In May I visited Bamako, Mali in West Africa where I keynoted the. I gave a presentation titled “What Can The HIV/AIDS Movement Lean From Green/Climate Movement About Online Activism?” This was my first trip to Africa and my first time working with UNAIDS. To say that I learned a lot and had my horizons expanded would be an understatement. While I was there to share and teach, I feel like I’m the one who came away having learned so much. I was so inspired by the youth activists I met on this trip that I’ve gone on to continue this work throughout the year.
When Iceland crowdsourced its new constitutionÂ to increase the transparency and legitimacy of government process, it inspired a group of people working at theÂ UNAIDS SecretariatÂ to explore a similar approach to its work with young people. Over the past several months I’ve been working closely with and a team of incredible engaged activists to help develop a digital crowdsourcing campaign focused on engaging youth and stopping HIV. In November we launched our first online experimentâ€¦ a site called CrowdOutAids.
CrowdOutAIDS takes the form of eight online discussion forums in six different languages, each targeted at engaging a different demographic around the world. The forums live on a constellation of popular social networking sites primarily Facebook, but also Chinese social network and popular Russian site Vkontakte.
We wanted to reach young people online where they’re already hanging out, says UNAIDS Social Media Officer Mikaela Hildebrand. But we’re not interested in just having a conversation for the sake of conversation,” she adds. “We’re not asking people to just like a Facebook group. We want to use these tools to do something radically different for this organization. … We want to take them through a virtual policy process.”