Young people account for 40 percent
of new HIV infections around the world, yet most of the policy surrounding
prevention of the disease ignores youth (ages 15-24). Building on their
previous success, the Mexico 2008 YouthForce decided to continue this
dialogue with a commitments desk.
Some commitments to date include
pledges to make youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
services more youth-friendly; to create leadership positions for young
people, and to start an SRHR campaign for young women.
On Monday morning, the Mayor
of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, stopped by. We were also excited
when Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, visited
the Youth Pavilion to address young people on his work with HIV/AIDS.
He spoke briefly to a strictly screened audience (no one over 29 years
old). He emphasized the problems of stigma and discrimination towards
people living with HIV and AIDS, but failed to take advantage of the
opportunity to make a commitment to youth.
As a member of YouthForce,
I was disappointed that Ban Ki-Moon did not provide us with the respect
of acknowledging our rights. Furthermore, he failed to make a
pledge at the commitments desk. The commitments desk was created to
help decision-makers commit to youth. Why is it so difficult for
many leaders do so?