Of being young and leading!

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This week has been exciting at YPLA, we have been planning something big (we’ll share the news soon!), and we had our alumni contribute towards the United Nations Youth Strategy by taking part in a survey to shape the future of the UN with regards to young people. This might seem small, but trust us, it isn’t. The UN has platforms which can be used for engagement with key stakeholders including governments and inter-governmental organisations, health personnel and researchers, and this means potential for global advocacy for young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). That is why it was critical for young people to take part in the survey, and highlight priority issues being faced by young people across the globe, continent as well as the southern African region. It is critical that young people are able to contribute to structures, declarations and developmental agendas at global, regional and national levels especially on something as fundamental as SRHR, which affects young people’s access to various life chances.

YPLA aims to create a cadre of responsible young leaders who are able to effectively advocate for young people’s SRHR, meaningfully participate on important platforms at various levels and strategically engage with key stakeholders. Additionally, YPLA alumni also create platforms for young people to realise positive SRHR outcomes and lead movements for SRHR and gender norms transformation contributing to the global development agenda in southern Africa.

Today we share Bianca Mulawisha’s thoughts and reflections on her leadership journey. Bianca is a YPLA graduate from Livingstone, Zambia. She reflects on one of the activities which she undertook during her leadership training.

Bianca Mulawisha- YPLA alumnus, Class of 2014

“Regardless of one’s background or status in life, there is something for everyone at YPLA. The leadership programme plays a vital role in young people’s lives. The activities are so varied that young people are able to express themselves freely, gain leadership experience and learn the most important aspects about sexual reproductive health and individual rights.

I recall attending the Inter-generational Dialogue of African Women in Zimbabwe organized by  SAfAIDS, where as young women we were asked to write letters addressed to our future selves. I doubted the whole exercise though it was a simple and creative way of setting goals. I thought to myself and asked myself, are these not just personal resolutions which we at times set before and after New Year’s Day?

I didn’t know what to write to my future self. I scribbled something on my paper and placed it in my diary, which in the process got misplaced.

It was in August 2013, at the Regional Advocacy and Leadership training held at YPLA in Zimbabwe where for the second time we were asked to write a letter to our future self.

I thought to myself  that letter again? I started asking myself, should I write and keep a copy for myself or should i write and give it for keeping till that proposed date of opening?

I sat to write my letter in the evening on the 22nd day of August, 2013 whilst attending the training. I wrote big versions of myself that i would want to be, what i would want to do and achieve within a certain period of time. As i wrote I envisioned my future self. I put hopes for my future self. I continued to write and put in expectations and goals being a goal setter.

I finished writing the letter, put it in an envelope, sealed and handed over for keeping.

Many  times I sit and think back on the letter addressed to my future self, trying to recall what i wrote. I question myself as to how I will react when I open that letter and meet my future self in that letter?

The whole exercise created a wider platform for one as an individual, as a young woman in Southern Africa to put into writing what I would want to see in my future self, it made me commit to change.

I look forward to opening that letter…”

Today as we sign off, we leave you with a few questions; what are you doing in your community as a young leader? What have you committed to? Will your future self be proud of you? What ACTion will you take today?

#ypla #youngpeopleleading #safaids

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