Making Youth Voices Count in time of Covid-19!

By January 19, 2021 Newsroom, Regional

Contributor:
Youth Voices Count


Youth Voices Count is a regional network of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex individuals in Asia-Pacific working on SRHR, SOGIESC, Youth Empowerment, and Human Rights issues. Established in 2010, YVC engages in community mobilization, national, regional and global advocacy related to young people belonging to diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and sex characteristics. Currently, Youth Voices Count maintains a membership of around 200 young LGBTIQ persons from across Asia and the Pacific. Youth Voices Count’s work can be followed through our Website and Facebook Page

How has COVID-19 affected the work that your organization is doing? How has your organization adapted to COVID-19?

Youth Voices Count has had to adapt to the present situation of COVID-19 by limiting any form of physical activities in our main office in the Philippines and advising our partners and member organizations to reconsider any physical activities. Our current regional secretariat is scattered across the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand so we utilize digital tools to effectively do our work. 

Did you initiate specific projects in response to COVID-19? Would it be possible to briefly share these responses?

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, since February 2020, YVC was able to host several focus group discussions, online webinars and learning sessions, interviews and surveys alongside various partners. Which led us to put together a report entitled, #CopingWithCOVID: the wellbeing of adolescents and youth LGBTIQ during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our study evinced that, The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) youth around the world. 

In Asia and the Pacific, pandemic-related measures have limited the movement and public gatherings that have negatively affected social interactions as well as resulted in loss of economic opportunity and work of many LGBTIQ youth. Similarly, these measures have also magnified the inequality and have furthered the stigma and discrimination that LGBTIQ youth persons experience. The full publication can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/CopingWithCOVID-discussion-paper 

This study has also highlighted the wellbeing and mental health needs of LGBTIQ adolescents and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. A blog article was written by YVC to highlight these findings after the survey and webinar organized alongside the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific. This need for virtual safe spaces that provide peer support for LGBTIQ adolescents and youth as led us to working closely with Prism Chat. Prism Chat is an anonymous chat support system for the LGBTQ+ community. YVC has been mentoring and assisting in the growth of the platform. 

Youth Voices Count was also able to support LGBTIQ communities in the Philippines thru our COVID-19 Emergency Response work. We targeted LGBTIQ adolescents and youth in Quezon City, Tacloban City, Roxas City, and Iloilo City, Philippines.  Our “Rainbow Relief Packs” contained sanitary pads for women, condoms and lubricants, food items, including rice and canned meat, and dental kits.

Additionally, our IGNITE! Empowerment Grants partners were also able to utilize some funds from our small grants programme in Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh to support COVID-19 response initiatives in their countries. In most cases, they provided food packs to LGBTIQ communities most affected by the pandemic. In Bangladesh, our partners, Inclusive Bangladesh, also assisted LGBTIQ communities who were economically affected by the pandemic by providing employability skills development sessions. 

More information here:

Essential food items and relief packs provided to LGBTIQ communities in Sri Lanka by our IGNITE! Empowerment Grants Partner, Equite

Anything else you wish to share?

As part of our focus areas and network functions on developing safe spaces for young key populations, especially LGBTIQ youth. Youth Voices Count has partnered up with Queer Theologian in Praxis (Q-TIPS) for an online course on Queer Christian Theology. The unapologetic aim of this course is to advance the cause of queer justice in faith communities and churches and to deepen the theory and practice of contextual queer theologians. The course will run from August 17 to December 21, 2020, this course is open to young people from the Asia-Pacific region. The aim of this online course is to create allies with faith communities and collectively find solutions to social issues, including discrimination against LGBTIQ youth, care and support for people living with HIV, and social justice and human rights championed by faith leaders and organizations.