What actions are you taking to promote and protect the health and rights of women and young people worldwide?
I am the Founder and current President of Association of Former United Nations Interns (AFUNI) Azerbaijan – a youth-led NGO that is a network of all UN alumni in Azerbaijan.
In the frames of our Association we’ve held a number of events and charity actions, the most recent of which was a partnership with UNFPA Azerbaijan in implementation of regional project “Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in South Caucasus ” (RHIYC); selection and training of 12 local students for participation in the regional Model UN in Georgia as well as training schoolchildren for participation in Baku Model UN (MUN) for schoolchildren, the topic of which was “Gender equality”.
In 2008 I was certified by UNFPA Headquarters as a Y-PEER trainer in the field of peer education and reproductive health. Y-Peer (www.youthpeer.org) is an innovative youth-to-youth initiative, pioneered by UNFPA in 2002 in response to rapid spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. It includes more than 500 organizations and institutions and more than 3,000 young members working in the area of reproductive health.
My activities within these organizations and networks involved big advocacy work and getting the support of many stakeholders. Thus, I managed to get several local celebrities as Y-PEER Azerbaijan role models who advocate for healthy lifestyle of local youth; organised reproductive health trainings for community workers and disadvantaged groups (internally displaced persons/refugees) from Baku and regions; organized movie nights and follow up discussions on the eve of the World AIDS Day to raise awareness of AIDS as well as movie nights and follow up discussions on gender violence to share best practices and experiences on combating gender based violence (GBV). Our association in partnership with UNFPA Azerbaijan organised a movie screening of “Women on the Frontline” – a world renowned documentary series on GBV within UNFPA gender-based violence project for youth and NGO representatives.
What is your vision of lasting change for yourself and for the world's young people?
My vision of lasting change is in education. I strongly believe education determines who you become in life and influences life decisions. Education should be available to all young people – both male and females – starting from primary school. This will create a forum for an open discussion between women and men and raise awareness of gender as well as increase women’s participation in economic and social life since educated women means empowered women.
If you could tell world leaders one thing, what would it be?
People tend to criticize governments for inability to solve global problems. Sometimes this requires much funding and human resources. I’d simply discuss with them how youth can support and get involved in already existing projects where the governments lack human resources – I believe this will be more effective and practical.