STORIES OF CHANGE

a vibrant youth advocate

In this series, we have set out to share some stories about CHOICE’s impact: the stories of young people we are able to change together with our partners.

This story is about Yoadan from Ethiopia, and how she became a vibrant youth advocate. 

The previous
situation

Yoadan (28) is born and raised in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. She has a background in Law and Peace and Security studies. She was never a very passive individual, but her knowledge and readiness to engage in the community was quite minimal. She also lacked a lot of information about young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Yoadan: “while growing up, both in households as in schools, the level of awareness with regards to sexual and reproductive health was either very low or it didn’t exist. Schools give very little coverage in courses in educating their students as to the do’s and don’ts whilst families as well consider these topics taboo. This led to an alarming number of teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the young people in the community.”

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THE
INTERVENTION

Yoadan became a member of ECHO (Ethiopian Youth Council for Higher Opportunities), which is the Advisory group of the Ethiopian organization Talent Youth Association (TaYA), a few years ago. She says: “the time I joined ECHO and started my journey was very crucial. I was just out of the University, feeling confused and helpless as to the reality I witnessed. I have seen the horror students at the university go through just because they lacked the necessary information.” But through ECHO, Yoadan soon had the opportunity to participate in trainings and discussions about sexual and reproductive health and rights and programs of intervention.

During the course of her membership of ECHO, Yoadan started showing a commitment to secure honest sexual health information and push for affordable and confidential sexual health services for all young people. She adds: “through the different opportunities I got and specially dialogues held with community leaders, I have been taught ways to address community problems by taking action in order to improve individuals’ access to resources and transform community’s consciousness through their beliefs, values and attitude.”

“while growing up, both in households as in schools, the level of awareness with regards to sexual and reproductive health was either very low or it didn’t exist.”

– YOADAN

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THE CURRENT
SITUATION

Today, Yoadan is a vibrant youth advocate, both at the national and international level. She is now experiencing more satisfaction in life, social benefits because of the high level of her engagement in the community and an increased social responsibility. She also enhanced her knowledge, has a lot of new experiences and developed new skills relevant to her advocacy work.

Yoadan represents young people in different international platforms and voices youth concerns in development issues. Since her first interaction with TaYA and ECHO, Yoadan has taken part in a number of organizational and high level meetings, workshops, trainings and advocacy work, leading to her dedication to serve the community while focusing on sexual and reproductive health issues. She also advocates for young people to take their health and rights into their own hands, organizes activism efforts, lobbies policy makers, educates her peers, and takes leadership roles in different organizations, clubs and associations.

ABOUT TaYA

The Talent Youth Association (TaYA) is an indigenous, non-governmental organization that is built upon the premise that youth are the promise of the successful development of Ethiopia. In order to be productive, influential leaders of the future, young women and men need the knowledge and opportunities to be healthy and self-reliant. TaYA provides youth these opportunities to enable themselves and work towards an Ethiopia of promise, gender equality, economic and environmental strength. TaYA promotes the health and well-being of Ethiopia’s youth by eliminating barriers to development and by enabling youth to realize their full potential. TaYA focuses on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health issues, while supporting youth employment and leadership within the community. Their main strategies to improve young people’s SRHR are peer-to-peer education, awareness raising and involving young people in international networks, conferences and leadership. TaYA and CHOICE have been partners since 2013 and they are currently working together within the Get Up Speak Out program. 

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Further reading

Stories of change

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