It is now ten months since I began my graduate studies in Health Sciences in Bioethics at Makerere University, and I'm excited to put the theories I've learned into action as a Global Advisor with the Vibrant Young Voices(VYV) Consortium by Y+ Global. The VYV Consortium is a strategic partnership focused on strengthening movement leadership and promoting a strong culture of learning and improvement.
I have been a youth leader since 2018 and part of different fellowships and programs, however this new role as a global advisor is unique because along with other Global Advisors, we are consulted, engaged and this empowers us.This is exemplified by the meaningful engagements to which we are exposed, such as those in which we meet experts as well as diverse people who challenge us.
When I applied for this global role, I wanted to ensure that decisions or recommendations made are ethical and the methods of engaging young people are appropriate.
It's now four months since I started in this role, and the responsibility that comes with it is mirrored in my daily life, my community, and any spaces I engage in.
The Vibrant Young Voices consortium supported my attendance at the International Workshop on HIV & Adolescence 2022, which took place in Capetown, South Africa, from the 5th to the 6th of October.
This workshop is designed as an inclusive summit for multidisciplinary experts working with adolescents in their diversity living with and affected by HIV. During this workshop, experiences, knowledge, and best practices that define a pathway forward for optimizing the care of adolescents living with HIV were shared. Apart from attending the workshop, my role during the workshop was to share about youth leadership and ethical engagement of young people, to contribute to the space and learn from the speakers and their experiences.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend the in person meeting because my visa came in late but I was able to participate virtually. I was able to take part in a podcast session on Youth Leadership And Ethical Engagement Of Young People together with Professor Linda Gail Bekker, the workshop chair, and unpacked the following questions.
What does leadership mean for young people? And how can they be held accountable by their peers
It means granting young people the opportunity to take up roles, influence and make decisions that contribute to their development and their communities in their own way, with appropriate mentorship and coaching. It equally means letting young people understand and discover themselves. For Example a young leader should understand who they are, their strengths, weaknesses so that they can utilize their strengths and manage their weaknesses. It also means recognising the same for the people that surround them. When young people know themselves and their people, they will recognise how to relate, delegate and execute based on their needs and wants. Is ethical engagement of young people possible?or are we asking for too much? What will it take to ethically and meaningfully engage young people? It is possible, because it is done to prevent any form of exploitation. The approach is taken because it benefits young people, it prevents any form of harm, risks are mitigated, and there is justice. Observing ethics emerged from research that is done on humans to prevent any form of exploitation. This approach if used in our daily lives would yield more results and build or shape communities. However, it should be conducted in a way that is empowering rather than disempowering. Ethical engagement should be taught to people, especially people that work with young people, and to young people. It is from learning that we practice.
I learned that young people know it all. While they need support and guidance, in many ways, this should be accorded to their needs. There are also many organizations that would like to ethically engage young people but are not sure how to do it in a meaningful way. It starts with asking young people what they want, and engaging with them, learning from practicing organizations like Y+ global, and making use of their resources such as the Why We Matter.
Compiled by Patricia Humura, VYV Youth Advisor