The Collective Voice of our Generation: AIDS 2012

As the 19th International Conference on AIDS continues two inspiring young women from the YWCA share their reflections:

Jenna Lodge from YWCA USA 

Jenna Lodge

For the last 2 days, the young women of the World Delegation have heard presentations from world-renowned speakers, top HIV/AIDS research analysts and victorious individuals thriving with HIV.  Their statements are profound and their testimonies were filled with courage and hope.  But what stands out the most was an impromptu conversation had by six young women taking a rest between sessions.  In our reflections of the different speakers, we all had a common desire to want the conversations and presentations to “go there.” it seemed as if the speaker’s words carried a hint of “fluff” instead of getting to the real, hard-pressed issues that we all longed to hear about.  In that moment of honesty amongst the six of us, we all vowed to take a stand throughout the week and ask questions that “go there.” The 25 million women and girls that we represent around the world demand more than a rosy façade of an issue that deserves real solutions for treatment, overall support for individuals that identify as positive, and prevention strategies for communities around the world.

As the delegation moves toward the opening of the 19th International AIDS conference, we must remember to address the concerns of young women and girls that we present around the world.  We must remember to create an atmosphere of acceptance over stigma and a keen sense of curiosity and learning over judgment.  We will stand in solidarity in sessions and workshops to make our collective voice be heard.  By the end of the conference, our goal is for all 21,000 participants to remember the confident young women leaders of the World YWCA that stood up and asked the hard questions and got real answers and solutions for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

Marcie Martinez from the YWCA of Belize

Being able to represent World YWCA and YWCA Belize at AIDS 2012 is a great privilege. Since the time I have reach Washington I have been overwhelmed with all that has been happening. The conference is an international conference that is hosting thousands of delegates from around the world. Therefore the opportunity to meet and network is great. On Friday the 20thof July we started to participate in sessions that highlighted the work that is being done all over the world in regards to HIV. I believe that many people are really doing great work in the fight against HIV. However, I do believe that we all are missing something in this fight because the numbers for new infections are still very high. There is still so much to be done, even in my country. Everyday having been in Washington, I am learning that HIV is affecting humanity everywhere but at the end of the day we are working in unity to tackle HIV.

Marcie Martinez

Also, meeting and being able to work with the other YWCA delegates has made being able to participate in AIDS 2012 much manageable. I am very impressed with the YWCA delegation because they are dynamic leaders who are very passionate about making change in their communities. I have been enjoying my days getting to know these amazing women. We have been participating in marches and attending sessions that are highlighting the issues that have been arising around HIV. We also had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Jen Schakowsky who represents the district of Illinois. She is an amazing woman who is passionate about women’s right. We were all excited about sitting with her and sharing what the different countries in the YWCA delegation are doing in the area of HIV.

Great things happening in Washington right now!

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