The power of youth participation: Secures essential vitamin supplements for unmarried, adolescent girls.

A youth group leader engages with members of the village council.
(Photograph © Prashant Panjiar for India HIV/AIDS Alliance)

In Bahadur Block of Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh, young people have ensured the access to iron and folic acid supplements for adolescent girls in their locality. Iron and folic acid deficiency is common in similar locations since residents in these areas receive inadequate nutrition, which can lead to anemia and symptoms such as fatigue.

This marks a novel move for Bahadur Block since these supplements were earlier provided only to pregnant women, and a significant move for the youth groups in this area which continue to play a powerful role in village level health programmes. This particular youth group frequently attended Gram Sabha, or village council, level meetings which emphasises the importance that the village elders in Bahadur Block place on the opinions of youth group members. It was during one such meeting when youth group members had expressed the need to disseminate these essential supplements to young girls in their village, to which the village leaders agreed.

Youth group members feel proud of the important role they have been playing in the development of their villages. Group members have created a change in the awareness levels of villagers at a scale that few believed was possible in such a short amount of time.
(Photograph © Prashant Panjiar for India HIV/AIDS Alliance)

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The Action Project is funded by the European Commission and endeavours to strengthen and empower civil society organisations and youth groups to advocate for more responsive policies addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people. The project focuses on the most marginalised young people—MSM and transgender community members, drug users, sex workers and those living with HIV. The project is being implemented in partnership with MAMTA and SASO in India and by HASAB in Bangladesh.  By 2013, the Action Project will have contributed to shaping SRHR policies and their implementation in India and Bangladesh by supporting the meaningful participation of young people in relevant processes and programmes.

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