Amref Health Africa Partners with Youth Network for Sustainable Development and Hiwot Ethiopia to Empower Youth

by Amref Health Africa

‘Power to You(th)’ Project rolls out in Afar and Amhara region with financial support from the Netherlands Government.

Amref Health Africa partnering with Youth Network for Sustainable Development and Hiwot Ethiopia launched a youth targeted project that empowers young people to advocate for inclusive decision-making and gender equality. In alignment with Ethiopian government priorities, the project will ensure adolescent girls and young women from underserved communities are supported to strengthen their voice and agency in the public arena such that they can claim civic space and enable them to address sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and unintended pregnancy.

Speaking at the launch in Bahirdar, Amhara region, Dr. Meseret Zelalem, Maternal, and Child Health Directorate Director, Ethiopia Ministry of Health said, “Our young people are vulnerable to multiple challenges. Girls and young women face sexual and gender-based violence almost everywhere in our country. Child marriage, female genital mutilation, and teenage pregnancy are still a huge challenge. Empowering youth, providing youth-friendly services, creating favorable platforms for meaningful youth participation and engagement help address these challenges. We applaud the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for supporting this initiative of Amref Health Africa. We look forward to working with young communities and making sure the project achieves its aspirations.”

Sintayehu Abebe, Reproductive, Maternal, Child, Adolescent and Youth Health Program Manager, Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia, on his part stated, “The ‘Power to You(th)’ project is designed to address the needs of young people and help resolve their challenges in the targeted districts. We believe the project will highly contribute towards building young people’s future and Ethiopia to harness the demographic dividend.”

Despite progress made in the past couple of decades, gender inequality and associated challenges persist in several fronts of girls and young women’s lives in developing countries. Gender-based violence is reported as a common practice and sexual violence is high in many countries including Ethiopia. According to the Gender Equality Index Report (2017), 27 of the 30 countries in the world that exhibit inequitable gender indices are in Africa. Cultural beliefs and traditions promote men’s hierarchical role in sexual relationships, especially within a marriage. In Ethiopia, among women aged 15-49, 23% have experienced physical violence and 10% have experienced sexual violence; 34% of ever-married women age 15-49 have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence. Needless to say, unequal power relations and prevailing social norms underlie these human rights violations (EDHS 2016).

Working in close collaboration with the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, as well as regional offices, Amref Health Africa, Youth Network for Sustainable Development, and Hiwot Ethiopia will work towards empowering young communities to advocate for inclusive decision making and ensure gender equality. Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs the ‘Power to You(th)’ project is implemented in seven countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, and Uganda. In Ethiopia, with a total investment of nearly 4.5 million EUR (200 million ETB), the project will be implemented for five years in 14 districts of the Amhara and Afar regions.

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