Highlights from Dance4Life’s International Meeting 2017

Last month we hosted our annual International Meeting in Amsterdam. Partners from around the world gathered for five days of expert talks, discussions on the new Journey4Life model, what it means for us to transition to our social franchise structure – and last, but not least, Unplugged, an evening fuelled with the Dance4Life spirit of storytelling and celebration. 

With partners from across the globe flying to the Dutch capital, we kicked off a week-long programme of knowledge-sharing and capacity-building. Our partners all work with adolescents through their local Dance4Life empowerment programmes. We’re proud to be able to evolve alongside them in our mission to empower adolescents to make the right decisions related to their sexuality.

Unplugged – our special evening with storytelling and music – was hosted by two Trainers4Life, one from Nepal and one from the Netherlands. One of our Champions4Life (peer educator) from Kenya guided us through a session from the Journey4Life model with questions that encouraged us to examine our own life ambitions.  See pictures from Unplugged below and read highlights from our expert talks.

Almost every kid in Pakistan has experienced sexual violence. During Unplugged – a special evening of Dance4Life storytelling, we heard Nuzhat and Asifa (pictured) from Pakistan share their personal stories, which they also tell Dutch youngsters during Schools4Life, the Dutch schools program.
Unplugged guests gathered at Generator Hostel in Amsterdam





Nuzhat from Pakistan shared her personal story.
Nicolas Kanza, the Dutch singer-songwriter, performed at Unplugged.

























Evidence-gathering, monitoring, and supporting our partners was discussed in detail throughout the weeklong meeting. Our ambition to grow our partner network to 60 franchisees was also presented. In order to do this, we will be committing to helping international partners build their fundraising capacity, providing research on the effectiveness of our model, and conducting large research projects to raise our international profile and reputation. Our goal is to impact 5 million young people by 2030.

Doortje Braeken, the renowned industry veteran and member of our Advisory Board, MaqC Eric Gitau, CIFF’s Manager Adolescent SRH Investments, and Elise Griede – psychologist and consultant with War Child, all attended our International Meeting. They shared lessons for the future of CSE. Here are our highlights from their talks.

If you want to make changes to how you address HIV and sexual health and reproductive rights, look at your grassroots initiatives. Emancipation – integration – equity, are paramount.


Now… after the advent of HIV and AIDS, we’ve finally learnt what works and what doesn’t. We’ve learnt that if you address the correlations between power issues and gender, you are x5 more likely to affect knowledge and attitudes.


Adolescents develop their capacity for abstract thinking between the ages of 12 and 18, at a time when peer influences are at an all-time high. On the other hand, teenagers are not great at planning and thinking ahead – due to their still-development frontal cortex, which is why you need to work vigorously on self-efficacy and attitudes.

On opposition

With a single signature, Trump is ruining the lives of adolescent boys and girls. He is not the only shift in resources, other shifts are occurring among donors who are looking at alternative issues to invest in, and unfortunately, USAID, DFID and other organisation are no longer focussing on reproductive health … Opposition is fierce and it’s reigning in its co-conspirators. New funds will be raised to people who are only promoting abstinence.


We live in a world of innovation and development. Dance4Life tries to set a new example for creating the model of the future, it’s not only about me, but about us belonging to a social context with tolerance and gender equal attitudes.

A final note

One of the big pitfalls in SRHR approach is the lack in addressing context. What is context? Culture is context. We have international guidelines for how to use medications, why can’t we apply the same to sexuality? Dance4Life tries to create a new model, not only about me but about belonging to a social context and looking at gender and social tolerance.