Global Dialogues and Hivos connecting young voices everywhere on HIV/Aids and Sexual Diversity

May 16, 2013

Although youth make up a disproportionately high percentage of those infected by HIV/Aids worldwide, their perspectives and experiences regarding sexuality, sexual diversity and HIV/Aids remain largely unknown. As a result, youth seldom take central stage in SRHR policies and programming, resources allocated for youth are often insufficient and sexual diversity is rarely included as a thematic issue – constructively – by governments and civil society.

To help counter-act this situation, the Global Dialogues process initiated in 1997 promotes global public health and societal well-being through youth-driven solutions. Among others, it sponsors global contests that invite participants to submit videos, short stories, film scripts, poems and narratives on HIV/Aids, sexual and gender based violence, sexual diversity and reproductive health for an international story-creating competition. The best and most original ideas contained in the stories will be turned into films by some of world’s greatest directors and young cinema talents. The Global Dialogues films are viewed by millions of people every year on TV and on the internet.

In order to give youth a voice and connect young people worldwide on this issue, Hivos and Global Dialogues Trust have started a programme that combines the Hivos network of local LGBT, HIV/Aids and youth partner organisations with the Global Dialogues Trust network and experience in filmmaking and media outreach. This three-year programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is called “Global Dialogues: Connecting Voices of Youth” and is executed jointly by Hivos and Global Dialogues Trust.

The main medium used to bring together youth on SRHR issues with an explicit focus on sexual diversity and HIV/Aids is film, which is a powerful way of breaking taboos and stimulating interaction between young people the world over.

Based on the winning youth narratives from 2012, the Global Dialogues programme launched its new groundbreaking video “Face Off” in May 2013. It examines sexual diversity and questions of tolerance versus condemnation, understanding versus prejudice, and love versus hatred. The video will be used worldwide to combat homophobia and advocate for the need for tolerance.

The newest activity within the Global Dialogues programme is the first ‘Video Challenge’, in which youth worldwide are encouraged to participate in making a video about being “Young and HIV Positive”. The film will present youth perspectives and connect young people everywhere to discuss topics such as love, sex and exclusion.

“Global Dialogues: Connecting Voices of Youth” is implemented by Hivos Regional Offices in Kenya, Indonesia and Guatemala, where the Global Dialogues outreach teams operate at community level to engage young people in innovative, participatory activities designed to encourage and amplify their voices.

The programme is also implemented at a global level through projects coordinated by Global Dialogues Trust through, among others, international contests in which young people create narratives about global public health issues and other topics they consider of vital importance. The films based on their stories then serve as educational tools and advocacy materials to make opinion leaders and policy makers in target countries aware of young people’s perspectives.

Support for “Global Dialogues: Connecting Voices of Youth” is managed by Hivos’ Rights & Citizenship programme, within the focus area HIV/Aids & High Risk Groups.