Young Women

Shereen Essof and Maggie Mapondera ask, 'what's in a partnership?'
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JASS’ widely-recognizable symbol speaks right to the heart of women across the region. From rural activists in Northern Malawi to young women in Lusaka, the call to “cross the lines” of inequality and oppression rings true. See JASS SNA in action.
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Sexual and reproductive health rights are key issues for young women in Zambia. This year the constitution-making process provides a critical opportunity to put the debate on women’s bodies and choices around sexuality and abortion front and centre. In a context of staunch conservatism articulated by religious and traditional beliefs, there has been little progress on entrenching these rights. “Women in desperate circumstances will continue to seek backyard abortions and use herbs to attempt termination,” says JASS partner and Youth Vision Zambia Executive Director, Amos Mwale. "Meanwhile as we continue to debate, a lot of women continue to die from unsafe abortions in the townships, or from accessing the services of quacks."
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JASS SEA alum, Kamilia Manaf, was recently interviewed about the launch of a comic strip designed to teach LGBTQI youth about their rights using Yogyakarta principles. Her organization, the Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center is well-known for its cretaive use of ICTs to make LGBTQI rights accessible to a wide range of audiences.
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“Feminist movement builders in Indonesia are sharpening their pencils and booting up their laptops. Fourteen young women from across Indonesia recently came together to improve their writing skills as a critical tool for effective activism and advocacy. “I want to write about the difficulties experienced by rural women in accessing health facilities,” said Sutiyem.
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How does a woman have sex with another woman? Can a transgender person change both their internal and external sexual organs? Why would a gay person marry someone of the opposite sex and have children with them? A lot of “awkward questions” came out into the fresh air at JASS’ discussion in East Timor about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues. Twenty young women (and two men) from JASS’ young women’s network gathered to clear up confusion. “We don’t always know how to respond to challenging questions like these,” said one woman, or how to talk about LGBTI.
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I’m in Cambodia this week getting to know the women of the Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN) and their work around equipping young women with the confidence, information and skills needed to increase their participation in decision-making from the household to the legislature.
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