Love does not hurt

In Ethiopia the NGO Wabe Children’s Aid and Training (WCAT), one of Her Choice’s 27 partners in the field, trains teachers of the Mekuabia school to give education on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), to both girls and boys. Agegnehu Acheye (13) is one of them and tells us about her experiences.

13-year old Agegnehu Acheye is the leader of a Girls Club at the Mekuabia school in South Gondar, Ethiopia. As a Girls Club they have a relax room, which was created at the initiative of Her Choice. Agegnehu shows us a nice mattress, a jerry can with water and soap so that the girls can wash themselves and a drain for the sewage. On the door there is a sign with ‘open’ or ‘closed’, so that the girls can wash and rest during their menstruation.

Pink pills

While several religious leaders and other communitity members are standing in the room and listen to her, Agegnehu explains us how the birth control pills work: ‘You take the pink pills when you menstruate.’

On the wall behind her Agegnehu and her classmates made drawings of several contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills and contraceptive injections. The education on SRHR consists of 14 lessons about contraception, marriage, friendship and love. Agegnehu learned something very important in these lessons, she says: ‘Love does not hurt.’

Empowerment

WCAT is an Ethiopian charity established in 1993 and a partner of Her Choice alliance member Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland. The organisation’s vision is to transform the lives of marginalised children by empowering them to become productive and responsible citizens who are free from poverty and disease.

More informed decisions

Because of the education on SRHR, overall we see that in in all Her Choice working areas girls make more informed decisions. Girls and boys have better knowledge about SRHR; knowledge about this subject almost doubled. They also have more knowledge about adverse effects of early marriage and child marriage law and policies. They are able to make more informed decisions with respect for example to contraception and marriage.

As a result we see an increase in contraceptive use in most countries: approximately half to three-quarters of young women who reported being sexually active used a contraceptive method – mainly condoms – leading to a reduction in the rates of unplanned pregnancy among adolescents.