The Cookie Jar is a Facebook group run by FHI 360’s Accelerating Progress in Communities (APC 2.0) project to support young women in Botswana in shifting social and gender norms. Members talk about issues like HIV risks, gaps in knowledge about infections and access to treatment. Typically, young women like me do not use HIV services despite risks of infection or violence in relationships. In Botswana, many young women engage in intergenerational and transactional sex. The Cookie Jar provides a place for young women to seek information, find out how to get care and receive peer support.
We have come a long way from the haunting, early days of the HIV pandemic when hopelessness characterized the situation for children living with HIV. Without treatment available, approximately half of those children were destined to die before their second birthday. The global public health community did not know if it could halt transmission of HIV from mother to child. There were no effective, child-friendly formulations of antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has been unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Conditions such as stay-at-home orders, wearing masks in public and the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression affect all of us in different ways.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, imagine you are a young person just out of jail, on parole or dropped out of high school. You are determined to get a new start on your life, and you are focused on getting the education and workforce skills you need to move from surviving to thriving. You already have a steep hill to climb. And then, the pandemic hits and everything becomes more complicated.
This post was originally published on the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog. It is reprinted with permission.
Youth unemployment — particularly in the developing world — is one of the most pressing and challenging issues facing the global community. Rates of youth unemployment are the highest across the Middle East and North Africa region, around 30 percent, and close to 17 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the micro and macro consequences loom: stunted economic growth, poverty, migration, crime and poor health, among many others.