Life skills training and youth empowerment

To deliver effective messages about the danger of HIV and AIDS to the young people most at risk in Pakistan’s overcrowded inner cities means more than delivering treatment and prevention services. Young boys from poor families are among those most vulnerable to sexual exploitation in the turmoil of city life. These boys lack education, even an understanding of the basics of health and sexuality. They also lack economic power since many of them are employed for long hours in the workshops and factories of unregulated commercial areas. Girls in domestic employment face the same risk of abuse by unscrupulous adults.

For this reason, AMAL Human Development Network projects embed messages about the risk of HIV and AIDS in the life skills training programmes it offers these youngsters. Identifying a range of linked objectives, the life skills approach is designed to develop interpersonal skills such as the ability to communicate, negotiate, take decisions and think critically. The aim is to build self-awareness and the capacity to deal with emotional stress. Life skills enable individuals to translate knowledge, attitudes and values into action, thus helping to make them socially and psychologically competent.

Life skills empower young people by educating them in human rights, training them in self defence and the ability to defend their point of view, and teaching them vocational skills. Skill building in this wider context enables them to understand the life-threatening nature of HIV and AIDS and take action.