Addis Birhan (“New Light”)

Addis Birhan is a program that brings together mentors and husbands to promote gender-equitable relationships and reduce HIV risk.     

The Issue

Traditional gender roles have largely led to the exclusion of Ethiopian men from initiatives related to reproductive health, family planning, parenthood, and sexuality.

The Progress

In Ethiopia, the Population Council developed initiatives to strengthen the resources of vulnerable adolescent girls, including married girls, to improve their lives and reduce their risk of HIV. As a result of those successful programs, husbands of married girls expressed interest in a parallel program for themselves. The Council developed Addis Birhan in response. The goal of Addis Birhan is HIV prevention, with a focus on addressing detrimental gender norms, reducing domestic abuse, and improving spousal communication. Trained male mentors organize meetings with groups of married men on a weekly basis for a period of three months. The sessions last no longer than an hour and are held in casual settings that promote conversation, self-exploration, and the expression of feelings in a nonjudgmental environment. The curriculum includes modules on gender, relationships, caring for children and families, drugs and alcohol, HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and violence. 

The Impact

Since 2007, more than 125,000 men have participated in Addis Birhan. Members range in age from 18 to 85 years, with the majority aged 25–39 years. Ninety-four percent are heads of households; others are sons of household heads. Population Council researchers are measuring changes in reproductive health knowledge, gender attitudes, domestic violence, family planning use, and other factors.

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