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Social movements

From Participation to advocacy and social movement The effects of youth reproductive health programs seem compromised because of the bias of adult influence and control in youth program planning and implementation. Until recently, youth involvement in youth specific programs has been limited to what has been termed “tokenism” where the youth are only involved as subjects for study or victims. Such authoritative program designs have failed to attract and retain the participation of the intended beneficiaries. Youth participation is central in programs especially those that are targeted at shaping new behavioural trends. Youth participation is an initiation to greater involvement that will then propel a feeling of ownership for such programs and a positive dedication. It is at this stage of greater involvement that the youths will then soul search to see the practical ways that they can adopt to address their reproductive health issues. With clear definition of what works for them the youths will become advocates and then through interactions they inspire each other and it is then that a full social movement mutates. The above is not just another theory; contemporary programs are adopting and promoting youth participation in youth specific programs. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through the National AIDS Council has since recruited youth interns to facilitate the coordination of the National young people’s Network on HIV and AIDS a network whose mandate is to provide quality and effective leadership for a comprehensive and coordinated multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS for young people in Zimbabwe. Same efforts towards creating an enabling environment for youths to fully participate and contribute should extend to tertiary institutions and “campus voices” should be made louder on these issues of life and death. The young adults in tertiary institutions should not only wait for a plain field to be created for them but realise that through organising themselves and lobbying their voices can influence the national programming of reproductive health issues. Organised responses by those affected will result in a complete social movement that will change the picture of reproductive health issues for today’s youth. Youths are a special group who are significantly influenced by the environments they belong. There can never be a generalised response that will cover all youths as such central planning becomes difficult, instead specifically targeted social movements will realize positive results and should be encouraged.



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