By Gaiane Khachatrian
AIWA–SF remains committed to support the self-development of teenage girls in Armenia through its sustainable programs focused on comprehensive health education, as well as leadership skills development.
The eighth-grade girls at School #155 excitedly took part in a series of workshops led by public health specialist Ani Jilozian. Topics ranged from biological processes, including anatomy and physiology, menstruation, puberty and safeguarding against STIs and unwanted pregnancies, to the more psychological aspects of sexuality, such as building healthy relationships, informed consent, communication with partners, and issues related to gender inequality and violence in relationships.
In reflecting on the program, Ani noted, “Teaching sexual education is a rewarding experience, especially when you have the pleasure to interact with girls who have a deep love of learning and an interest in the subject matter. Over the last few months, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of getting to know the girls at School #155, watching them interact with one another, and guiding them to learn about their bodies and relationships with others.”
In general, studies show that adolescents who take part in comprehensive sexual education programs delay sexual initiation, are more likely to engage in safe behavior, are less likely to enter violent relationships, and hold healthier views on gender roles and expectations.
AIWA–SF is very pleased to know that the girls participating in the sessions made positive remarks about the program. One participant noted, “For me, the most interesting classes were the ones on gender-based violence, gender inequality, and STIs and family planning.” Another remarked, “I gained a new understanding of healthy and unhealthy relationships.” In reflecting on how the workshops played a role in their personal development, one participant expressed, “I received answers to personal questions, and I feel confident that I will be able to establish a healthy relationship with my future partner.”
Given the interactive format of the workshops, the girls felt that they could express themselves and be heard, which helped them both in forging closer friendships with their classmates as well as improving on their self-esteem.
Parallel to the Comprehensive Health Education Program, the Leadership Program for Teens, run by Elvira Meliksetyan at the Women’s Resource Center in Armenia, had a great resonance in School # 155. “I observed several sessions during the program,” says Ms. Petrosian, the Vice Principle of the school. “The school administration is very pleased that AIWA–SF has created this unique opportunity for our girls. We trust that the girls will take in everything that is offered during the sessions, and they will become active citizens of our society in the future.”
To donate to this initiative and others please send contributions to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave. #227 Los Gatos, CA. 95032