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Bitania Lulu Berhanu

Bitania Lulu Berhanu - 2019 Nominee
Position: Young Designer, Adolescents 360 – Ethiopia
Organization: Population Services International/Ethiopia
Current Location: Switzerland, Europe
Masters in Human and Economic Development in Africa from Addis Ababa University
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering; Certificates in Leadership, Training for Trainers, Design Thinking
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Young Female Personality of 2015
    Awarding Organization:
    Africa Youth Awards
    Date Awarded:
    January 1, 2016
  • Award:
    STEM/TVET Ambassador for Girls Education
    Awarding Organization:
    African Union CIEFFA
    Date Awarded:
    November 30, 2019
  • Award:
    PanAfrican Science Award
    Awarding Organization:
    Pan African Youth Union Congress
    Date Awarded:
    December 12, 2017
75 Public Votes Reached!
Bitania Lulu Berhanu is a visionary reimagining how married adolescent girls in Ethiopia access the reproductive care they want and need. She champions the value of seeing girls as not just clients but humans with holistic needs beyond SRH. – Karl Hofmann, President and CEO at Population Services International
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

As a young designer, I am a youth voice that represents the needs expressed by young girls. I too often see girls have no say in deciding how many children they desire. We’re addressing these pressures by giving girls and their husbands a new way to plan for the children they desire on their own terms through PSI’s youth-powered SRH project Adolescents 360 (A360). I, alongside a range of experts, am re-defining how meaningful youth engagement can change how we reach adolescent girls with modern contraception. We developed Smart Start as a financial planning platform that supports rural couples to understand the cost benefit of delaying pregnancy. In the 16 months since project implementation, more than 19,700 girls have voluntarily taken up a contraceptive method through Smart Start.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Growing up, I was fortunate to have learned about contraception in school. But not every girl has the same opportunity. That’s been my motivation to pursue this work. It is truly rewarding and humbling to be a part of a program that is impacting actual lives by transforming how we reach, inspire and serve young people with modern contraceptive programming. Together, we’re changing the conversation around contraception – and we’re doing it by leading with what matters most to young people, today.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

My work gives me exposure to urban-rural adolescent girls, various experts&high-level stages. I always tell girls to dare dream &set goals for themselves; Family Planning &the use of modern contraception would only assist in reaching the goals they are already working towards. I hear their stories with empathy, I learn from them to help design the programs to work FOR them with them always at the center. I voice their needs to policy&decision-makers to ensure sync at all levels.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

As a young leader passionately committed to empower and uplift the youth, being named the winner of 120 under 40 would give me access to a wide set of audience to voice the desires of young girls and women; to champion the need to see our girls as more than just clients of SRH, but as humans with many immediate desires; and thus to share the relevance of including them in project design processes. I'd also be gratified to use the small grant for a meaningful event to capacitate young girls.

Video Introduction
Photos of the nominee in the field/at work
Speaking on Teenage pregnancy prevention at the UN High Level Political Forum, New York, 2017 As I also Chair the Youth Advisory parliament of Amref Health Africa, this was taken during one of my field visits to the Women Self Help groups in the rural parts of Ethiopia; a group of women helping us change the narratives of empowering women and girls with SRHR In the Adolescents 360 projects, a volunteer group of older women "Women Development Army" works hands in hand with us, young designers, and government health extension workers to serve the needs of girls

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