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Ethiopia: Improving communication and equality in South Wollo

HIV and AIDS is one of the key challenges facing Ethiopia. In ten communities in south Wollo, we’ve trained volunteers in ‘Stepping Stones’, an effective way of working with other young people, especially young women, so that they can take more control over their relationships and challenge deep-rooted fears and attitudes about HIV and AIDS.

We’ve also been providing sexual health services for adolescents through school clubs and ‘adolescent friendly’ health centers as the result we have seen an increase in voluntary counseling and testing and other HIV services across the districts.

The ‘Stepping Stones’ programme is an HIV and AIDS training package aimed at improving communications skills within relationships to reduce transmission rates and advocate for gender equality. The program holds training and advice sessions with separate peer groups of married and un-married volunteers. It targets the most marginalized, rural communities — especially women and adolescents — to encourage safer, fairer sexual behavior.

After completing 24 sessions of the ‘Stepping Stones’ workshop, 850 community members were awarded with a certificate of participation and graduated in the presence of other community members and invited guests, including government officials. Ato Mulu Demise, a 35 year-old man from Sembo village discussed how the workshops have affected him:

“I only regret this training has not come to our community before. Now I have been able to openly discus with my wife about our day to day life and other issues, I have been able also to recognize her workload and I am assisting here in fetching water and other work in the house, which in the past I considered to be her role.”

Find out more about our work to get people talking about HIV.

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