Youth Partner Network Spotlight Features Spotlight Feature: Venoranda Rebecca Kuboka Name: Venoranda Rebecca Kuboka. Age: 32 years. Country and Location: Kenya-Limuru. Area of interest in International Development: Advocacy, gender, youth development, sexual reproductive health, social inclusion and mental health. Twitter Handle/Social Media accounts: Facebook: Venoranda .R. Kuboka Twitter: @vkuboka Website: www.youthchangerskenya.blogspot.com Organisation/affiliations: Youth Changers Kenya- Team Leader Background – Tell us a little about yourself? I am from Kenya, a child and youth therapist with eight years of experience in the area of sexual reproductive health, human rights, mental health and advocacy. I am the founder of Youth Changers Kenya: a community-based organisation that seeks to promote sexual reproductive health. I am the second born in a family of four and the only girl. I am part of the Obama Africa Leaders Program and an Alumni’s of YALI Regional program. I am persistent, a risk taker, a great leader and am motivated by the fact that my words and actions can change lives. Tell us about your area of work? I am passionate about promoting sexual reproductive health; I participate in policy review & formulation processes, offer training to young people on sexual health, social entrepreneurship, unpaid care work, advocacy, social inclusion and leadership. I provide mentorship and coaching session to girls, women and youths. Additionally, I offer psyco-social support to FGM survivors, PLWD, PLWH and Sexual violence survivors. Since I am a trained child therapist, I offer psychotherapy sessions to children and youth. What issues do you consider to be the most prevalent to women and young people in your country? Unsafe abortion is an issue affecting many young women, New HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, sexual violence (defilement and rape), teen pregnancy and early marriage. Drugs & substance abuse and organised crimes (gangs) are also rampant among boys. What programmes are currently operational in your country and do you think they are working? If yes why, if no why? And what could be done better? There are so many sexual health, gender-based violence, safe abortion and sex education programs. Safe abortion & sex education programs are experiencing massive backlash from religious leaders and parents. It would be great to explore tactics like have out of school outreach sex education programs for school going children and hold the government accountable based on existing laws and policies to ensure that women do not die due to complications related to unsafe abortions. What do you think is the biggest obstacle that needs to be overcome in the field of International Development? Donor dependency- Many organisations depend on donors to run and sustain their programs. Organisations should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income by creating products and services that will constantly attract revenue streams which will make projects sustainable. What do you think are some solutions to these problems? Knowledge enlightens people thus creating more awareness is imperative, repeal laws and policies that restrict women to access safe abortion services, allow young people to access sexual health information and services without barriers (parental consent). Address sexual violence from a systemic perspective dismantle patriarchy and engage men in the conversation so as to promote positive masculinity (forums, trainings and sharing advocacy messages). Challenge cultural practices that continue to oppress women and propagate the cycle of violence. What makes this sector so special for you? I love challenging status quo. I want to change the negative narrative about sex and promote open conversations about sex and sexuality. Promote an inclusive world where everyone is respected regardless, disrupt power structures especially where there are imbalances. Protect children, women and young people from being violated. I want to ensure that human rights are upheld and promoted. What future progress in International Development – regionally, across the continent, or even for your own personal future – excites you the most about this sector? I will be a brand ambassador recognised globally advocating for sexual & mental health. With massive advocacy efforts laws and policies will allow women to access sexual reproductive health information and services especially safe abortion.