Women and Health: Family Planning and Resilience

by Amref Health Africa

“Family planning and resilience”: the online event regarding RESET Plus: the project that, over the past three years, focused on improving sexual and reproductive health and family planning in Ethiopia. The country’s goal: to increase the use of modern contraception from 41.4% to 50% by 2025.

“Women and health: family planning and resilience”. This is the title of the appointment held on Wednesday, October 13th, on RESET Plus, a project supported by the European Union that, over the past three years, focused on improving sexual and reproductive health and family planning in Ethiopia.

Sexual and reproductive health is one of the main pillars of Amref’s intervention, and the RESET Plus project – RESilience in Ethiopia – derives from the understanding of the “close correlation that exists between family planning, good sexual and reproductive health, and community resilience”, explained Carmen Rodriguez, a gender and development specialist with 15 years of experience in the field of international cooperation.

The three-year project is now coming to an end. In fact, since 2018, an alliance made up of Amref Health Africa, CARE, Save the Children and We-Action, has been working on these issues in three Regions of Ethiopia: Amara, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region.

The event – moderated by Kenaw Gebreselassie of Amref Ethiopia – was attended by experts, representatives of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and Delegates of the European Union, alongside Bitania Lulu Berhanu, 26 years old Ethiopian and young African leader actively engaged in the processes of change and development of the continent. During the event, testimonies of progress, hope and freedom were shared, as well as a video documentary trailer, born from the collaboration of two directors: Elias Amare in Ethiopia and Dagmawi Yimer in Italy.

One of the protagonists of the trailer, in accordance with the assumption on which the RESET Plus project was built, claimed: “I have many children. I didn’t know it was recommended to wait between one birth and another. Luckily, I found out before it was too late. I can now make conscious choices that allow me to live better, both in health and economics terms”.

Dr. Birikty Lulu, Ethiopian National Family Planning Team Coordinator, explained that “to achieve the goal of maximizing the quality of family planning services, the country has set itself the goal of increasing the use of modern contraception in the country from 41.4% to 50% by 2025”.

Bitania Lulu Berhanu – whose commitment has earned her two important international awards, as Female Personality of the Year (2015) in the Africa Youth Awards and as one of the 100 Most Influential African Youths of 2016 – explained that the total population of Ethiopia is of about 115 million, of which 70% are young and live in rural areas. “Ensuring their well-being – which also includes sexual health – and thus their future, is vital for the entire country”, she said. Sexual health was in fact recognized in 2000 by the United Nations as a key component of global health and well-being. Unprotected sex is in fact the second leading cause of disease and death in developing countries, while in industrialized countries it ranks ninth.

Bitania is currently the President of the Youth Advisory Parliament of Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia and European Union’s Advisor for the rights of young people.

Roberta Rughetti, Program Manager of Amref Health Africa in Italy, said that the project was considered “successful and stimulating” by external evaluators. “We are not only celebrating the success of a fundamentally important project,” she added, “but the encouraging start of a new era, which will ensure the inclusion of effective key strategies – first of all, all-encompassing and inclusive participation, by age and by gender – in new programs”.

RESET Plus, in the last 3 years, reached 15,000 people with 8 awareness campaigns, produced and distributed 3,000 information materials during training activities and community events, trained 498 members of economic and agro-pastoral associations on family planning and sexual and reproductive health, supplied 33 health centers with medical supplies and contraceptives, and much more.

In addition, “regarding the school context”, added Workalem Haile, health worker, “following the reopening of the schools, the project supported 51 school clubs in the planning and implementation of awareness-raising activities and organized 43 family dialogue sessions”.

“Women are finally starting to exercise their right of inclusion in family decision-making and exerting their sexual freedom”, concluded Zemed Yimenu, Project Manager at CARE – Ethiopia.

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