A longtime anticipated event: the ISF

Two years ago, in 2018 when I first got introduced to World Youth Alliance mission and work, I was thrilled to join this global youth coalition and experience the internship at Headquarters Office. Luckily enough, I was selected as one of the WYA HQ interns for the first batch of 2020. One of my most longtime anticipated events in store for my batch was the International Solidarity Forum – an annual training hosted at the WYA headquarters and at the United Nations. I was excited to connect and network with certified members from all around the world, engage in the discussions with regard to its topic, the regional and plenary negotiations in conducting a declaration based on WYA’s views, and above all experience the cultural diversity throughout the week. This year’s topic was about Reproductive Health, which is one of WYA’s focus: advocating to include person- centered healthcare policies in different regions. I had high expectations and I would say that the ISF went beyond my expectations.

Around 30 delegates from different regions gathered in New York for the one-week ISF unforgettable experience. In the WYA HQ office, I was surrounded by quite a diverse international group of co-interns and was the only one hailing from Europe – it’s worth mentioning that my Spanish improved thanks to them. During the ISF, I had the opportunity to connect not only with delegates from different regions but also from my region with whom we negotiated incorporating the regional perspective regarding the topic into it’s outcome document. ISF was an intense week of discussions and negotiations in conducting the declaration, but it is worth to say that there were many fun activities as well. Getting to know the large international group of people, you get to explore their culture and food difference as well. During the ISF week, each of the region represented their regional cuisine by cooking for the other members and dining all together after the long days of discussions and negotiations.

ISF had a great start off the week with some icebreakers which always are fun and a good start of getting to know one another. On the first day was hosted the Manhattan International Film Festival an annual cultural initiative of WYA with the aim of recognizing the promising young directors who are committed to explore the depth of human condition. This year’s winning movie featured the importance of exercising the freedom of excellence by recognizing the intrinsic right to human dignity. The other days were followed by discussions with the experts on topics of the foundations of Reproductive Health, how FEMM meets women’s health needs, international development policy on Reproductive Health and how to bring FEMM back home. Two last days were spent on the regional and plenary negotiations leading to the release of the WYA declaration on the topic reflecting the discussions and WYA’s language on Reproductive Health.

As an intern at the WYA HQ office we were trained about FEMM as an education tool that enables women to exercise informed choices and empowers them by addressing health disparities. We are aware that informed decisions lead to healthier decisions, and that women play a key role in family and community health outcomes. It is true to say that the impact that FEMM has in women’s lives can be understood only by the success stories that we had the opportunity to hear from the experts. These stories are the real proof that education of women’s health about the science of their body is a much needed investment in achieving the empowerment of women and their inclusion in social and economic life.

Published: April 6, 2020
Written by Ermelinda Gjeci, WYA intern from Albania