GEORGIA – Lessons learned from outreach work with youth and for youth

“When I started my menstrual cycle for the first time, I didn’t know what to do, no one ever talked to me about it” – said a 14-year-old girl from Gori.

The outreach component helps us to identify the needs of teenagers and young people so that activities focused on their needs can be planned and effective tools can be put in place to solve essential problems. Outreach work of Association HERA XXI targets the most under-served districts, IDP (internally displaced people) settlements to raise the awareness of adults and young people about healthy lifestyles and behaviour.

One of the fundamental values of Association HERA XXI is a youth-oriented approach, which in turn serves the purpose of identifying the needs and interests of the coming generation. A 2021 survey of young people that we conducted found that despite some progress, information on reproductive health and gender-based violence is scarce and there is a need to plan and implement awareness-raising activities.

Discussions held during outreach meetings reveal that teenagers and young people often face bullying cases, both in physical and Internet space in the form of cyber-bullying; Several participants reported receiving inappropriate sexual messages on social networks, and it is difficult to talk to parents and teachers about sexual topics because they do not expect empathy and understanding from them.

Representatives of Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnic minorities also take an active part in outreach visits. Amaze videos* translated into Armenian and Azerbaijani help provide them with competent information on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Representatives of ethnic minorities note that the most urgent problems in their community are: gender, violence, lack of safe space, and forced marriage.

Outreach work is one of the most successful approaches when working with teenagers and young people. With such an approach, their needs are well identified to take further effective steps, and the Association “HERA XXI” has many years of experience in this. Adults and young people say that they feel free, they talk to us about personal topics without any problems, and this is due to the stigma-free, open and reliable environment that we create for them. They trust us and see in us the people with whom they feel safe.

SOURCE: HERA XXI in Central & Eastern Europe Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, No. 03 (211) 2023 ; See this article about IDP settlements in Georgia.

*AMAZE Sex Education Videos are on YouTube – These provide real information in fun, animated videos that give viewers all the answers they actually want to know about sex, the body and relationships. They cover mental health, gender identity and sexual orientation, STDs and HIV, personal safety, puberty, safer sex, pregnancy and reproduction, and healthy relationships. Each video is a few minutes long. Number of views are in the tens and hundreds of thousands, even sometimes over a million. As HERA XXI has done, you can also translate them.