Can a woman ask her partner to use a condom if she knew he has a sexually transmitted disease? Can a woman say no to her husband if she does not want to have sex? In the efforts to protect girls from harassment, HIV, teenage pregnancy and other issues related to sexual and reproductive health, many schools in Ethiopia have established girls’ clubs where girls could meet, get information, support each other and discuss their problems. Boys or young men did not participate. Such approach has not brought the desired results. Only 35 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age think that they can ask their partner to use a condom if they knew he has sexually transmitted disease. More than half of them cannot say no to their husband if they do not want to have sex (EDHS 2016).

In addition, excluding boys and young men from interventions empowering girls, can lead to increase in violence against women, because men can feel threatened.

ECYDO’s projects use innovative approach, which actively involves boys and young men. In our projects, we establish boy’s group at school compound, celebrate boys’ day, and reward best performing boys and young men who start to help with house chores, have stop doing any form of harassment against girls, or advocate for equitable relationships between boys and girls. Within our activities, we conduct discussion among girls and boys to reduce to provide space for young to talk about they are normally too shy or afraid to talk about. By challenging existing attitudes and providing needed information, we aim at reducing gender-based violence and other problems related to sexual and reproductive health of school youths.

At the same time, our interventions establish and strengthen partnership with relevant stakeholders, such as school administrations, health care providers, psycho-social support, youth organizations, parents, policy and local governments.

Engaging boys and young men and create responsive environment can in a gender-sensitive way end HIV, prevent teenage pregnancy and bring shift from unequal, violent relationships to relationships where partners respect each other.