In  April, the HIV Young Leaders Fund (HYLF) sponsored an Advocacy Training for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia program grantees in Tbilisi, Georgia.Youth RISE and HYLF have been partners and working together since HYLF’s inception and for this reason, Youth RISE was invited to co-facilitate the training.  Our IWG Nicole Fereirra from Portugal on behalf of Youth RISE travelled to Georgia and co-facilitated training on Advocacy, Human Rights, Drug Policy, Youth Participation and Youth Friendly Harm Reduction Services, and promoted interactions between the grantees and other organisations, networks and stakeholders.

The main goal of this training was to promote new leadership in the EECA region especially among young women who use drugs and affected by HIV, by increasing their capacity to mobilize their communities to advocate for their needs. This is a group that faces particular issues when it comes to drug use and associated social and health problems, and this was confirmed by the experiences shared during the training. The reality that these young women face shows that they must be empowered with the tools to make sure that their needs are taken into account in programs and policies related to HIV and drug use.
The training itself was an amazing experience, not only because it addressed most of the specific issues and challenges felt by these women, but also because all the participants were highly motivated, strongly engaged in their tasks and we were able to witness positive effects by the end of the sessions. One of the expected outcomes was to create a regional campaign and an advocacy platform for young women in this region, and the first steps to accomplish this were taken. Also, we could feel that the training gave these women solid tools that they were inspired to start using in their daily work and future plans.
HYLF and Youth RISE will continue encouraging this group to develop the skills gained in the training and take solid steps towards creating campaigns, make an advocacy regional plan, strengthen networks and share experiences, in order to increase their visibility and participation.
Youth RISE will be following closely this group and assisting in the work developed. In addition to this work, following the release of our joint brief ‘Ain’t I a woman: Recognising and protecting the rights of young women affected by HIV and drug use‘  last year, we are currently developing case studies that highlights good practice for young women who use drugs in the EECA region.