By Esther Eshiet, Member of the External Working Group
A few weeks ago, CrowdOutAIDS offline forums were held around the world. From Alexandria, Egypt, to Calabar, Nigeria, and other regions of the world! Youth activists organized different events, engaging young people to contribute to the UNAIDS New Generation Leadership Strategy.
It is usually argued that policy is an intellectual task to engage in, but over the years we have witnessed the overwhelming impact of youth participation in policy and programming when young people are rightfully and genuinely engaged in the policy processes.
This commitment was displayed by the UNAIDs in giving young people the platform to draft their own Strategy to guide the work of the UNAIDs on HIV/AIDs programming for young people through the CrowdOutAIDS project.
Besides the online forums, the CrowdOutAIDS Offline forums afforded young activists the opportunity to create change at the grassroots mobilizing young people with limited or no access to Internet services in the process.
Nigeria contributed immensely to the process and 5 offline forums were conducted across all the different geo-political zones of the country by Leke Obadimu in Abeoukuta’ Gabriel Adeyemo and Kikelemo Taiwo in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city; Grace Ihejiamaizu in Calabar and Olalekan Paul in Lagos with CrowdOutAIDs External Working Group members Jennifer Ehidiamen (Online Curator) and Esther Eshiet (Member of the External Working Group) playing supporting roles.
Based on this, they offered 10 tips on how to organize CrowdOutAIDs offline forums or other advocacy forums at the grassroots!
- Draw up a Community Map- Are you at the national, state or local government level?
- Know your constituency/target audience- Who do you want to speak to? Bearing in mind that young people are a heterogeneous group
- 3. Identify community resources- halls, refreshments,-always endeavour to get in kind donations
- Select convenient date and time-shouldn’t be farming periods, nor community ceremonial days
- 5. Send out invitations- Word of mouth, radio, facebook,twitter and text messages
- Prepare/employ a simplified factsheet on HIV/AIDs data for your country, state and province
- Have a facilitator to lead discussions and a rapporteur to document all that is being said
- Take pictures, short videos, capture statements that will serve as powerful quotes for your reports
- Go over deliberations, ensure to get consensus on final recommendations made
- Type out your reports, accompanying pictures and HIT THE SEND BUTTON to NGL@unaids.org (or the organization)!
“CrowdoutAIDS brought youth participation to policy making processes near to young people, who wouldn’t have been had the opportunity contribute; this stirred up a sense of responsibility in me,” says Kikelomo Taiwo , Abuja