UNFPAState of World Population 2003
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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2003: Giving Priority to Adolescents
State of World Population
Overview of Adolescent Life
Gender Inequality and Reproductive Health
HIV/AIDS and Adolescents
Promoting Healthier Behavior
Meeting Reproductive Health Services Needs
Comprehensive Programmes for Adolescents
Giving Priority to Adolescents
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Giving Priority to Adolescents

Policy Environment
Rights-based Programmes
Mobilizing Community Support
Involving Young People in Programming
The Costs of Failing to Act

Mobilizing Community Support

Even where good policies and laws have been developed, implementation has been slow and difficult. Programmes addressing restrictive social norms and promoting behaviour change require advocacy efforts to gain the active involvement of communities and reflect their local concerns, values and priorities.

Community mobilization efforts target opinion makers to encourage a more favourable climate for project implementation, and also seek to involve them in programme definition and design. This is a dynamic process that aims to ascertain the needs and interests of broad sectors of the community. Community members involved in this way become agents of social change themselves, helping to minimize opposition while advancing policy and programme goals.(14)

A number of youth programmes have successfully used a community mobilization approach known as Participatory Learning for Action. PLA involves people in examining their own situations and devising solutions to the challenges they face.

A PLA in Lusaka, Zambia, was used to design an adolescent reproductive health programme including youth-friendly services, peer counsellors and community-based distribution of contraceptives.(15) In Cambodia, a PLA in a garment factory employed a large number of young workers to develop a curriculum for a workplace programme on reproductive health.(16)

In Burkina Faso, a community participation project led by a national NGO strengthened three youth associations based in rural communities. In turn, these groups engaged community members, especially youth, in designing community-based programmes to address key reproductive health issues of concern to them.(17) The result was improved knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, increased ability to discuss sexuality issues openly, better negotiation skills for condom use, and improved access to contraception.

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee has built community support for adolescent development, including delayed marriage, by providing a credit programme designed in response to local perceived needs.(18)

Community mobilization is particularly effective when undertaken by networks of NGOs addressing specific social groups that can work together, share lessons and skills learned, and pool resources.

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