The 2nd National YPeer Meet has been underway in Phuntsholing since yesterday with 133 youth from 11 YPeer Networks in Bhutan. The program has been initiated last year by Youth Center Division of the Dept. of Youth and Sports, MoE in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences among the existing Y-Peer Networks in Bhutan and to build their capacity to deliver quality advocacy programs on issues relating to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). The networks in attendance are from Paro College of Education, Norbu Rigter College, College of Science and Technology, College of Natural Resources, Gaedu College of Business Studies, Sherubtse College, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, College of Language and Cultural Studies, Royal Thimphu College, Faculty of Nursing and Public Health and Phuntsholing Youth Center.
YPeer Bhutan was set up in 2012 after a few youth attended the advanced Training of Trainers at Bangkok, Thailand. The first network was established in Sherubtse college with 11 members. It gradually expanded into other tertiary institutions and today, there are over 26 networks based in Youth Centers and various tertiary institutions including the Technical Institutes. YPeer Bhutan is part of the global network mandated to advocate on sexual and reproductive health rights and promote healthy lifestyles in the communities through peer education. All the YPeer members are therefore peer educators who reach out to the wider society through their peers and educate the general public on how to lead a meaningful and healthy life. So the National YPeer Meet is organized in Bhutan to create an ideal platform for the networks to come together, share their good practices and learn from each other’s experiences.
On the 1st day, the 11 networks presented their key achievements and challenges faced by them over the course of time. It was impressive to learn that most of the networks were able to conduct numerous advocacy programs in their respective institutes and colleges on SRHR issues and have managed to expand the scope of the network within their peers. Some of the key challenges presented by the networks were the lack of support from the management of their institutes and colleges at the beginning, time constraints due to academic pressure, lack of commitment from some members and the general misconception about YPeer as the promoter of sex. The members discussed and explored ways to address those challenges. They recommended that some of those challenges could be addressed if they could work closely with the management of their institutions, initiate more advocacy programs on YPeer and knowing how to set priorities in life.
Today, the networks discussed gender discrimination, sexual violence and other forms of abuse faced by women and vulnerable young people in the society. They also had group discussions on how they can be part of the global change as peer-helpers/educators to address SRHR issues and bring positive changes in the society.
On the final day, the YPeer Networks will develop their Annual Work Plan for 2018 and explore how they could implement them. At the end of the day, each of 11 networks will have a realistic action plan to put to practice what they have learned and discussed during the 3-day Meet. The entire program is supported by UNFPA Bhutan Program and Asia Pacific Center in Bangkok, Thailand.