U.S. Peace Corps Hosts Action for Gender Equality Summit in Addis

U.S. Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach celebrates Women’s Month with a youth participant in the Action for Gender Equality Summit.
U.S. Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach celebrates Women’s Month with a youth participant in the Action for Gender Equality Summit.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 13, 2015- Peace Corps Ethiopia’s Gender and Development Committee (GAD) is hosting the second annual Action for Gender Equality (AGE) Summit from March 12-16, 2015 in Addis Ababa.  The AGE Summit is a leadership capacity building event that marks the culmination of a 3-month volunteer competition of consistent and targeted youth-centered gender and development programming in sites throughout Ethiopia.

Speaking at the opening of the five-day program, Patricia Haslach, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, highlighted the importance of the program when she said, “It is so important to work with youth, be they young men or young women, and to help them get the foundation they will need for a successful future.  Peace Corps Volunteers are special because they take the time to work with youth to make a difference in theirs lives, and to help make their communities better places.”

The AGE project targets youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who live in rural areas and are vulnerable to early marriage, gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.  The summit and competition aim to shape participating youth into young leaders who will apply the skills developed in their communities and become agents of change throughout Ethiopia.  The summit comes just after International Women’s Day on March 8 and will coincide with Great Ethiopia Run’s Women First 5K race on March 15, in which all female summit participants will partake.

Worldwide the Peace Corps works on gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing nations.  Peace Corps Ethiopia’s GAD Committee helps coordinate these efforts here in Ethiopia.  GAD works to promote sustainable gender development in each Peace Corps Volunteer community around Ethiopia by offering trainings, workshops, and resources to Volunteers.

Volunteers, and students from their local communities, competed to attend the summit. GAD provided Volunteers with a list of gender-related activities to complete in their communities with local students. Volunteers who completed the most activities in three months will attend the Summit with two students.  This year, 20 Volunteers will be coming to Addis Ababa for the Action for Gender Equality Summit along with 40 Ethiopian students from Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray.

During the five-day program, Ethiopian students will participate in activities, discussions, and presentations about gender equality, health, HIV/AIDS, and youth empowerment.

These students will receive targeted and intensive training and will graduate with a level of knowledge and skill that they can use and transfer to other youth in their communities. They will leave the training with recruitment, facilitation, presentation and implementation skills, and with an in-depth understanding of gender norms, their many effects, and how they are related to and can perpetuate HIV/AIDS.  By the end of the summit youth will be empowered and adequately trained to educate and empower members in their respective communities to join the effort to end gender inequality and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

The AGE Summit was developed by Peace Corps Volunteers and is funded by a grant from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.  Additional support is provided by the Embassy of the United States in Addis Ababa, the Center for Community Leadership, and Girl Hub.

About Peace Corps Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers live and work in communities in the Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and Southern Nations regions of Ethiopia. Each Volunteer collaborates with local counterparts to support the Ethiopia government’s strategy to create and strengthen their communities’ capacity in the areas of public health, food security and environmental awareness, and English language education. To best serve the needs of the Ethiopian government, Volunteers are placed in community health centers, HIV/AIDS resource centers, community-based organizations (CBOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), district-level government offices, public schools, and teacher colleges.  There are currently around 230 Volunteers serving in Ethiopia and over 3,000 have served here since Peace Corps opened the post in Ethiopia in 1962.  For more information, visit http://www.pcethiopia.org/ and follow us on Facebook.com/PeaceCorpsEthiopia

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.peacecorps.gov/