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A UNFPA supported Female Students' Resource Center was inaugurated today at the Institute of Technology of the Addis Ababa University (AAU). The center which is the fourth of its kind aims at improving access of students to context specific and gender sensitive sexual and reproductive health information and services. It is believed that the center will enable them to overcome the challenges related particularly to HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health issues.

“The establishment of the resource center is reflective of the fact that female students are at a stark disadvantage facing quite a number of challenges related to SRH and the associated gender based violence,” said Bettina Maas, UNFPA Country Representative speaking at the inauguration ceremony. She underlined the need to increase their access to information and related services to empower them.

Professor Tassew Woldehana, President of Addis Ababa University, said on his part that “In order to effectively run activities in relation to HIV/AIDS, AAU has created an enabling environment to contribute its parts in the creation of HIV/AIDS free society.” He added that the university is “implementing the national HIV/AIDS plan by establishing strong collaboration with higher education HIV/AIDS prevention and control forum, Africa AIDS Initiative International and Addis Ababa city Administration Health Bureau."

The Resource Center will create safe space for female students free from gender bias and gender-based violence, peer pressure, and other social problems which directly or indirectly affect their academic performance and psychosocial wellbeing.

UNFPA is supports this initiative through the resources of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Right-Based Approach to Adolescent and Youth Development funded by the Norwegian Government which is in its second phase of implementation and about to embark on its third phase.

The Joint Programme is supporting interventions on adolescents and young people in 30 selected districts, 16 higher education institutions and 100 secondary high schools in Amhara, Oromia, Southern Region, Afar & Tigray Regions, as well as Addis Ababa City Administration. The interventions aim at enhancement of adolescent and young people’s capacity, making it possible for them to claim their rights and access an integrated package of youth-friendly services.

The interventions of the Joint Programme will be benefiting more than 400, 000 adolescents and young people with direct services on SRH and HIV/AIDS/STI services including GBV while 3 million will reap indirect benefits from youth empowerment information through the mass media.

UNFPA will be supporting the Resource Center in partnership with the Addis Ababa University and the African AIDS Initiative International.