50th PCB - Intervention by Gastón Devisich - Agenda item 10 Thematic Segment

Delivered by Gastón Devisich, Latin America and the Caribbean, during the first panel of the Thematic Segment "Positive learning: harnessing the power of education to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination, empower young people and provide a comprehensive HIV response"


The intervention of the NGO Delegation at this very panel is about the value of peer-education. We often conceive it as an approach to health promotion, but it is so much more than that. It addresses the many expressions of stigma, bolsters one’s confidence and empowerment and provides a sense of belonging to many, for the first time in their lives. Peer-education is a double process: it enables you to do much more than just transfer capacities, it allows you to also catalyze emerging needs from your community.

In this matter, youth-led organizations face particular challenges throughout their life cycles. Meaning that once a young person reaches a certain age, you have to leave your organization for an adult-led one in order to continue your own personal path and make room for newer generations to speak up for themselves. It is not enough to have been young to understand today’s youth. For this reason, the growth, transitions and transformations of youth and youth-led organizations create great instability among youth-led organizations, as people come in, get to receive proper training and then have to leave, taking that symbolic capital with them.

If we want young people and adolescents to have a meaningful involvement in the HIV response, we need to support them in regards to peer-education. For youth to lead, we not only have to fund them and include them in decision-making, implementation and evaluation processes. We need to provide them with capacity building opportunities in order for them to develop their own sustainable training mechanisms and processes. This will allow youth to be able to exercise their autonomous voice and enhance an intersectional dialogue that can strengthen the history of youth-led response.

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