On December 3, 2013, our Young Advocates Network got a behind-the-scenes look at our Advocacy in Practice trainings, where we empower young people from around the world to lobby at the UN and in government negotiations.
Advocacy in Practice (AiP) is an intensive multiday workshop that gives participants the tools they need to effectively advocate for sexual and reproductive rights and health. Each AiP coincides with an important regional conference or UN negotiation, and allows participants to put their new skills into immediate action. Since 2006, we have trained more than 150 young advocates from 54 countries.
Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau is co-founder and Executive Director of Education as a Vaccine, a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and quality of life of adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
As part of the Advocacy and Policy Program, Sarah provides strategic support for IWHC’s international policy work. She collaborates closely with women's rights groups and youth coalitions during UN negotiations.
Fifteen young activists joined IWHC staff and our guest speaker, Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau, the leader of one of IWHC’s partner organizations in Nigeria, for this event. Akinfaderin-Agarau and IWHC’s Sarah Gold introduced the guests to the AiPs by presenting photos and highlights from recent workshops in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and described how these workshops prepare young people to meet with government representatives.
Akinfaderin-Agarau and Gold then gave the guests a crash course in AiP trainings. The group was split into smaller teams to create their own advocacy strategy to persuade governments to support comprehensive sexuality education. The teams honed their messages using a message box, a communications tool that helps advocates tailor messages for specific audiences. Two teams were selected for a role-playing exercise: one team aimed to persuade the Minister of Education of Nigeria—played by Akinfaderin-Agarau—to integrate comprehensive sexuality education into schools. The other team was tasked with persuading Finland’s ambassador to the UN—played by Gold— to support sexual and reproductive health and rights issues in the Post-2015 development agenda.
Drawing upon their own experiences with government negotiations, Akinfaderin-Agarau and Gold asked the activists tough questions and lobbed rebuttals to their talking points. The role-playing exercise demonstrated the challenges advocates face every day in their work lobbying government officials both in-country and at international negotiations. The participants left the event feeling energized about global advocacy, and many discussed ideas for what they can do to support advocates in other countries and at the UN.
The Young Advocates Network is a group people ages 18-35 who come together to network, share ideas, access experts in the field, and take action to ensure a just and healthy life for women and girls. Learn more and sign up for the Young Advocates Network.