The Health Policy Project has ended, but work continues under a new USAID five-year project, Health Policy Plus (HP+).
NEWS & VIEWS
Women’s group leaders meet with parliamentarians and urge increased funding for family planning and reproductive health services for Ethiopian youth
Posted March 21, 2013
Wubit Hailu (top, right) is the managing director of Kulich, an organization that targets young people who work for companies that grow flowers for export with reproductive health education programs.
Photo by Kulich
Kulich is a small nongovernmental organization (NGO) that educates young people about reproductive health and HIV in four regions of Ethiopia. In a country with relatively high maternal mortality and HIV prevalence, providing access to high-quality contraceptives and family planning services is important to the health of Ethiopia’s predominantly young rural population.
Many of Kulich’s outreach programs target young people who work in the flower export industry, often for less than $1 a day. So the NGO has developed a strong network of alliances with many companies to offer reproductive health programs in the workplace. But the national budget for family planning services and commodities is insufficient to meet demand.
Wubit Hailu, Kulich’s managing director, understands the need to work with policymakers at the national level to increase funding for services and contraceptives. In February 2012, Wubit participated in a three-week workshop organized by the Health Policy Project (HPP) to enhance the capacity of women leaders to advocate for the health of young adults, specifically for family planning and reproductive health. During the workshop, Wubit and 23 other women honed their skills in personal leadership and strategic communication to improve their ability to effectively raise awareness around reproductive health and family planning services.
The workshop allowed Wubit to meet several participating staff members from Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health, with whom she shared information about Kulich’s education initiatives. The ministry officials then invited Wubit to join a small group of representatives from Ethiopian reproductive health organizations to meet with parliamentarians in the summer of 2012. The parliamentarians had previously conducted a study tour in four regions to better understand reproductive health issues and better understand the challenges their constituencies face in accessing contraceptives.
At the meeting, Wubit explained the work Kulich undertakes with youth, underscoring the need to bridge funding gaps and commit the resources required to provide reproductive health services. The Members of Parliament (MPs) were receptive and expressed their interest in seeking civil society partners to help expand access to family planning and reproductive health. Following the initial meetings with parliamentarians, the group made contact with other national-level decision-makers.
“For my organization, it’s good to connect with different ministries and MPs,” she says. “I’m working with a large group of youth, and it will be more fruitful if I work with influential people.”
Wubit says the HPP training has helped her organization become more effective at explaining the challenges facing young people in the flower industry to those with the power to make a difference. She anticipates that these new skills as well as ongoing assistance from HPP will help her and Kulich help young Ethiopians obtain the services and contraceptives they need to stay healthy.
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