Meet Our Members
YouAct is currently made up of young people between 18-28 years old from across the Council of Europe member states.
Current membership includes young people from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Kosovo, Ireland, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
The Network’s Coordinator is Adriana Pereira from Portugal.
My involvement in the youth NGO field sector started when I was 15 years old and I became a volunteer of Youth for Youth (member of the Y-PEER Network) working on issues related to youth health and rights, in particular sexual and reproductive health and rights. Since then, I have collaborated with partners from Europe, Central Asia, Arab States and Asia Pacific to organize various capacity building events, conferences and advocacy initiatives.
I got to know YouAct members and some of their activities in 2010 and since then we have been involved in several youth SRHR coalitions. Few years later, in the autumn of 2014, I got even closer to YouAct and became the network coordinator.
Being part of YouAct brings me the personal and professional satisfaction of working towards something meaningful, towards realization of youth sexual reproductive rights, towards sexuality being accepted as a positive aspect in life.
I enjoy being in touch with people coming from different countries, with different backgrounds and exploring aspects of youth empowerment, various team dynamics, building partnerships, management and coordination of various activities.
I strongly believe in everyone’s right of choice, especially in regards to sexuality. With this comes the importance of education, and raising awareness about current issues on gender and sexuality around the world, and the ways to overcome them. Another important aspect of these rights is respect and encouragement of cultural exchange and understanding. I am extremely excited to become a part of YouAct, and to be able to contribute in the work that they do.
Becoming a member of a European network working on SRHR at an advocacy level such as YouAct, felt like a natural sequence in my SRHR journey. While, a YouAct member gains important knowledge and new skills, at the same time every member’s experience, knowledge and time contribute to create something with a higher impact that extents the country levels and reaches European and international levels. What really amazes me in the SRHR world is that the work we do has so much to do with the human existence and what we fight for is nothing more and nothing less than for everyone to be able to exercise their rights. By being part of YouAct, a team of passionate young people, you know that the time you offer, not only has a positive impact to you, but can also impacts young people all over Europe.
My engagement started within the Swedish member organization of IPPF RFSU (the association for sexual education). At RFSU I’ve been working at a regional and national level focusing on SRHR for everyone in every county, the right to abortion and international SRHR. Right now my engagement in RFSU is a network of youths working with advocate within the field of SRHR on a national level.
My motivation of becoming a YouAct member started out when I became engaged within international politics and recognized the need of youth voices to be heard in the debates around SRHR within Europe and all over the globe. I saw YouAct as the one organization really making a difference in these questions and the factor that it’s an organization all youth lead made my choice to get involved easy.
For the last half year I’ve been a member of YouAct and the organization have given me more experience and fun than I could ask for. The responsibility and respect we members give each other is making our and other youth voices heard in places where we are needed.
I first heard about YouAct, back in Cyprus from fellow SRHR volunteers, who are either members or worked with the organisation (Charoula, Despina). Then by taking over YSAFE coordination I learnt more about YouAct, by assisting to the input provision for the European Advocacy Handbook, attending the EP hearing on CSE and co-writing an article for Entres-Nous magazine with then YouAct coordinator: Grace Wilentz. As my membership with YSAFE came to an end when I became 25, I did not want to stop working in the SRHR field, because of my age. Therefore, when the membership call was out, I went for it!
While discovering the intricacies of lobbying and advocacy for health, I found myself in the need to seek for a more domestic contribution to the cause within my community in Scotland. That was when I came across Shafted Theatrical Dissidents, discovering the potentials of grassroots activism, and community empowerment. By collaborating in this project creating and organizing a cabaret performance show to raise awareness of the realities encountered by people living with HIV in Scotland, I explored further the powers of using humor, dance, the spoken word, and theater as tools for tackling stigma, and giving people in marginalized contexts a chance to bring their issues forward.
I have received the opportunity of becoming a new member of YouAct with excitement. My previous experience in SRHR advocacy mostly focused on sexual health, however I strongly believe there cannot be progress in public health without procuring people with the rights to health, to choose, or to be educated. I see working with YouAct as an excellent opportunity to build up on my knowledge on human rights, to work with other pro-active young people with comparable interests, and to contribute with my knowledge and cooperation towards SRHR in Europe. On the other side, I will also take this as a chance to promote youth-led participation in my close communities, both in Barcelona, where I will be based, and Scotland, where I have lived most of my youth, to enable them to be heard and represented. I consider myself as part of an ever-growing youth committed to bringing social change. Through working on advocacy towards SRHR I will continue to co-operate to improve our own future.
My interest in advocacy lead me to YouAct. I had through YSAFE had the pleasure of working with YouAct members before, so it seemed very natural for me to continue my youth SRHR work with them.
Being part of YouAct gives you the empowerment to keep working on SRHR issues. Even though I am a rather new member, I have already had the chance to engage in different projects and working with diferent people and issues. I like how YouAct can offer it’s members both long-term in depth projects as well as here-and-now advocacy possibilities – for example when we have to mobilize our members to engage with their MEPs, when they are voting on SRHR issues.
I’ve joined YouAct because I believe that intensified actions for youth SRHR are necessary and YouAct is for me the example of an organization successfully advocating for youth rights. The energy of YouAct members, their experience and tireless continuous work for young people mobilizes me and enables to improve my expertise.
I joined YouAct because I am a strong supporter of gender equality and I wanted to gain advocacy skills in order to be able to better promote women S&RH rights. Being part of YouAct is a rewarding experience on multiple levels because I get the chance to speak, write, act, react, learn and teach, and most importantly, because it gives me the needed legitimacy to speak in favor of justice, gender equality and women empowerment.
I had always been impressed of the high level of expertise and motivation of the volunteers in YouAct before I joined the network. I joined YouAct because I wanted to develop my advocacy skills and work alongside with people who share my interests. YouAct gives me opportunities to be part of European and international campaigns, meet decision makers and collaborate with different organisations. As a member of YouAct I have the chance to bring changes on topics I feel very passionate about and constantly develop my skills and learn from our work.
My motivation is to make a visible improvement in promoting sexual and reproductive health among teenagers and young people, to break stereotypes and start talk about sexual health. That is why I joined team of Union of Adolescents and Youth ”Teenergizer” in Ukraine.
I am very excited about possibility to join YouAct and to cooperate with passionate young professionals from all over Europe. Working together would help to exchange the best practices of advocating for SRH as human rights. The name of this network is YouAct. For me, it means taking responsibility for reality you are living in and use a chance to make a positive impact through action.
Membership at YouAct I consider as an opportunity to participate in development of common strategy on youth advocating for SRH across Europe. Some countries are much ahead. However, only in joint effort we can reach a common goal.
Even though I am only 18 years old, I want to bring real results to the improvement of the quality of life of teenagers, touched by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Eastern European and Central Asian Region. By joining YouAct, I think it is a good opportunity for me to get new information, that can be useful in work at home and in my region. Also, I can share my experience with the rest of the members of YouAct.
In March 2014 I have been involved with the European Dialogue, organised by YouAct and CHOICE, and got to share my SRHR story in the European Parliament, focussing on the differences in SRHR dialogues that religious and secular organisations have and emphasised the need for Comprehensive Sexual Education.
Next steps included capacity building at a local NGO based in South Africa. Here I updated their comprehensive HIV and AIDS training manual and worked on the ‘Thursdays in Black’ campaign, a programme raising awareness and advocating against Gender Based Violence. Whilst working in sub-Saharan Africa I noticed that a rights-based approach is not always sufficient within this context, and local norms and values, including religion, should be addressed too.
The main reason for becoming a member of YouAct is that I want to formalise my commitment to SRHR advocacy, and would like to be the link between the public and religious spheres. Furthermore, during my work in South Africa, I’ve gained extensive experience on Gender Based Violence, HIV and AIDS, and SRHR and would love to share this knowledge and skills with other YouAct members. Finally, I want to give youth a voice in decision-making. Especially regarding decisions that influence their lives, e.g. access to sexual and reproductive health facilities, adequate sexual education and information sharing. As I personally experienced the constraints of being insufficiently informed, I want to help inform others.
My first involvement with YouAct was in 2008 when I have took part in an advocacy training. In fact that was one of the reasons why I have decided to continue my professional involvement within the advocacy and policy world. In addition I see YouAct as an unique platform where I can continue working for SRHR promotion of young people. On another hand my involvement was mainly focused in the regions of Eastern Europe, Arab States and the Asia-Pacific so YouAct would build on my capacity by giving me access to work within the entire Europe.
I believe that in order to improve peoples’ sexual health and wellbeing, knowledge of rights and education is essential. As a result, I want to be part of an organisation which works to improve rights and education for young people. Furthermore, I believe greater change is able to be enacted when people come together from many different backgrounds with the same ideals and ambitions. Because of YouAct’s Europe-wide reach, it is an attractive organisation to be a part of in order to influence change.
While working with PSI and dance4life I realized how important SRHR issues are. Ensuring equality, safety and security is extremely connected to SRHR, a fact that is often overlooked or ignored within development and humanitarian contexts. Recognizing that involving youth and encouraging them to realize their opinions are valued is extremely important for the benefit of the global community. YouAct recognizes this and encourages youth involvement in a productive way, in a way that I would be proud of contributing to. I heard about YouAct when I was part of a workshop on SRHR in Humanitarian contexts, and was impressed. I want to be part of such a professional youth organization.
Without meaningful youth participation, any political agreement or law that affects young people will be fundamentally flawed – yet, youth are often overlooked and undermined in political processes. As a lifelong activist, I have experienced firsthand the difficulties faced by young people trying to play an active role in adult-centric organisations and campaigns. As a youth-based organisation, YouAct exists to promote youth interests, build the capacity of young people, and create opportunities for participation that may otherwise be difficult to access. Who wouldn’t want to be involved? I hope to contribute to the network as much as I gain, particularly through my background in writing and communication.
My main academic, and work developments were to engage in advocating for more evidence-based policymaking. Thus, those stories made me use this background to contribute more to the SRHR agenda.
My main motivation to become a YouAct member is because I think this community’s goal is perfectly aligned with my goal – which is to steer forward sexual reproductive and health rights. I want to be part of a community in which together we create a strategy, agenda, and clear goals which will help us mobilize the community towards advancing sexual reproductive and health rights. I think I can bring to the community experience, and context analysis for my country and help them help me to help our country. As you can see I emphasize that helping each other is the ultimate way of reaching our goals, and I think this community offers exactly that.
On one hand, i want to get more involved in a international frame and on the other hand i think that exchanging “know how” from an area to another and coalising, helps building the background SRHR needs in so many countries around Europe and not only.
Through YouAct, we have a great opportunity to do so and it’s a wonderful place to grow up youth implication.
Through working on the issue of sexual and reproductive rights for the past few years, I have realized how passionate I am about this cause. Ireland’s abortion law is not only restrictive – it is completely inhumane, and I am committed to trying to repeal it. I wish to empower other young people to stand up for these issues and to recognise bodily autonomy as a human right, not a privilege.
I admire the mission of YouAct and believe that becoming a member with the organisation would allow me to more effectively apply my passion for SRHR. I am involved in abortion rights and LGBTQI rights campaigning and I think that membership would help to equip me with the skills needed to make a more lasting change in these areas, which is something that I am very passionate about.
I wish to become a YouAct member to first and foremost work for the advancement of sexual and reproductive rights, and (hopefully) make a positive contribution in this field. My passion lies in sexual and reproductive rights, particularly access to safe and legal abortion, and this is what I want to spend my life working for. I believe becoming a YouAct member would be the ideal next step, and I would value the learning and development opportunities membership would provide me with, particularly the opportunity to further my experience of European advocacy work, as this is ultimately the area in which I aim to work. Additionally, I would enjoy connecting with fellow activists around Europe and the world, making new friends and allies, and sharing information and knowledge to learn more about sexual and reproductive rights on a European and global level. Furthermore, given the current barriers to abortion in the country, I wish to raise the global profile of Scotland in relation to sexual and reproductive rights, and I believe YouAct could give me the platform to do this.
Since I have been working in the field of youth SRHR for past five years, my experience and attitudes to work gives me motivation to become a member of international organization, which will be next successful step and new opportunities to wide my work. I love sharing and I really enjoy when I can share my knowledge, experience, ideas and resources. I think being member of YouAct will be great opportunity to share ideas and put my contribution on international level and also share gained information and experience among my peers in my community as well.
In the context of the bulgarian educational system and the economic and political reality I’m living in, I feel that the importance of education (including CSE) has become even greater. In that connection I believe that every young person should have the opportunity to have his voice heard and taken into account in the decision-making process. For me, being a member of a global network like YouAct, will give me the opportunity to share experience, ideas and to learn a lot from active young people around the world, so I could have the capacity to be an active advocate for youth rights in my own country.
I am volunteering and working in the area of SRHR for 3 years now and I feel I have acquired a lot knowledge, skills and experience that would be a pity to go to waste. My internship in IPPF as YSAFE Coordinator is finishing this August, but I am motivated to stay active in the field of SRHR.
When I was at the second grade in University (2003) I joined a university club called “Fight Against AIDS”. That’s when I learnt more on HIV/AIDS and started doing outreach activities within the university. Later on I was trained as peer educator on SRHR by Y-PEER Network and UNFPA which enabled me both in terms of knowledge and skills on youth SRHR. Later on with my involvement in national and international activities in Y-PEER Network I heard about YouAct, I applied and selected as a member in 2006.
While working on youth SRHR issues within Turkey, European region and globally, I was graduated from university as a science teacher and already decided then I should focus on more SRHR so I enrolled to Masters on Women and Gender Studies which was an amazing opportunity to academically be involved in gender issues with SRHR perspective. Around the same time with Masters , I have started working for UNFPA Turkey Country Office as a Youth Project Assistant, coordinating a youth SRHR campaign in Turkey. Since 2007 I have been working with UNFPA under Reproductive Health Programme where I am Programme Associate under RH Programme.
2. What was the most important opportunity you had as YouAct member? There are many but I can list what I believe the most important two opportunities ;
1 – I was part of advocacy task force (ATF) and we organized a hearing at the European Parliament. Prior to the Hearing we organized a capacity building workshop with young people from the region and I found it very empowering to work with young people from different organization and developing a joint statement together. Following day I had one of the greatest – most unique opportunity to chair the Hearing.
2- I was part of YouAct Steering Committee for two years , in my second year I was the chair of the organization. I was lucky enough to work closely on development of the organization internally and representing YouAct to its partners . Those two years indeed helped me many ways to become who I am today.
3. How did YouAct membership influenced who you are / what you do today?
This is the most difficult question, where should I s tart 🙂 Overall I can say during my membership in YouAct I have learnt that you do not need to be in a huge organization to make change, you need to be able to work in a team that is effective. Also you do not need to meet face to face in order to work (although that would be amazing), you can get creative using wonders of internet.
Moreover because of YouAct, I have improved my knowledge and skills on advocacy, especially on SRHR issues . I also learnt a lot regarding the SRHR s ituation in European countries , how European Union functions and so on. I got to meet and work with many advocates throughout the world and learnt each and every one of them. Last but not least, YouActers those amazing people I got to work with thought me a lot about international friends hip.
One of the reasons why I want to become a YouAct member is that I think that I can learn about and gain experience in SRHR. I have a genuine interest in working with SRHR and always want to broaden my knowledge. I also find it motivating that I will be able to meet and share experiences with other young people from different countries.
My special anxiety is concerning gender discrimination, LGBTQ rights, violence and is caused with that as the practical worker I observed intended distortions of a HR problematic both in authorities, non-governmental sector and in mass media. That motivated me to become You-ACT member. Being part of You-Act young people I have gained new and developed existing skills in advocacy and SRHR cause all these serious and painful problems should be professionally discussed not only by politicians, but also by youth, and also within the non-formal environment. With You-Act help I attended a number of trainings, conferences, meetings focusing on SRHR and HIV&AIDS. I started exploring SRHR within my local community but as well international community as well supported young people to explore SRHR.
Only having united our efforts on the basis of respectable cooperation, we can find decisions for these problems and prevent SRHR.
I have been working in SRHR field for last 7 years . started at Campaign Against Homophobia, later with Trans -fuzja, Ponton sex educators and IGLYO, You Act and now both in Campaign Against Homophobia and my own Sex Positive Institute. I work in help (psychologist,sexologist) , educator (workshops on GSD- gender and sexual diversities and activist for sexposotve/critical movements .
2.What was the most important opportunity you had as YouAct member?
In YouAct i was responsible for news digest, it kept me up to date with all the news and groups working in this field.
3.How did YouAct membership influenced who you are / what you do today?
I continue this work, I train professionals , educate peer groups , I am also covering media sex education to mainstream.
During the time with YouAct, I had the opportunity to facilitated several trainings on human rights, youth sexual and reproductive health and rights , youth participation etc. I learned a lot about working with the youth led organization by given the opportunity to served as a member of steering committee, fundraising officer and communications task force member. I has been involved in various national and international events as a participant and presenter.
Today, having worked in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights for 7 years , looking back I realize that YouAct membership influenced me strongly, allowing me to grow professionally and personally. At YouAct, I had excellent mentors , who taught me how to share my experiences with others . I developed leadership skills needed to effectively advocate for sexual and reproductive rights and influence global processes .
My active involvement in the SRHR sphere began with my membership in You Act. Beforehand, I was manly dealing with gender-based violence topics . That happened in 2009 when I applied for a volunteer. Since then, I am a keen activist pushing for the realization of women and young people’s SRHR. My work experience includes , among other, implementing youth campaigns for HIV prevention, safe sex and healthy relationships. Lobbying on national and international levels for women’s right to abortion and eradication of violence against laboring women.
2. What was the most important opportunity you had as YouAct member?
I consider my participation in You Act as a very important experience. As a member I had the chance to meet wonderful and likeminded young people who expanded my viewpoints in life. I admired the determination of our members and learned how to take an active s tand s o that young people’s voices are heard. The collaboration with other members gave me discipline and patience in our mutual work. I expanded my knowledge on different cultures and social backgrounds . A very exciting part was when I had the chance to participate in key international meetings like Women Deliver, CSW 2010, and World Youth Catholic Day 2011.
3. How did YouAct members hip influenced who you are / what you do today?
I keep very warm memories which I believe have made me a better and ultra-tolerant person. It was a very happy and fulfilling period that had its role in my decision on career development. I acquired essential s kills in advocacy, lobbying and campaigning and met very committed and inspiring young people.
My work in SRHR started early with my parents doing sex education in schools and me being embarassed with them. At 24 years I started meeting more people involved in pro-abortion movements in Portugal, in family planning and LGBT community. That is how I came to the SRHR wonderful field.
2.What was the most important opportunity you had as YouAct member?
Cannot say. They were so many wonderful opportunities and amazing moments . I can say this : I had knowledge, people and skills that I will never forget.
3.How did YouAct membership influenced who you are / what you do today?
In many ways – I learned how SRHR can be so different in different cultures (and similar!); I made friends that still make me happy and privileged to have in my relations ; I developed skills in advocacy, therapy, team work that would not be developed this way without YouAct.