A Rights-Based Approach for Enhancing SRHR in Ethiopia
This program, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, uses a rights-based approach to provide education and access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people in Ethiopia.
Addis Ababa is among the fastest-growing cities in the world, with a growth rate of 4.3%, according to the United Nations. As the population grows, there is an increased need to expand basic services and strengthen health systems. Currently, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) services are incomplete due to resource constraints, weak referral systems, and a lack of knowledge among healthcare providers and clients.
EngenderHealth’s A Rights-Based Approach for Enhancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) program is designed to ensure all people, particularly women and girls, can fulfill their SRHR. We are implementing this program in Addis Ababa, in close partnership with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and government partners, including the Bureau of Education, the Bureau of Health, and the Bureau of Women and Children Affairs.
Through this program and with our partners, we facilitate and support activities to create awareness and policy dialogues to ensure local policymakers and implementers are able and willing to support young people and others whose rights have been violated—particularly in instances of SGBV. Further, we are working to develop legal frameworks, trainings, and a systems approach that coordinates the response to SGBV across departments (including health, justice, education, and others). EngenderHealth is training educators, healthcare providers, and decision makers to expand knowledge of and access to SRHR services for young people, improve the agency of individuals to exercise their SRHR, and strengthen the enabling environment. Throughout program activities we integrate our Gender, Youth, and Social-Inclusion (GYSI) tools to aid in reflection and discussion and to challenge and change harmful gender, age, and other related norms that negatively impact adolescent and youth SRHR.
The program trains and supports healthcare providers, teachers, and law enforcement personnel on SRHR, SGBV, and GYSI. We created a hotline for survivors of SGBV. With the support of EngenderHealth and our partners, survivors of SGBV (ages 19 to 30) receive free legal aid service. In addition to this work, EngenderHealth quickly responded to the evolving reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. We collaborated with stakeholders to design and launch media campaigns with SRHR and SGBV messaging, continued to provide SRHR education to young people while schools were closed, and reinforced COVID-19 prevention measures. The program purchased and distributed personal protective equipment to healthcare providers actively working on SRH services, dispensed menstrual pads in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation centers, and provided technical support to program stakeholders to ensure SRHR and prevention of SGBV for young people remain a priority throughout the crisis.