In Ethiopia, our youth brand Yegna tells the stories of five girls and two boys through music, drama and TV to tackle issues including early marriage, domestic violence and abuse, education, friendships and relationships.
By reflecting the reality of everyday life for girls in Ethiopia through positive role models and relatable storylines, Yegna shows girls, boys and adults that different choices and options exist and that it’s possible to challenge the status quo.
We have evidence that Yegna is changing perceptions in Ethiopia, with 65 per cent of girls aware of the brand saying it makes them feel more confident, and 66 per cent saying it makes them think about how to best achieve their future goals.
The brand also reaches parents, community leaders, boys and men. In total 95 per cent of boy listeners say they would raise the alarm if they witnessed a young girl being forced into marriage – showing that gender norms are beginning to shift. Just as with FGM, changing the tide on culturally ingrained practices like these requires bringing the whole community on board.
On the ground in Ethiopia a number of organisations are working to tackle FGM directly, including NGOs such as UNICEF, Save The Children and Norwegian Church Aid. There are also active local NGOs such as KMG Ethiopia, which works to create a society where women are free of violence and abuse, including FGM. In August KMG organised a ceremony in the Bona Woreda district celebrating uncut girls, which brought people together to celebrate 10,000 girls who have not undergone FGM, their families and the men who marry uncut girls.
Demonstrating and championing alternative rites of passage for girls and young women can help to shift the myths and perceptions around FGM, and has seen the rate in areas KMG works drop from nearly 100 per cent to just 3 per cent.
Showing a new way forward is crucial to making FGM a thing of the past, which is why ceremonies like these are so effective, and why the role models in Yegna’s TV and radio dramas shift attitudes in girls and boys. By mobilising whole communities to tackle the social norms and gender inequality underpinning the practice, we can help to end FGM, in this generation.
Learn more about Yegna’s work in Ethiopia.