunch cannot be provided as part of the forum!)

Teach Whom? Innovative Strategies for Working with Young People

Time: 2.15 pm-3.15 pm

Individuals and institutions that work with education challenge what it means to different groups of young people. Examining multiple strategies used in formal as well as non formal spaces, the aim of the session is to share existing strategies; examining successes and failures, to understand the possibilities of where mainstream and non formal education can intersect. We hope to challenge and refresh, methodologies for teaching as well as the contexts in which young people work.

The ‘Beauty’ of Perception – Sexuality, Disability and Young People

Time: 3.30pm- 4.30pm

How do we see Sexuality and Disability? How does youth led work understand or include the intersectionalities between both in the work that they do? Sharing different models of work being done by diverse activists, researchers and organisations. It also attempts to understand the challenges of accessing sexuality education and training for disabled people, in an attempt to highlight the way forward in maintstreaming the sexual and reproductive rights of disabled youth in India’s programmes and policies.

Special Session: The Elephant In the Room: Finding Youth Friendly Funding

Time: 5pm - 6pm

This is a pre registered session for interested youth led organisations, bringing together donor and funders for an honest and open conversation on the how, where, when, what and why of funding decisions for youth led work in India. We hope to highlight key strategies and pointers for accessing institutional and corporate funding and create a open and interactive exchange of thought, opinions and strategies for supporting youth work in the country. To register, email us at

Capacity Building Sessions (these sessions will run parallel to the 4 roundtable sessions)

Think Out of That BoxDesigning and Managing Youth Led Projects

(Facilitator: Akshay Sharma, The YP Foundation) Time: 11.30am - 12.30 pm

The Tao of Scale - Scaling Youth Led Work in India

(Facilitated by Surya Prakash Loonker, Catalyst) Time: 2.00 pm-3.00 pm

Taking IT Online - Online strategies for youth work

(Facilitated by Surenderan, India Youth Climate Network) Time: 3.15pm - 4.15 pm

Part 2: Vikalp – The Film Festival & Concert

Venue: The India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road

Time: 7.00 pm- 10.30 pm

A National Film Festival and Music Concert that highlights, challenges and ponders on our understanding of disability, education, sexuality, gender, rights and HIV & AIDS, featuring The Raghu Dixit Project LIVE!

You Speak: Art & Photography Exhibition / 7.00pm

Vikalp – Film Screenings /


Koshish - Dir. Mohit Gupta / 02:21 mins
Story about Koshish, an NGO working in Delhi with urban street and slum children.

Felicia - Dir: Surya Balakrishnan /13:12 mins
The film narrates the true story of Felicia, a 9-year-old girl, sold by her father into prostitution. Rescued by a police officer, the film is a recollection of Felicia's memories.

Flying Inside My Body - Dir: Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas, Sumit Sharma, Ajeeta Chowhan/ 35:34 mins
Flying Inside My Body explores how the form of the body can become a powerful physical language to express dissent over societal norms and conventions.

Being Male, Being KotiDir: Mahuya Banduopadhyay / PSBT/ 30 mins
Shot in Kolkata, the film explores the experience of growing up gender variant and not being able to understand, let alone explain the difference. The experience of a world where there is 'no one quite like me' is an intensely lonely, fractured and troubled one.

Children of the Same God Dir: Nupur Bansal /03:14 mins
A young girl’s moment of inspiration whilst volunteering at a hostel for orphaned boys.

Vikalp – The Concert/ Featuring The Raghu Dixit Project LIVE! / 9.00pm

Entry to both venues is free. Please carry a valid photo ID to enter the American Center.

Queries/Roses/Brickbats: or +91 11 46792243/44

Vikalp – Searching for Alternatives.

Spread The Word.

Thursday, 5 November, 2009

Save The Date - Young People Unite on November 14, 2009!

Vikalp – Searching for Alternatives is A Youth Forum for Social Change that brings together young change makers from across India.

Vikalp promotes youth led dialogue and action in India by sharing best practices and examining strategies on how young people can build youth action in an inclusive and cohesive manner. The forum will focus on the four specific issues of gender and sexuality, education, disability and HIV/AIDS.

The forum will host a public National Youth Festival on November 14, 2009 that brings together youth led and youth focused organizations. The festival will feature capacity building sessions, round table consultations, film, art, photography and music.

Vikalp is conceptualized by UNESCO, The YP Foundation and UNFPA and will run from the 13 to 16 November 2009 at The American Centre and India Habitat Centre, New Delhi and Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.

Save The Date - Ask Us for Details!


Friday, 9 October, 2009

Speak Up for Young People!

We're asking for YOUR help, around 3 minutes of your time ☺

TYPF is trying to raise funds as well as raise the profile of the work that we do – and we’re in a competition where we need people to account for what we do – and why it’s important plus your experiences with us. Your feedback will also help us improve our work!

It doesn’t take long at all – if you have got a minute – could you go to and write something for us?

GreatNonprofits, Little India, and GuideStar have teamed up to launch the 2009 InDiya Shine Awards to recognize the top-rated nonprofits that are making a difference in India or within the Indian community abroad.

During this festival period, organizations with the most positive reviews will be announced winners. There will be 3 winners in each of 3 budget categories (Small, Medium, Large).

What do winners get? Winners will be featured on and, the premier site for philanthropic research on the Web. There will also be a special feature on the contest and the winners in Little India – the largest overseas Indian publication in the U.S., including special editorial content.

Just select in the form when asked that we are looking for the inDiya awards icon.

You can read our profile at

We really appreciate this – thank you!

PLEASE help us spread word!

Friday, 25 September, 2009





Noun: Overzealous censorship of material considered obscene.

Differing meanings of sexuality permeate our vocabulary, our expressions, our words, but really? What does it take to define sexuality? Seeing myself, as consciously possible to be someone defined within the ‘youngperson’ category, what does it take to illustrate sexuality?

Why is it that sexuality as regarding young people becomes even more contentious and forbidden? The ideals of an innocence which we as adults look back to, with fondness and longing sometimes seems to be a web we have created, an excuse to believe that not everything is gray. The dictionary defines childhood as the state or period of being a child, where a child is seen as a person between birth and full growth or any person or thing regarded as the product or result of particular agencies, influences, etc. While the first definition is most definitely the one we are looking for, let us for variety’s sake consider the 2nd.

‘any person or thing regarded as the product or result of particular agencies, influences, etc’

The concept of Choice comes up often in debates around matters of rights. But of course we all understand that choice also exists within restraint. That very restraint which defines a child; our choices are in itself a product or result of certain agencies, influences etc. So what is it about choosing to be sexual that scares us so much?

A couple of observations will follow. And these are only mine. No references, no footnotes, no sources. Apologise to all those who believe that real writing has to be sourced.

In the end most of it seems to centre around 2 factors, one internal and the other external. Firstly, how sacred we consider the body to be. By sacred I don’t mean only holy or pure, but rather more, untouchable. Meant to be seen as an object of beauty, to be leched at, but from a distance, to be touched but only by strangers.

What I mean is this; when it comes to the bodies of women close to you, its sacredness and virtue is undeniable, the second the body in consideration is that of an unknown woman it becomes property, to be felt, seen, measured and enjoyed. Sacred also in the sense that the body which is more ‘used’ is unclean, not to be respected. But who measures what is sacred and what is not? What is used what is not? And when did use become an anathema? However much we might reiterate that sexuality is not just about sex, it does sometimes come down to that. Sex; the act, as well as Sex; the biology.

While discussing what sexuality means in training session last week, one of the participants very pertinently asked what the difference between sexuality and personality was. If sexuality encompasses everything, is influenced by everything and in turn influences all. How does it differ from how we describe ourselves as people? The answer given to that was; that sexuality specifically has to do with who we are as sexual beings. But the answer and question in itself now seem fundamentally flawed.

The question is not how sexuality is different but rather why we try to see and define the same as different from all other processes of living and growth. And that’s where questions of sacredness come in. The debates are numerous and the questions more so.

If we consider young people (seeing it from a solely age point of view), and the idea of sacred, the untouchability of the body comes into stark relief. My body is a temple, and even I’m not allowed to touch it so. I’ve taken part in a not too large, but decent number of workshops with the supposed ‘urban educated’ of Delhi on issues of sexuality. In most cases, sexuality or the expression of the same is still measured by the number of people we sleep with, how long we have been Confused and what all we question as ‘normal’.

Most don’t know where their vagina is located and admit that while it is okay for women to masturbate they themselves don’t do so. The Hypothetical, Abstract women masturbate. With men the picture is different, of course they’ve had wet dreams and of course they pleasure themselves, its natural, What becomes ironic is not just that women don’t talk freely about such issues but rather that they truly never thought that they to have a right to pleasure,( or correct anatomical knowledge to do so). It might sound silly and stupid but do we not know that women too can pleasure themselves.

Such incidences are symptomatic of many larger issues, gender issue remain at the bottom of understanding of sexuality and identity, but even identification of the same takes time.

Sexuality and health awareness is coated in the language of rights. Of affirmativeness, of positivity. But the question remains of what is culturally suitable? Queries surrounding sexuality and culture form a beautifully blurred image in my mind. Is the language of rights too universal?

Sexuality education and the coming of HIV has made private habits of people a matter of public debate, the oft talked of distinction between public and private spheres once again holds us enthralled. Heated passions and questions of morality are thrown about, but once again, can the state tell us what we can or cannot do in our homes? Why is it that when it comes to young people, the debate changes course, it’s no longer a question of confidentiality and privacy, but rather of morality and culture? If women are considered the symbols of Mother Nature and the Motherland, the ‘young people’ occupy a similar culturally sacred space in our collective consciousness. Young people are the ‘future’, the inheritors of culture, ethnicity and national pride. We are the ‘leaders of tomorrow’.

And what do we do with everything that is considered sacred and essential for survival? We preserve it, protect it, and hide it from harm. But the problem here is that we, as people, have this tendency to not listen, to at some level rebel. I don’t mean a great consensual declaration of rebellion, but rather little acts of thinking which make us want to do things our own way. Not always right, not always wrong. A book on participatory processes I was reading, said something which stayed with me. Participation is not a onetime process. You can’t expect people to turn 18 and suddenly become responsible citizens. Participation is about ownership and ownership grows, with responsibility and realisation of its importance. I believe that it’s the same with issues of sexuality and what young people should know. ‘Responsible behaviour’ (whatever that might be), doesn’t come from not knowing or ignorance and nor does it come with censored knowledge, but rather with ownership and understanding of our bodies, gender and all things sexual.

Going on to the external factor, marriage it seems is seen as the root cause of stability in society, the essential unit in political, sociological and all other such processes. Sexuality in all its glory is seen to threaten this stability, hence destroying the ‘moral’ fabric of society. Again many strands are present in this thinking, for example:

Sexuality= promiscuousity= unfaithfulness and divorce.

Heterosexual marriages= procreation= right marriage.

Understanding of gender issues= women negating traditional roles= instability in married life.

There are many, many more such connections, but we shall leave it at that. In essence, when sexuality issues come to the fore, traditional understandings of nature and societal processes are shaken, and in the end it is stability of society and ‘human kind’ which is valued more than dignity and rights of an individual.

In essence, the paradox/ absurdity/conundrum remain. Sexuality is intrinsic, powerful, deeply personal and individual. Its repercussions and expressions are the very foundations upon which our societal systems are based.

Yes, things are changing, ‘times’ are more liberal and free, But what does it really mean in today’s world to be liberal, not only in politics, but in thought and action?

Ishita Sharma

Monday, 21 September, 2009

What Does Your Vote Want? Help Us Know!

The Right to Information Branch is a division of the The YP Foundation that develops young people’s engagement with legislative process and increases their awareness of laws and policies in India. We help young people apply the law more effectively to their daily lives.

Our current project is called ‘What Does Your Vote Want? - Exploring the RTI Act’. We aim to generate awareness on how young people can utilize the act, as well as how it can be made more accessible to young people. By incorporating the inputs of key stakeholders, experts, and the youth, The YP Foundation will help young people in Delhi file RTI Applications and create a more regular dialogue with the government, promoting the concept of active citizenship and accountability amongst young people and the government.

The following link is to a survey where we are trying to learn more about what kind of accountability young people are looking for post elections, from the 2009 Government at national and local levels, as well as what they do and don’t understand about the system of voting.


The document is a word document and once filled, can be emailed back to We appreciate your taking the time out to do this! (Should you do it ☺ )

Your responses will be used to design our Right to Information programme for young people (16 - 25 years) this year, so by participating you will effectively ensure we are designing an effective response, based on young people's needs.

Please help us spread word!


“My Eid is Peace. Wherever there is peace, there is Eid for me. In Arabic, Eid means happiness that comes again and again. What gives us greater happiness than peace for humanity, that is irrespective of the religion you identify with? Peace that celebrates diversity, that is my Eid.”

- Asghar Ali Engineer, South Asian Youth Peace Meet 2009

Monday, 31 August, 2009

Call for Applications: VIKALP: Searching for Alternatives

Call for Applications

UNESCO and The YP Foundation
VIKALP: Searching for Alternatives
A Youth Forum for Social Change

13th-16th November 2009, New Delhi

The Youth Forum on Social Change, to be held in New Delhi from the 13th to 16th of November 2009, is aimed at promoting youth led dialogue and action in India, by bringing together young people from across the country to share best practices and examine strategies on how they can build youth action in an inclusive and cohesive manner.

The Youth Forum aims to facilitate the active engagement of young people, by focusing on youth led community work in four specific issues of gender and sexuality, education, disability and HIV/AIDS.

The four-day forum will bring together 32 young people who are implementing existing youth led community work in these four cross cutting areas. All expenses relating to travel, accommodation and food will be covered for outstation participants only.

For projects/initiatives that are developed as an outcome of the 4-day forum, UNESCO and TYPF will make available small grants to support collective youth leadership and shall also provide mentoring and support in the development, implementation and assessment of these initiatives. Participants who are selected for the forum must be willing to conceptualize and design initiatives that incorporate the outcome of the learning’s of the forum.

For more details, please email The deadline for submitting applications is September 18, 2009. Email to get a copy of the application.

Please do help us spread word!

Thursday, 20 August, 2009

Youth Statement to Governments at ICAAP

In the last two days, over 150 young people ranged from 17 to 35 years, representing over 20 countries, came together in solidarity. The youth group at the second largest AIDS forum in the world, the 9th ICAAP, drafted a collective commitment to increase young people’s stake in programmes and policy processes that impact their lives and their rights.

As youth from Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Japan, China, Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Samoa, Lao, Papua New Guinea and South Korea, this commitment we make, is deeply personal. It is to achieve meaningful youth participation by developing strong adult peer partnerships, increase funding and capacity building for youth led and youth serving initiatives, mainstream human rights in the HIV and AIDS response for all young people, recognize and affirm young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights and eliminate stigma and discrimination amongst young people.

And one wonders, what exactly does that mean? As a 24 year old who has been part of this incredibly diverse forum, there is a question that repeatedly comes up in all of our communities. Young people ask about it, in confusion. Parents ask about it, worried. Teachers and Schools wonder what to do with it, communities discuss it, in secret and our governments are still grappling with developing a comprehensive framework to implement it.

Why is sexuality so problematic?

Why as society, are we so scared to address any kind of sexuality education or rights cohesively? What stops us from giving young people complete rather than half baked information that is critical and life saving and that can protect them from disease, empowers them to be informed individuals and that teach them to be respectful to their own needs and desires and to be respectful towards the rights of others as well?

Why is there in all of our countries, this huge gap between what’s happening in our lives and how empowered young people are, to be able to address these issues within their own societies?

Sexuality Education is about young people’s right to know. The arguments based on cohesive Sexuality Education being against our cultural and moral values are invalid and do not justify denying young people the information and skills they need and are entitled to. Exhaustive research studies show that implementing comprehensive sexuality education does not lead to an increase in early sexual activity.

Majority of the awareness work we do around the prevention of HIV/AIDS isn’t nearly half as effective as it should have been, because there is this underlying silence that no one will address. And as governments, as leaders, you cannot look away from the fact that young people are contracting HIV every day because they do not have the knowledge and tools to protect themselves. When you take the so called ‘safer route’ and substitute conversations about recognizing multiple sexuality and gender identities, staying healthy and protecting oneself from STI’s and feeling comfortable with one’s own body with conversations instead, about promoting self control and abstinence, you destroy any open space or possibility for conversation between young people and their families and communities.

No religion or society in the world, wants its young people to contract STDs, wants its young women to die in early childbirth or see violating inequalities between men and women. Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a framework that addresses each of these issues. It is not just about how to have sex, but rather about good quality school based sexuality, relationship and HIV education that increases the age of sexual debut and has positive effects on the risk of STIs and unintended pregnancies and attitudes towards people living with HIV.

It is also not automatically covered under the ambit of Reproductive Heath. When we replace curriculums on sexuality education and call them population control, family and life planning, health education, we need to ensure that we are still addressing sexuality as a basic component of human nature, that needs to be integrated in a larger framework of human rights.

Young people from Asia and the Pacific commonly identified various gaps and highlighted best practices present in how comprehensive sexuality education was being addressed in their country, some of which I’m sharing with you today:

· Many young people at this forum have highlighted the problems faced with having decentralized governments. There needs to be a standardized approach taken to implement comprehensive sexuality education. Central governments need to be able to dialogue clearer with state governments or provinces, to lobby for a standardized, comprehensive approach that is made accessible not just in government schools, but to out of school youth and those in private and faith based institutions as well.

· We believe that the approaches the ministry of education and ministry of health in each country implement could be aligned to ensure a more effective outcome, making schools a safe space for such conversation.

· We also believe that UN organizations in each country can play a key role in ensuring that this happens, because they have access to spaces of influence with governments that as young people, we do not.

· The importance and need of explaining to young people, condom use as well as negotiating the same was flagged as critical. Young people from Malaysia and India specifically felt that this was lacking in the approach that their governments implemented.

· Youth from Pakistan, Malaysia, Papua New Gunea, Indonesia, Burma, Bangladesh and India felt strongly that comprehensive sexuality education is only effective if the form by which it is taught is without shame or embarassment and that currently in their countries, a larger focus needs to be made on implementing peer education services, as this makes the information contextualization easier and more age appropriate.

· They also felt strongly that teachers implementing curriculums need to be trained. The Brazilian Government partnership with civil society organizations who have the capacity and infrastructure to be able to do this was a best practise highlighted. We believe that civil society organizations and peer education has greater potential to be able to correctly implement community specific comprehensive sexuality education and partnerships should be encouraged by governments in asia and the pacific. Young people from China and Japan endorsed the need for this strongly.

· Young People from Pakistan feel that the lack of a specific curriculum in sexuality education in Pakistan has led to limited information being made accessible in certain provinces of the country. A study by a recent NGO in the country revealed that sex education being conducted was not age appropriate, it was only in class 12 that many male students are taught anatomy and that often, frogs reproductive systems are used to explain human biology and sexuality.

· A greater effort needs to be made to dialogue with the positive power of faith and religion, as most young people pointed out that religious texts such as the Holy Quran have clear passages that advocate for recognizing women’s rights as well as reproductive health. However, it is often in the interpretation of these texts and a lack of community understanding on interpreting religious beliefs that biases step in. In Bangladesh, Imams are trained and in Brunei, christian priests have now been trained to address the HIV reponse.

· Many young people feel that counseling and testing services are not comprehensive in their countries, services are not affordable and healthcare professionals are judgemental and stigmatize often the services they are offering. In Papa New Guniea, youth pointed out that there is an understanding of the approach that needs to be taken, but simply a lack in implementing youth friendly services and an educational curriculum.

· Youth from Indonesia pointed out that comprehensive sexuality education is seen as an extra curricular activity and is not compulsory learning. We strongly feel that comprehensive sexuality education should be made age appropriate and mandatory for all young people.

· Moreover we are absolutely sure, that a pure abstinence based approach does not work, as it discourages, embarasses and stimgatizes young people from asking honest, open and relevant questions. A sex positive approach that mainstreams sexuality as part of human rights to HIV is needed. The recent move by US President Obama to advocate for age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and replace abstinence only education is testament to this. Youth from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malayasia, Singapore, Brunei, Pakistan, Samoa and South Kora felt that this was a critical factor and were unable to communicate the same to their governments effectively.

· Youth from India highlighted the need to involve young people in reviewing and developing effective models to implement comprehensive sexuality education curriculai. We also feel that young people are aware of the cultural sensitivities in their countries and are at times, better placed to develop approaches that are comprehensive yet practical and senstitive to the needs of the community that they will be used in.

It was clear that all 150 young people feel that in each of their countries, there needs to be a significant increase in recgonizing diverse gender and sexual identities and addressing gender equity, both in their respective country’s legal and societal frameworks. We believe that you can pretend that an issue doesn’t exist in society and refuse to address it, but if you overlook entire communities of people and their fundamental right to express their own identity, you will only fuel anger. Governments weaken themselves when they do this and they are less respected by their own citizens. As youth, we need to see an increase of positive role models in governments.

Sexuality Education is guided by the principle, that by empowering young people and giving them a safe space in society where they can ask questions, you are investing in develop a very critical human resource that builds the future and promise of any country. And to our minds, that’s exactly why we are we need to support implementing CSE. We believe these issues are key to empowering young people to protect themselves and that if you give young people their right to information, skills and services and that if you trust rather than judge who you think they are, young people can negotiate high-risk situations more effectively and reduce their vulnerability to a range of issues, specifically, violence, HIV and substance abuse.

We have been working for the past 5 months, through E consultations, skill building sessions, advocacy training to now at ICAAP, developing a special youth corner that hosts an adult and young people commitment desk. This commitment desk is testament to the fact that as young people, we will hold you, leaders, decision makers and governments, accountable to working with us. We hope you will raise the bar by making a commitment that highlights how our governments and ministries believe in investing in young people’s future and their rights and showcase best practices in how we can work together.

A comprehensive sexuality education framework has many benefits. It improves maternal health, integrating HIV and STI prevention, reducing unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, encourages democracy through building critical thinking skills and promotes gender equality by empowering young people and involving young men and boys. Our call to you is to redefine the possibility and potential of how we see and work with young people in our societies.

A participative, affordable, youth friendly, well-implemented comprehensive sexuality education framework is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. In this century, with poverty, HIV, climate change and global recession becoming a deadly reality, you cannot walk away. It is unforgivable, inexcusable and inhumane. As decision makers and political leaders, we need you to choose people over politics and development over silence.

As the youth forum from ICAAP, we believe in the positive power of what young people and decision makers can do, if they work together. We hope we can count on you, in the most meaningful way possible, to lead the change we need to see.

Ishita Chaudhry

On behalf of the Youth Forum, Bali Youth Force at the 9th ICAAP