Mr and Miss Y+ crowned in Beauty Pageant for young people living with HIV
October 25, 2017
On September 23, 2017, Nyanzi and Gloria (21) from Uganda were crowned Mr and Miss Y+ during a beauty contest for young people living with HIV. The contest doesn’t focus on looks, but on being a role model for other young people with HIV, on being able to advocate for the needs of young people, and to increase acceptance and understanding of young people living with HIV in society.
I have the right to understand my sexual rights
"How I liked the contest? When I came here, I wasn't very confident. But due to the trainings, I can walk, I can talk, I can express myself. Yeah, and I am really confident about myself," Miss Y+ Gloria tells. "I learned new skills such as baking cakes that I can use to earn an income. And I had a lot of fun, too!"
"Sexual health and rights is an important thing above al. As a young person, I have the right in the first place, to understand what it means. Our elders refuse us to understand. A very, very big mistake. For example, they don't want us to know about family planning and about having sex, and yet these are things we do in reality," adds Nyanzi.
I want young people to believe in themselves
Gloria continues: "What I want to do with my skills after the beauty pageant? I want to sensitize young people, especially those who are living with HIV, to believe in themselves, that they can achieve so much more than what other people believe."
I want to put young people's views at the national level
"I am now able to speak out my inner feelings to a large audience. I have been doing this but only on ground level and the beauty pageant gives you a platform to speak out globally just like I am doing right now. You have many young positives with different obstacles out there, but they can't even speak English. So as Mr Y+ I want to work with them, get their challenges, their views and put it at the national level. That's what I want," Nyanzi concludes.
It's for the 4th time that the Y+ Beauty Pageant took place. The Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) took the initiative in 2014 after a girl was rejected from attending a beauty contest due to her HIV status. The Y+ Beauty Pageant aims to reduce stigma young people with HIV are facing on daily basis.
Aidsfonds supports the Y+ Beauty Pageant via our Get Up Speak Out programme. With this programme we aim to boost young people's self-confidence, so they are able to defend their rights. We started the programme in October 2016 in collaboration with Rutgers. In addition, we offer better information and education about sexual health and HIV for young people, and we train health workers to be able to offer youth-friendly care. We don't only do this for young people, but above all with young people. Because young people themselves know best what they need.