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Not just demanding but learning, via a new model, to create SRHR partnerships

As part of our series of deep dives into the International Conference on Family Planning, David focuses on how we can improve youth partnerships in SRHR

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Tags: ICFP, Meaningful and inclusive youth participation, YIELD, YIELD Hub

Youth want and have the right to decide what to do with their bodies and their lives. This means that they must be involved in all stages of decision-making for sexual and reproductive health interventions. In turn, this will ensure that young people are involved as partners and leaders, not just as beneficiaries.

The YIELD Hub, founded and launched in 2022, is an independent initiative hosted by Rutgers. The Hub, which employs a unique model, came out of the research and work of the YIELD Project, and the need to evolve meaningful youth engagement. It aims to improve youth partnerships within the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) by facilitating action learning processes and influencing change. At its helm is David Imbago-Jácome, an Ecuadorian doctor and SRHR advocate.

At the International Conference of Family Planning (ICFP) on November 15, David will be moderating a session titled “The Power of Partnership to Drive Equity in SRHR”. The panel will be co-led by Save the Children with presentations from the Family Health Division from Wajir County in Kenya, Syria Relief, Youth Advocacy on Rights and Opportunities (YARO), and Youth for Sustainable Development. This session will provide an opportunity to explore how power-shifting partnerships are improving the SRHR of people most impacted by discrimination and inequality. Further, the session will delve into the potential of cross-stakeholder collaboration to impact youth, nomadic groups, and people living in humanitarian crises.

I would like people to walk away from the conference committing to learn how to collectively improve youth partnership in the field
David Imbago-Jácome

“We often focus only on the problems, but now let’s focus on solutions,” said David, who is a board member and chair of the youth constituency of Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). He is also a member of the Lancet Commission on adolescent health and wellbeing.

During the session, David hopes to demonstrate how the Hub’s model works. It employs “cross-stakeholder action learning” to come up with new solutions to challenges and to develop ways for youth to become involved in SRHR. The Hub focuses on priorities defined by stakeholders centred on meaningful partnerships involving young people to facilitate learning among youth, researchers, and funders. “Our model is about learning and not just about advocacy and youth saying ‘we demand this’,” says David, “There are six phases in the learning process: observe, assess, design, implement, capture and repeat.”

The Hub began its inaugural action learning cycle earlier this year, bringing together a variety of people from grassroots youth-led and international NGOs, global networks and intermediary funders. The first topic that it addresses came out of Hub research on gender and inclusion which highlighted discrimination faced by young women and youth leaders. The cycle has institutional representation from Engender Health, the Athena Network, MenEngage Alliance, Y-Plus, Camy Fund, and Restless Development.

Since its inception, the Hub has begun to make significant progress towards amplifying youth partnerships in SRHR. Members also find the model quite revolutionary. Olaoluwa Abagun, the executive director of Athena Network, a top international networking, training and development group, notes, said that its approach was “quite different from the norm”. “In the current environment, there is always pressure to create projects and solutions with quick fixes,” she said. “However, I feel comfortable bringing up different perspectives on the same issues and building on ideas with other members over time.”

“Sharing a different model of doing things is important,” said David.

“Collaborations are needed to actually achieve solutions, not just products, and improve things for young people in SRHR.
David Imbago-Jácome
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