Eight DSW Youth Champions will be using their voices this year to make sure the EU’s external action effectively responds to young people’s needs, particularly in the field of global health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Youth Champions are from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania and are an integral part of DSW programmes in their countries and communities; empowering young people and promoting their rights.

We first heard from Jessy and Dorothy from Uganda, then Burnice and Kevin from Kenya, and now it’s the turn of Aynalem and Elsabet from Ethiopia. Let’s hear from them why they decided to become youth champions, and what change they’re wanting to create to address the challenges faced by youth in their community. 

Elsabet Adissu is a 19-year-old youth champion from Dangila County in Ethiopia. 

Elsabet takes part in many different advocacy activities in her community, activating her peers to take action on issues relating to their sexual and reproductive health.

Aynalem Gashawbeza is a 22-year-old youth champion from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. 

Passionate about the impact information can have in tackling some of the challenges young people are facing, Aynalem takes an active role in increasing young people’s awareness and understanding of issues of sexual and reproductive health, 

More about them and the work that they do in this video: 

What challenges are young people in Ethiopia facing?

Elsabet says, “The major challenges faced by young people especially in my community is harmful and traditional practices and beliefs, that lead to challenges such as teenage pregnancy, unsafe and illegal abortion, early school dropouts, and gender-based violence.” 

What are you doing to tackle these challenges? 

“I have set up a training forum and platform where I train youth about sexual and reproductive health and I also use this platform to empower youth to increase their knowledge of related issues, such as gender-based violence and early marriage. 

I have also participated in activities providing family planning services to help young people make informed choices about their own health”, added Aynalem. 

Elsabet added, “I participate in lots of different advocacy activities, including creating awareness among young people in my community on issues of sexual and reproductive health via campaigns, educational theater performances, and documentary screenings. 

I also implement a project to reduce early school dropouts because of menstruation, which teaches girls how to make reusable sanitary pads.” 

What role for the European Union?

Aynalem and Elsabet recently met with EU decision-makers and shared their recommendations as to how the EU can support young people in Africa to tackle the challenges they’re facing. They highlighted the need for economic and technical assistance to improve young people’s access to comprehensive reproductive health information and services and also family planning services, to empower and encourage youth to lead healthy lives. 

You can find out more about all eight youth champions here


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