Hrachuhi Yeghiazaryan: I am Hrachuhi from Armenia. I am from Vayots dzor region, which lies in south-east of the country, but I live and work in Yerevan, now. I am 22 and I’ve started working as a project assistant in Women's Rights Center. I’m also a student of business management in the Armenian State University of Economics. Before working in WRC I was a volunteer in different NGO-s in the field of tourism development.
In WRC I am working in the project which introduces safe abortion method in Armenia for the first and second trimester. Now I am a member of Astra Youth because it has a great role in raising women’s awareness about their sexual and reproductive rights. I am not indifferent to domestic violence, too. I am sure such organizations have great role in life-saving, life-changing services.
Shant Abou Cham: I’m 27 years old, Armenian-Lebanese born in Beirut. I have a Master’s degree in International law and human rights.
I have worked in the field of human rights since 2012, but I have found the theme of Sexual and reproductive health rights the most exciting. I was part of the National Inquiry of the enjoyment of SRHR in Armenia as a consultant, and my focus was abortion rights and sex-selective abortions. The aim of the Inquiry was to insure that SRHR services are available, accessible, acceptable and of the highest quality possible for women, especially in the rural areas.
I have continued my work in the field of women’s human rights and gender equality. I am currently working as a project coordinator with Society Without Violence NGO in Armenia. My aim is to make proper use of human rights to ensure social and economic justice and equity. Besides SRHR, my interests include the subjects of human trafficking and poverty.
Marina Latifova: I’m 21 years old and I am a student of English Studies at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. I started to work in the Center “Women and Modern World” as a volunteer, later I became a staff member. I’m work on the position of director of the Department of Work with Youth. The purpose of our organization is to protect human rights and women's rights; liquidation of all forms of violence and discrimination against women, and so on. I participated in a number of trainings and discussions regarding SRHR. I’m especially involved in raising awareness on women’s rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS issues among young girls through trainings, campaigns and street actions.
Rada Elenkova: Specializes in fields of women and girls’ rights, particularly – sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR), protection against domestic violence and discrimination, and youth empowerment. Currently she enjoys coordinating the Gender Alternatives Foundation where together with a whole team of lawyers and psychologists, prevents and protects women and girls from violence and discrimination by provision of free of charge legal and psychological consultations. She also conveys trainings with young people using the methods of non-formal education on the topics of SRHR, violence and discrimination. Inspired by her work with young people, Rada is also volunteering in You Act – a European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. As a member she has been involved in various advocacy initiatives and public campaigns on national and international levels that aim at promoting SHRH of young people. She also participates in youth trainings and research on the issues of SHRH. Rada is also an author of numerous articles on women and girls’ human rights and a coauthor of two manuals for young people aged 14-25 on the topics of protection against violence and discrimination and the promotion of the social rights of young people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Rada has a BA degree in English and American Studies in Sofia University, Bulgaria. Her MA is in Gender and Women’s History – MATILDA program with specialization in Nottingham University, UK. By graduating this university program, she reaffirms her plans to expand her knowledge and experience in the promotion and realization of women and girls’ rights locally and globally.
Marinella Matejcic: My name is Marinella, and I'm a 28-year-old feminist activist from Croatia. I work as a freelance journalist/writer, am voluntarily coordinating a project on sexual and reproductive health, with an accent on abortion accessibility and contraception and am serving as an FRIDA advisor. I started volunteering with various organizations in my early twenties - from parent's associations, over green NGOs to independent cultural activists and continued with that practice. Now I'm settled as an associate of CESI - Center for education, counseling and research. My feminist interests are broad, but main point of interest and work are sexual and reproductive health and rights. I was honored to give my inputs in the Croatia’s Shadow report for the UN’ CEDAW Committee and to lobby with the Committee to consider my organization’s recommendations. I'm writing for a Croatian portal on gender, sex and democracy called Libela.org, cover CEE stories for globalvoices.org and even started blogging this year, so I'm part of the third cohort of Stopstreetharassment.org bloggers. My favorite pastime is reading and discussing the essence of life with my eight-year-old daughter. I believe in intersectionality, humanity, and good will.
Mary Jobava: I am Mary, 22, from Tbilisi, Georgia. I have graduated Tbilisi State University, Faculty of law. I have joined HERA XXI since February 2014 as a volunteer and later I have become focal Point on Sexual & Reproductive Rights. I had opportunity to participate numerous projects and trainings which has held by this organization. One of the things which I value the most in this organization is the possibility to be involved in many different activities connected with Reproductive Health & Rights, Sexual education and prevention of STIs.
Youth is the basic stone for the construction of each community, so their health and rights must be protected and supported. Young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies. They can be “key agents for development and peace”. But sometimes, there are cases when young people aren't able to protect their rights and they need more support and friendly services Protection of human rights is my profession. I am strongly involved in the advocacy actions and interested in raising awareness on women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Magda Djneladze: I'm Magda Djneladze (28) from Georgia. I have been working at Union Women Center from 2013 as a peer educator and been involved in distribution of informational materials and brochures and engaged in students’ group discussions .In 2015 I took part in implementation of a research project “Improved Access to Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Counseling Services”. I also attended a summer camp in Torino (Italy), where I presented the work of Union Women Center on SRHR and safe abortion among youth. I am a member of Astra Youth because it has a great role in raising teenagers’ and youth awareness about their sexual and reproductive rights and involving them in activities.
Medea Khmelidze: I am Medea Khmelidze , 28, from Tbilisi. I have been in the field of SRHR since 2007. Basic interest of mine is HIV AIDS and the rights of marginalized youth. Through the support of ASTRA network and ASTRA Youth I have gained experience regarding UN working systems and high level advocacy and try on daily base to push much of SRHR mainstreamed agenda, mainly comprehensive sexuality education and access to youth friendly SRHR services at local level.
Now I work as Advocacy Officer and Community Mobilizer at Georgian Harm Reduction Network combining 26 NGOs in Georgia working with drug users but in ASTRA youth I represent Georgian Union of PLHIV-Real People Real Vision which I still support as advocacy advisor. I do believe in community strengthening and that, actions taken jointly step by step do make a change.
Shakhnoza Khassanova: I am 29 years old. In 2007 I graduated from the Modern Humanitarian Academy with a degree in Psychological Counseling. I was first involved with the work of „Sana Sezim” as a volunteer, and then I joined the staff in August 2006 and started working as a Psychologist and Programs Coordinator of the Volunteer Club. I participated in weekly meetings and activities, wrote and edited the Volunteer Club Newspaper, and conducted peer-to-peer trainings at schools and universities on SRHR topics, youth leadership, volunteerism, human trafficking and gender equality. As a psychologist at the NGO “Sana Sezim” I provide free and confidential consultations to clients who seek help regarding domestic violence, human trafficking, child abuse, and other issues relevant to the South Kazakhstan Region. Since August 2008 I have been the Vice President of this organization and I participate in public activities of the city, various workshops, and coordinate all programs. It is my goal within my three positions to promote the development of the skills of our clients, participants, partners, and volunteers with practical activities.
I am the member of the ASTRA Youth network to get acquainted with new young inspiring activists, learn new things from them, establish partnership and cooperation and implement joint initiatives focused on SRHR issues.
Julita Valančauskytė: I am 23 years old and I am a student of Medicine at the Medicine Faculty of Vilnius University. For a past year l was intrested in Obstetrics and Gynaecology when l realised that reproductive health and rights, especially womens’, still is a problem and has to be reconsidered. Because of that l decided to join The Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania, where l am volunteer since September 2014. I am quite new in the field of SRHR but l had opportunities to be involved in various advocacy activities, l had also given lectures of sexual education for school pupils for the past year.
I am also a member of Lithuania Medical Student Association (LiMSA) where l was involved in projects related with sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, womens' diseases. I truly believe that we have to fight for an equal, healthy society without discrimination.
Despina Dimitrova: My name is Despina and I am a 23-year old activist from Macedonia. Currently, I am enrolled in my last year of studies at the Faculty of Dentistry in Skopje.
In 2011 I have involved myself actively with H.E.R.A trough the project “My choice, my decision” in which I’ve worked on a theatre based education. Later on, I joined the peer education program at H.E.R.A. and began as a peer educator for HIV / AIDS. Since then, I am actively involved in the work of the youth group of H.E.R.A where I plan and implement activities related to youth and their sexual and reproductive health and rights. My field of interest are human rights, advocacy and lobbing for sexual rights for the young people in Macedonia.
In 2013 I have represented the youth as a speaker on a youth conference for “The access to modern contraception for the young people in Macedonia”. The very next year, 2014, I took the place as a youth speaker once again and represented youth on the same conference. In the last two years I am voluntarily coordinating the advocacy and lobbing sector and my second term as a Board member of H.E.R.A is already underway.
Timotin Iulian: My name is Iulian and I am 22. I live in the capital of Republic of Moldova, Chișinău. I am a student at the Free International University of Moldova, Faculty of Law.
I am active in SRHR since February 2012. I was involved as a volunteer, participant, member of the Debate Club in sexual reproductive health and rights of young people in Moldova, such as information and education campaign for others in HIV / AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections; International project "Joining forces and resounding clarity"etc. Since May 2014 I’m a member of the SPFM Administrative Council (Board).
Joanna Skonieczna: I’m Joanna from Poland. I graduated in Public Health with master’s thesis: “Comparison of assessment and perception of sexual education by high school students and their parents”. I continue studies at postgraduate level at the Medical University of Warsaw (Faculty of Health Sciences). I’m a tutor of The Students' Scientific Public Health Association, Health Promotion Section, and I’m responsible for Health Promotion course for nursing students at the university.
I’m interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights and sexuality education. In my opinion adolescents have the right to comprehensive, evidence-based health and sexuality education in school at all levels. Therefore in 2012 I’ve joined Ponton Group of Sex Educators. My voluntary work as sexual educator covers conducting sexuality education workshops for adolescents, coordination of street actions and research projects about sexuality education in Poland. I lead workshops for adolescents and young adults with great pleasure. In order to increase my competence I’ve started “Intra” School of Psychological Training and Workshop in 2016. I’d love to act for individual and public health, including sexual health. My dream is a society where health is treating as a resource, people are good health educated and improving their health.
Gabriel Brumariu: I am 26 years old and I’m from Bucharest Romania. I have started to volunteer in the SRHR domain at the Society for Contraceptive and Sexuality Education and now I work at the same organization as the Volunteer Coordinator and Teenager Activities.
I strongly believe that SRHR are part of the Human Rights and therefore they should be accessible, qualitative and free of discrimination of any type (as any other domain for a fact). Access to young people is not the only goal, reaching most of the adult population is a need because the lack of information about SRHR is one of the motives people reject it (unfortunately not the only one).
Therefore I militate for comprehensive sexual education in schools, for an anti-discrimination policy that should cover every part of the formal and informal structures in the society, for gender equality and anti-poverty measures.
There are many to tell here and many domains to work on but for a short engagement, this is who I am!
Yuliia Danyltsova: In 2014 I have graduated from National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy BA on Sociology and CP on Psychology. I’m currently doing my MA on Project Management.
Since 2011 I am actively involved in the implementation of the project “Improve Access to Information and Knowledge on Sexuality and Reproductive Health for Young People in Ukraine” supported by IPPF. As a volunteer I am one of the peer-educators, actively working in Kiev region, and, in addition, I am involved in other NGO activities, focused but not limited by planning, development and evaluation of the projects on reproductive health and rights issues of adolescents and young people. Since 2013 I am YSAFE member.
I am passionate about strengthening the system of access to Information and knowledge on SRHR as well as advocating for SRHR. Being an Astra Youth member will help me in reinforcement of my skills, enrichment of my knowledge, networking and best-practices sharing.
Tetiana Slobodian: I graduated from the National University of KMA with MA in Sociology. I started to work as a volunteer at the “Women Health & Family Planning” when I was a student and later I have become a staff member. The mission of our NGO is preservation, promotion and protection of Ukrainian citizens’ reproductive health and rights. One of the target groups we work with is youth. We develop and distribute information materials for youth, support the website on youth SRHR issues, and closely collaborate with media by covering information on SRHR. We also conduct research on SRHR issues state in the country and organize advocacy activities on the local and national level. I am currently involved in several projects regarding youth SRHR. One of our main goals is the development and implementation of sexuality education standards inUkraine. Having the resources and possibilities to protect reproductive health rights – which are one of the basic human rights – can help Ukrainian adolescents become happier human beings. I am happy that I have the opportunity to take part in the implementation of such a relevant and interesting project that will help to accomplish a significant goal in improving awareness about reproductive health issues among the youth.
Lusine Kosakyan: I am Lusine from Armenia and I am 20 years old. I study Oriental studies in the Yerevan State University, but it’s already a year that I work in the field of women’s rights and it is very inspiring. I have started my journey as a volunteer in “Society Without Violence” NGO, and now I’m a stuff member. Currently I am working on young women and girls empowerment and gender based violence prevention in Armenia, but I’m very interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights promotion in Armenia as well.Moreover, I am a member of the “Women in Black in Armenia” initiative aimed to signification of women role in peace building and conflicts resolution. In the framework of this initiative we created the first public dialogues platform for young Armenian women activists.
Aysel Asgerova: I'm Aysel Asgarova from Baku, Azerbaijan. My experience in sexual and reproductive health and rights started off in 2006 with my participation in UNFPA - EU “Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in South Caucasus” (RHIYC) – a 3-year project aimed to make sustainable improvements in the reproductive health and rights of youth. The project purpose was to empower youth to become aware of and realize their right to quality reproductive health and ensure their access to comprehensive youth friendly reproductive health services and products in order to reduce unwanted pregnancies, the spread of STIs including HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. As a direct consequence of the RHIYC advocacy campaign and bringing together key stakeholders, experts and leading decision-makers, a new national reproductive health strategy was drafted and further adopted by the local Ministry of Health in January 2008. The main advantage of the new document covering the period of 2008–2015 is that for the first time in Azerbaijan this national priority document regarded SRH of adolescents and youth as a separate dimension with clear targets and tasks.
Afterwards in September 2008 I was selected to run Y-PEER Advanced ToT in Moldova and became Y-PEER Focal Point. Since then I’m actively involved in all Y-PEER activities. In recognition of my efforts in 2010 I was selected as a Focal Point in Charge in Azerbaijan. In 2010 I was selected as a Youth Journalist and represented Y-PEER at International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria where I brought youth issues to the forefront of the conference agenda and offered a youth perspective on the important conference events through writing, photography and video. In 2011 as a member of ASTRA-Youth I participated in preparation of report “Reproductive Health and Rights of Adolescents in CEE and Balkan countries” and was selected to present it during the side event of the meeting of UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, USA.
Today I’m an active promoter of a non-formal, peer-to-peer education and advocate for reproductive health and rights in my country. Behind me are numerous community development projects and activities, including in support of disadvantaged youth, such as theatre-based reproductive health and rights trainings, the best social vidoe competition and National Model UN for local students.
Luciana Grosu: My name is Brindusa Luciana Grosu and I live in Bucharest. I am a psychologist and journalist passionate about women rights. I have an MA degree in International Relations and I am fluent in English, French and Spanish. I am currently an active member of the YouAct SRHR European network. Over the years, I have engaged in volunteering with several national and international nonprofit organizations , developing my skills in the fields of Reporting, Psychological Counseling, Training and Intercultural Dialogue. I am an innovator at heart with many ideas for combating violence against women and girls. I am a strong supporter of gender equality and would tolerate no compromise concerning women rights’ to decide in all aspects concerning S&RH issues. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot of work to do and this is the reason why I am here, hoping to be able to encourage girls and women to never to give up their rights to freedom, health and well-being.