Adolescent reproductive health in Ethiopia


The Ministry of Health of Ethiopia established a National Reproductive Health Strategy with the goal of meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of the youth who are socioeconomically and demographically disadvantaged. In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) broadened the definition of reproductive health to include the social and cultural aspect of reproductive health (RH) such as respect and protection of human rights and gender roles. This broader definition addresses the key socio-cultural issue related to reproductive health – the low status of women in Ethiopia. Sadly, gender inequality in Ethiopia disproportionately impacts young girls. 

Efforts from various organizations support the issue of RH. For example, collaborations between US and Ethiopia Universities conduct research, publish, and provide training on RH to female MPH students in Ethiopia. Other organization such as International Medical Corps incorporates RH along with HIV/AIDs, and adolescent youth programs into all of its programming. 

While these are all good efforts, in order for the National Reproductive Health Strategy to make a significant impact on adolescent RH, more focus and resources need to be directed towards addressing the issues of gender inequality. There is a need for more programs like the one from Pathfinder International who partners with local NGOs and IPOs in Ethiopia (with the support of USAID) to not only train women on RH but, empower them to strive for gender equality. I found the quote below is inspiring.   

 “Women have only been important for one thing: to bear and raise

children. We have not been considered productive and have not

stood equal to men. But, our community is very poor, and we cannot

develop without the involvement of women. Family planning is key to

that. Some women in our area have 12 or 13 children, and they do

not know any other way of life. As a Community- Based Reproductive 

Health Agent, I will be working for the next generation and their

daughters and their sisters, not just fighting poverty, but making

them equal to men.”

—A CBRHA trainee  in Assasa town, Gedeb Assassa Woreda, Ethiopia


One Response to “Adolescent reproductive health in Ethiopia”

  1. akorkidakis Says:

    This is a great post. You raise good points on how social and cultural norms need to be addressed in order for there to be true change in reproductive health. In fact, even health care workers appear to have significant biases in Ethiopia in regards to providing services to unmarried young women. (

    The maternal mortality rate in Ethiopia is staggering and addressing women’s reproductive health is a great intervention to decrease unnecessary morbidity and mortality.

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