International Youth Day
Posted by Amy on Saturday 11th August 2018
Youth are the key to our future; and giving them safe spaces to live, learn and grow is essential. That’s why the annual International Youth Day is so important to us and this year’s focus on Safe Spaces for Youth is particularly close to our hearts.
With partners across Ethiopia, we are working to give youth the safe spaces they need; not just to live, learn and grow; not just for their best chance for a brighter future; but also so they can be part of a confident and resilient generation that can continue to shape and advance society for the better.
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150,000 children live on the streets of Ethiopia
60,000 of these live in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa
50% of homeless youth don’t have access to shelter, adequate food or education
Many find themselves lured into prostitution as a way to survive
71% of woman have experienced physical or sexual violence
Cultural taboos on puberty & menstruation means youth don’t have safe spaces to talk about this natural part of life
Ingrained traditions like female circumcision and child marriage don’t give youth opportunity to question or express their views
How are we providing #SafeSpaces4Youth?
SPACES FOR PHYSICAL SAFETY
REQUIREMENT: Youth must first feel physically protected, and be given the opportunity to live with dignity and in safety.
Through partnerships with various organisations in Ethiopia across our global offices, we help provide sanctuaries or safe houses for vulnerable youth who have been forced to live on the street and women who have experienced violence
These safe houses provide physical necessities such as shelter, food and medical aid and also protection from violence, abuse and the threat of prostitution
SPACES FOR MENTAL HEALTH & EDUCATION
REQUIREMENT: For youth to reach their full potential, they need to have safe spaces to disclose their thoughts, ask questions, discover new interests and learn.
Children living in these safe shelters are given the opportunity to enrol in their local school or to take introductory lessons at the shelter in reading, writing and simple maths if they have not yet had the chance to go to school
Pop-up street schools operate in different urban areas of northern Ethiopia. The mobile ‘school’ is set up in a public square, offers a free meal for children living on the streets and encourages them to take part in fun, interactive and educational activities – like learning their letters or numbers – to give homeless children a basic education
Almost all sanctuaries have counsellors at hand to help youth overcome trauma. Counsellors also help children from rural areas acclimatise to their new urban surroundings and teach them ‘street smart’ skills such as looking after their sexual health, managing puberty and finding sound work
Youth are given the opportunity to take part in a sport or hobby. Leisure activities is said to be an essential part of the psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people, plus helps them build their self-esteem and confidence
SAFE SPACES FOR INTER-GENERATIONAL DIALOGUE
REQUIREMENT: Youth need a space to fully express themselves without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome, firstly with family members and then with wider society.
Provide menstrual hygiene kits including re-usable sanitary pads and puberty information packs at schools. A simple but effective solution to give youth the resources they need to understand this natural part of life, plus help encourage conversation so that these topics are no longer seen as taboo or shameful
Actively create safe spaces for dialogue in rural communities through trained on the ground workers, such as Women Extension Workers and Safe Motherhood Ambassadors. These workers go out to isolated communities and speak one on one with individuals, families and community leaders about topics like the rights of girls and women and maternal health.
Not only do they start talk about these otherwise taboo subjects and share information but they also provide opportunity for youth and the rest of the community to ask questions or ask for help in a safe and supported environment