Farah Ramzan Golant, CEO of Girl Effect says:

“We and our supporters across media, technology and business, believe in the power of innovative, unconventional and efficient solutions to combating poverty at scale. Yegna is a pioneering example of this. Now more than ever we are committed to leveraging this expertise to grow the impact of Yegna and all our programmes around the world.”

A statement from Girl Effect:

Global poverty exists at scale and is not going away. Girl Effect applies world-class innovation to help tackle a worldwide problem that confronts us all. As the world becomes ever more connected, we leverage the power of insight, media and disruptive technology to enable change at scale. Our approach is to invest in girls as the world’s biggest untapped resource. To break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, there is ample proof that individuals, families and communities need to change the way they think, feel and act towards girls. As girls rise, change becomes self-sustaining.

As the UK’s Department of International Development today advised us of the conclusion of its work with Girl Effect, we would like to highlight the impact of Yegna on millions of people in Ethiopia and the new knowledge we have gained through our work together.

Traditionally, development solutions that address poverty focus on supply-side services – like schools or health clinics – things that we can see and touch. But all too often we treat the symptoms of poverty and overlook the cause. Research shows that girls consistently get passed over or are denied access to the services they need – they fail to take up immunisations, or drop out of school. Often it is negative entrenched social norms about a girl’s own value that prevent girls from accessing these services. Through culture brands like Yegna, Girl Effect addresses these issues. Our unique approach fills the gap of what is often unseen, to unlock a New Normal for girls. When the New Normal takes hold, girls become visible, vocal, connected and valued and are given the tools they need to become agents of change, not just recipients of aid.

Yegna is Girl Effect’s multi-platform culture brand, rooted in Ethiopian culture, which inspires positive behaviour change for girls. Using storylines that confront real-life issues such as early forced marriage, violence and barriers to education, the Yegna brand works through a radio drama, music, talk shows, and clubs to reframe the way people think about girls – and the way girls think of themselves. It provides role models and inspiration authentically drawn from girls to surface the issues that are important to them. It gives voice to their desire to stay in school, stay safe and healthy, have economic opportunity and participate fully in society.

Designed by and with girls from the start, it challenges the way people think and therefore behave towards girls. Yegna is a hand-up not a hand-out. It gives voice to a new generation and unlocks change from within communities seeking to rise out of poverty.

Yegna today is reaching 8.5 million people, or 50% of the population in Addis and the Amhara region of Ethiopia, helping to change the lives of some of the hardest-to-reach and most disadvantaged girls in the world. 76% of girls who listen to Yegna say that it has inspired them to continue their education and 95% of boy listeners say that they would speak out against a girl being forced to marry.

Change at scale requires like-minded innovators. We would like to thank fellow pioneers such as DFID for their farsighted investment in work well ahead of its time. From the Family Planning Summit in 2012 to the Girl Summit in 2014, Girl Effect created the platforms to get girls on the global agenda and drive resources to them. When we designed Yegna, mass media, social media and disruptive technology had not previously been harnessed in this way. Rather than considering girls as beneficiaries, we listened to them describe the future they want and acted on it.

Partners like DFID broke new ground with us by investing in this cutting-edge work. DFID has consistently recognised Yegna’s impact, achieving an A grade in DFID’s annual evaluation for the last three consecutive years. Their partnership in projects like Yegna has only made it stronger, amplifying DFID’s own investments, as well as other supply-side partners’ work. These investments also support the partnership we have with the Government of Ethiopia, in its priorities to address education, health, economic opportunity, safety, child marriage and FGM.

Yegna is only one example of Girl Effect’s work, and the change we are unleashing across all corners of the globe. In four short years we have achieved irreversible momentum. Change that has begun in this generation will continue into the next, and all generations to come.

New ideas are often resisted and sometimes willfully misrepresented. Our work continues with the confidence we gain from the feedback of girls and their communities on the ground. As a girl in Amhara has recently said: “Everything that Yegna stands for – peace, support, friendship – has changed my outlook on life and made me feel proud to be a girl.”

With our partners, Girl Effect remains committed to Yegna as it grows, enables a rising generation, and creates even more impact.