Leading up the 2017 Psychosocial Forum (PSS Forum), RIATT-ESA (Regional Inter-Agency Task Team on Children and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa) and REPSSI (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative) are co-hosting a Children and Youth Forum from the 2nd to the 3rd of September 2017. This forum has brought together about 80 children and youth between the ages of 12 and 25 years, from 13 eastern and southern African countries.
The children and youth forum was opened by an esteemed panel of champions for children and youth rights. Including Hon. Sihaba Nkinga Minister of Health, Community Development, Elderly and Children from Tanzania; Margaret Mussai Director for Children’s Development Tanzania; Brian Musioka Children’s Parliament, Kenya; Joel Festo Chairperson Children’s Council, Tanzania; Noreen Huni REPSSI CEO; and Jacob Glasier, Ambassador for EGPAF, founder of Modern Advocate and champion for the rights of children living with HIV.
Jake Glaser opened the morning with a strong message of courage in fighting stigma related to HIV and calling on the youth to not let their circumstances or heath define who they are. This message set the stage for a morning of empowerment, asking the youth to use this platform to call governments and NGOs to action.
Regional and international conferences are spaces that tend to exclude children and youth. The Children and Youth Forum brings the youth perspective into theses spaces, policy and programming. This conference is a platform for children and youth to engage and share their experiences, lessons and discuss key development issues that affect them. From the conference, children and youth will come up with resolutions which are then presented to the larger Regional PSS Forum by child representatives.