TYPF’s focus has been both qualitative and quantitative, in as much as investing in a young person’s capacities and abilities to impact social change and understand social justice and resource equity in their communities in a positive and constructive manner. When we began working, we were primarily challenging the stigma associated with urban youth and social change outcomes, understood in the bracketing of young people as two separate homogeneous groups, i.e., urban and rural, with the assumption that those young people who have access to an education are motivated, empowered and informed and that those working in rural, community based, out of school contexts are disenfranchised and disconnected.
The primary strategy to challenge these assumptions is to encourage young people to internalize the values of a rights based approach and apply the same to a community context they can relate to. Our current strategy moving forward is to work on consolidating common networks and increasing our quantitative and qualitative engagement across the following five areas mentioned below. We work to ensure a significant level of change in the information levels of young people, as well as an enabling environment where it is possible for young people and women to access sexual reproductive health and rights services, and for young people to contribute to policies that impact their health and rights.
In the last 8 years, we have trained over 5,000 young people to implement over 200 projects across India, reaching out to 300,000 youth. Through the practical applications of providing services, building strategic support and capacity building, they challenge their own assumptions and ‘unpack the concept and practice of social power’. Since many young people do not have physical mobility and it is hard for them to access spaces where they can participate in TYPF’s work, a major part of our strategy has been to target young people online and be able to work with them. We are a community of over 1,00,000 young people online, across different social media including e-lists, social forums including Facebook, twitter, Orkut and others.
What is most significant is the intense growth and development of young people’s skills and leadership and team building abilities, as well as their understanding of human rights. This in turn, provides the self-confidence necessary to implement programmes and influence policies across the following areas:
Establishing inter-generational communication and linkages between young people and the women’s, HIV and feminist movements. Learn more
Strengthening technical and knowledge capacity building, including organizational development for youth led organizations and youth focused institutions and networks at local, regional and international levels. Learn more
Establishing policy dialogue and forums for collective youth advocacy to lobby effectively for their sexual reproductive health and rights at local, national forums that work with climate change, HIV prevention and mainstream public health movements. Learn more
Training young people as peer educators to inform and educate peers in their own communities on taking informed decisions based on accessing unbiased, evidence based information and youth friendly services. Learn more
Advocating with India, donor government and aid agencies on the importance of funding youth led work and the agency of young people, towards reaching the 2015 MDG targets. Learn more
The impact through our Alumni is seen best in the progress that our 5,000 odd alumni have made after leaving the organization, in terms of the issues they are professionally addressing. Learn more
- In 2010, we worked with UNAIDS in Geneva to co draft the founding and structure of their first Global ‘Youth Leadership and Mentorship Hub’ that will encourage inter generational mentoring for upcoming young leaders to include young people’s leadership within the HIV prevention revolution, with a particular focus on encouraging leadership and grassroots participation from young people in communities in the Global South.
- Representing The YP Foundation, our CEO is the Founder Member of RESURJ. RESURJ is an international alliance of feminist activists seeking full implementation of international commitments to secure all women’s and young people’s sexual and reproductive rights and health by 2015. “RESURJ by 2015″ is a 10-point action agenda that places women’s and young people’s human rights, particularly sexual and reproductive rights, participation in decision-making and accountability at the center of health programs and development efforts. RESURJ was founded in 2010 and was launched at the 44th Commission on Population and Development (CPD) at the UNHQ in April 20111.
- Strengthening local dialogue between young people and the women’s and RTI movement is an important and regular local programmatic strategy at TYPF. We have developed strong partnerships with collectives; organizations and feminist activists who mentor, input and dialogue with the young people we work with. This engagement happens through our strategic planning process, capacity building and peer education programmes with Accountability Initiative, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, CREA, TARSHI, Saheli, Nigah Media Collective, NCPRI, Lawyers Collective, The NAZ Foundation, activists Pramada Menon, Ponni Arasu, Arvind Kejriwal and Shekhar Singh amongst others.
- In 2010, TYPF hosted two bi lingual inter-generational RTI Forums with 150 young people in the NCR, grassroots organizations and civil society organizations, in collaboration with UNDP, SPIL, CHRI and Governance Now titled- ‘From Exploring the RTI Act to Building a Movement- Do Young People Matter?’. The forums were the culmination of two years worth of community training with young people across the NCR on how to use the RTI Act and featured NCPRI, Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner and Minister Salman Khurshid. In one of the forums, a participant had shared reports of harassment and threats from the MCD, in response to filing an RTI Application concerning illegal construction work. Through the forum, he was able to communicate his concern for personal safety with the CIC who after the forum, followed through with an enquiry, subsequently resulting in the arrest of two engineers from the MCD for threatening an RTI Applicant2.
- TYPF works primarily in the National Capital Region (NCR) and works with youth led groups with partnerships at national, regional and international levels. We have collaborated with youth groups and young activists from 13 states across India, including Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Kashmir, Nagaland, Gujarat and Bihar. Three examples are:
- From 2002 till date, we conduct regular capacity building trainings with youth networks such as the Indian Youth Climate Network, Students for the Promotion of International Law and with young people from diverse fields at forums such as National MDG Youth Summit and UN Change Makers Summit, Lattoo Academy (Calcutta) and Connecting Youth Organizations Nationwide (Bhopal and NCR) amongst others on sharing best practices and strategies that sustain and strengthen youth led work across different disciplines.
- In 2010, we hosted a National Technical Capacity Training with 20 youth service providers, with support from IPPF on ‘Addressing barriers to implementing sexuality education and implementing youth friendly health services
- TYPF has collaborated to host 4 emergency response initiatives to natural disasters, where possible, supporting students to go on site and work to ensure the implementation of the funding. These were raising funding and materials to support responses:
- The Earthquake in Kashmir and Gujarat (funding only)
- Subsequent floods in Bihar (in partnership with The Delhi School of Social Work) where we fundraised and sent trained staff and students to manage disaster relief in the worst affected regions including Madhepur, Saharsa, Purnea and Araria.
- Tsunami response in Pondicherry, where money was invested in supplies to secure two schools and a loan was provided to help two women start self-help groups amongst fisherman families, in the districts of Kuddukuppan and Mudhaliyarkuppam.
- In 2010, we were the first Indians to receive the Young Achievers Award from the first President of Nepal, in recognition of the work we have done both in India, as well as with our South Asia partners. Since 2008, we have been working with young leaders and partners from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines along with those in North America and Latin America at international forums such as the Asia Pacific Conference on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, the International Conference on AIDS in the Asia Pacific have ensured that as we address our issues and challenges on Sexuality Education collectively. This means that when we do work at policy tables, we are actually able to highlight voices working at the grassroots level. It has completely challenged our understanding and paradigm, of how we can impact social change and bring young activists from around the world together.
- Young activists at TYPF collaborate and partner with colleagues from organizations in Latin America, Africa and North America at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters (2008 to 2010) and has participated in the Clinton Global Initiative (2008), Women Deliver (2010), Global Health Council (2010), AIDS International Conference Vienna (2010) and has recently been invited to serve on UNESCO’s Global Advisory Group on Sexuality Education from 2010 – 2012. In 2008, Ex US President Bill Clinton invited us to feature our work and participate at the Clinton Global Initiative.
- TYPF conducts regular trainings with young people at regional and international forums on strategies advocating for ‘hot button’ issues in sexual and reproductive rights. Examples of partnerships are:
- 2011 – Training 19 young people from Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, China as part of the ‘Women’s Health and Rights Advocacy Partnerships’ Capacity Building Workshop on Advocacy in the South East Asia and Mekong region on Sexuality Education and drafting National Road Maps for Advocacy in all 7 countries.
- 2010 – Training 40 youth activists at the International AIDS Conference with UNESCO Paris on ‘ Developing the evidence base for advocating for Sexuality Education’.
- 2009 – 2010 – Training 20 youth activists at the International Women’s Health Coalition for 53rd and 54th Commission on the Status of Women in New York on ‘Advocating at the UN to ensure young people’s health and rights’.
- In 2009, TYPF was invited by GTZ to address the UNAIDS Inter Agency Task Team on Education on political recommendations for reaching at risk youth in the context of HIV/AIDS.
- We are currently serving on UNESCO’s Global Advisory Group for Sexuality Education, for the period of 2010 – 2012, and have facilitated trainings for UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF at the International AIDS Conference in 2010, along with addressing the Plenary Session at the Global Health Council and speaking at Women Deliver in 2010.
- Nationally, we have been advocating with the government in India on the need to include young people’s voices to draft strategies regarding their health and rights, working in 2009 and 2010 with UNFPA, UNESCO, the National AIDS Control Organization and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), as part of the review and/or drafting committees of the Adolescent Education Programme (AEP), National AIDS Framework and the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).
- In 2009, TYPF partnered with the Center for Human Progress and conducted ‘The Project 19 Annual Festival’ that has brought together over 600 marginalized rural and urban youth together in the NCR for 8 states in India to lobby collectively and articulate for their collective sexual rights. The festival brought together sex workers, IDU communities, HIV positive networks, young people and used performance, dialogue and film, bringing together 25 civil society organizations, UN and Government Agencies alike. The festival was successful in contributing towards mainstreaming awareness on sexuality and rights with public communities across the NCR and raising awareness on the same in the media, challenging an environment where the government focuses on reproductive health and not sexual rights.
- TYPF has worked with the National AIDS Control Organization and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, serving on the drafting committee of the 2010 National Strategic Framework for HIV Prevention for Adolescents and Young People and the 2006 National Drug Awareness Campaign on Substance Abuse.
- In 2008, we partnered with the Indian Youth Climate Network to work with over 100 young people from across the country to draft the very first Environment Charter for the Government of Delhi, looking at the increasing roles of energy, security and livelihood.
- The organization set up India’s first youth-led and run campaign for legalizing and supporting the implementation of sexuality education, partnering with youth organizations, civil society agencies, UN institutions and young people across India. And since then, ‘Know Your Body, Know Your Rights’ has trained over 300 young activists from different communities across 10 states India, using social networking, poster campaigns, national and state level meetings to bring young people’s voices to the fore.
- The campaign works in two languages, on ground and online and has brought together 4,800 responses from young people across India and 20 reviews from youth groups and activists of the Adolescence Education Programme (the curriculum that imparts sex education to children and young people in schools), encouraging young people to give feedback to government agencies and donors that consider young people’s health and rights in their work. For young people who have no access to the Internet, forms have been couriered to communities for inputs, working with partner youth organizations like Sahayog.
- In 2011, the campaign will travel to 2 states across the India, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, including where the curriculum is currently banned, to bring 150 additional youth people together for qualitative inputs on successful strategies to implement sexuality education, with additional recommendations for teachers, supported by UNESCO.
- TYPF will partner with Akshara to host one such consultation in Maharashtra and with Sahayog in Uttar Pradesh. The outcome of the campaign will be a series of reports by young people in Marathi, Hindi and English that with UNESCO’s support will be circulated to key decision makers, donor agencies and policy makers.
- TYPF has trained 5,000 young people as peer educators on the right to information act and promoting active citizenship, sexuality education and HIV prevention, music education and artist rights and life skills and mental health.
- In 2009 leading up to the 14th Lok Sabha Elections in India, our Right to Information Programme helped more than 4000 people in Delhi and Raipur, Chhattisgarh successfully register for their Voter Id Cards through a non partisan, apolitical campaign that provided young people information on how to engage with legislative processes and holding elected leaders accountable entitled ‘what does your vote want?’.
- The project has gone on to train more than 300 young people in India on how to use The Right to Information Act, in an effort to encourage civic participation in governance. An example is a success story we had in 2009 – 2010 in helping Mehzbeen, a young girl who lost her legs in an accident on the Delhi Metro and was promised compensation from the Chief Minister that she ultimately did not get, claim compensation and prosthetic legs from the government. We worked with her family in obtaining legal representation for her as well as sourcing and filing the requisite administrative and medical documentation required to lobby with the government to deliver on their promise.
- We have worked with over 30 schools in India, addressing issues of Life Skills, Mental Health and Child Rights with over 6,000 adolescents.
- Since 2005, we have supported 250 children in underprivileged communities access education and vocational opportunities that will empower them. Our education and health programme in communities has enabled 111 children to transition to formal schooling, with 4 children leaving the city and a 0% drop out rate since our programme began.
- Our film and literature division, The Butterfly Project, has trained 25 children at risk on digital storytelling and shooting, co-producing 8 short films with the children. Additionally, the project hosts ‘The Butterfly Project Film Series’ wherein amateur young filmmakers addressing human rights issues can showcase their work and raise their issues with larger communities. For many first time filmmakers, the festival is a national launch platform for their work and is reviewed by press agencies such as Tehelka.
- In 2009, we hosted ‘Vikalp’, a forum that brought together over 30 youth activists from 10 states across India leading their own initiatives addressing sexuality, disability, gender and HIV prevention in 10 states across the country to build a cross cutting dialogue on youth led work. As part of the same, we worked with UNFPA and UNESCO to raise funding so that 3 such initiatives could receive funding in Maharashtra, Chennai and Bhopal. The forum included a dialogue between young activists and the Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs, Shri MS Gill and the Deputy Director of UNFPA and Representative of UNESCO, on feedback from young people on where government support on these issues was needed.
- In 2009 we gave a Congressional Briefing to the United States Government on ‘global youth and a strategic investment’ for the Obama Administration.
- We have raised over 2 crores since our inception in 2002, through community fundraising initiatives, from donors, companies and individual members of the community and partnerships that has gone directly into funding youth led work in India.
The final outcome is a qualitative internalization and quantitative understanding of citizenship and Human Rights that an individual carries forward with them well past their years with the organization. The forward spreading impact of this work is seen best in the progress that our 5,000 odd alumni have made after leaving the organization, in terms of the issues they are professionally addressing. More than an approximate 40% of our alumni are working with Human Rights related issues through multiple disciplinarians where as an additional 20% graduate to establish their own organizations and initiatives that TYPF has continued to support. We recently participated in a competition at where about 162 people wrote about what their experiences with us meant to them, and the kind of personal development they experienced and how this has helped them. You can read these here. In 2011, TYPF is undertaking a study to analyze, understand and quantify its 10 year impact, that will help us strategize and course correct our work.
One such example is the success of Music Basti; a youth led organization3 that uses the creative arts as a medium to promote children’s rights that was founded by Faith Gonsalves, who worked as a part of the Staff and Peer Education team at The YP Foundation from 2007 – 2009. Music Basti does not assume that children would like to learn, but rather works with them on defining a common learning goal and works to achieve that target with their stakeholders, rather than for them. The level and definitive sense of skill and change comes from the children, who hold Faith and her team accountable for the highs and lows of learning and working together, in a space where the learner and learnee are equal stakeholders, positioning the arts as a medium for creating equality and perhaps, equity. The team brings together a diverse group of passionate volunteers that include the home staff of our partner the Center for Equity Studies, working across three of their homes for children, Khushi, Ummeed and Kilkari. The YP Foundation runs its programme for children on health and hygiene at the Ummeed Home for Boys, called Blending Spectrum and both programmes work with the children in a complementary manner. The activities and programs of Music Basti have included the participation of over 400 children and 500 volunteers so far, and reached out to over 1,00,000 people in Delhi and outside, through public programs and online campaigns.
Faith wrote to us a while back, sharing,
“I continue to think of The YP Foundation as an organization in the present tense, and not really a figment of the past. I think it holds relevance to me personally, and certainly to my work today. I can say the same for many others whom I have known, worked with and interacted with over the course of my association with the organization. To me … the true relevance of TYPF … creates lasting relationships and relevant situations for young people to converge and converse, and to create conventional, and sometimes exceptionally unconventional change… One of the key values I learnt during my time working with TYPF as a team member and staff member was perseverance. I worked in the Facilitative Branch (project on the Indian Education System), and as the Administrative Coordinator (2007-2008) with a host of projects. Subsequently to leaving the staff team, in 2008 I worked on another project of which I am very proud – a cultural exchange project with Afghan students in Delhi through film, art, literature and dialogue. TYPF gave me 100% freedom and creativity to source, compile and edit and design a 180-page magazine featuring work on the issue of “Understanding Afghanistan Today”. I can’t think of any other organization that would do that! … That experience though challenging, really helped me understand what goes into creating and sustaining development work, particularly [that], which is volunteer oriented. Though only with research, practice and experience have I really learnt what volunteer management, project management or program development are – I cannot honestly say I would have had the confidence to move out of TYPF and begin Music Basti. I owe the staff team and projects at TYPF for their trust in and encouragement to me.”
Our journey since has challenged our own assumptions and pushed us beyond what we thought we could do. We are nowhere near perfect in our politics; practices or ability to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of youth led work. By synchronizing our local, national, regional and international approaches to working with young people, we are working towards addressing global issues in a holistic manner, creating a more sustainable set of tools for upcoming generations of young leaders to empower themselves and their peers at local levels, which is where we believe primary change needs to be sustained.