Lidya had completed her education and was working as a physician at a public health centre before she joined the YWCA in Ethiopia. She always wanted to give back to her community in a meaningful way and with the YWCA, Lidya was able to facilitate valuable opportunities for young women and support them to access human rights and gender justice.
Lidya wears two hats at YWCA Ethiopia. She focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as a Young Woman Lead and amplifies the organisation’s messaging as a PR, Communications and Membership Development Coordinator. In these roles, she leverages her skills and opportunities, online and offline, to talk to young women about their rights and the services they can access.
In Ethiopia, girls are surrounded by stereotypes that exclude them from a thriving socio-economic life. Families expect women to stay at home and do chores; and if a girl goes to college or to work, they make it seem like a favour. Once married, the husbands get to decide how many kids and what family planning method will be used.
Lidya provides girls and young women with safe spaces to gather for discussions, trainings and workshops on their body and their rights. They learn about family planning, understand the impact of SRHR on mental health and access counselling services.
To allow multi-stakeholder exchanges, she reaches out to boys and men in schools and communities to raise awareness about women’s rights.
Through her advocacy and influence, Lidya has been able to create a pool of young leaders in the country who are no longer scared to stand up for themselves. She is particularly proud of a group of university women who made their voices heard for the effective implementation of the Anti-Harassment Policy on their campuses.
“World YWCA enables young leaders like me to provide real and tangible ways for women to change the world through local, regional, national & international leadership roles,” says Lidya.
Covid-19 has been particularly difficult for women, amplifying pre-existing challenges and creating new difficulties. Many of them were breadwinners who lost their jobs. Several others were unable to access even basic health care facilities, including pre-natal and post-natal care. These realities frazzled a lot of young women and women physically, emotionally and mentally.
With usual communication channels affected, Lidya had to think outside the box and develop a holistic solution to assist young women. With her YWCA team, she co-created the app called ‘Telela’ — a multilingual virtual safe space to anonymously engage in peer-to-peer conversations. The app also comes loaded with emergency hotlines, SRHR and mental health resources, and chat rooms with healthcare professionals.
Lidya is motivated by the change she can see; the powerhouses that women have become. She wants
to continue working towards building relatable and adaptable solutions for women. With her ongoing efforts and ideas to scale up the mobile app, she plans to reach out to vulnerable and marginalised women in the last mile areas of Ethiopia.