Last month, a UN gender equality report revealed that there are 4.4 million more women than men living on less than $1.90 (£1.37) a day and that women and girls are most likely to miss out on the benefits of economic and social progress. Last November, the World Health Organisation also reported that gender based violence from intimate partners is significantly higher in lower income countries than more prosperous countries.
Whilst being vulnerable is not solely limited those with low income, it’s clear that poverty greatly increases a girl’s chances of being exposed to gender discrimination and decreases her chances of being able to create change in her own life.
The convening power of these campaigns has the potential to be hugely empowering for those who can be part of it. But for those who never see it, there is the risk that they become increasingly marginalised.
And that’s where programmes like the one I lead, Yegna, come in. Yegna has been addressing these challenges since its inception in 2012 just as #TimesUp and #MeToo are doing today.
In Ethiopia, only one third of women have attended primary school and nearly one in four women have experienced physical violence (DHS, 2016). Social isolation is also a major problem with one in five girls reporting they have no friends.
Yegna was built on the recognition that negative social norms have a huge influence in holding girls back, and because we knew that adolescent girls in Ethiopia are becoming increasingly vulnerable with little voice and visibility to make change for themselves.
Yegna uses mass media, storytelling and role-modelling to reach millions of Ethiopian girls, helping them recognise that they are not alone in their journeys through adolescence. Through radio, TV, music, and digital channels, Yegna helps them reimagine their value, empowers them to use their voice and enables them to build the connections they need to thrive within Ethiopian society.