BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS FOR GIRLS
Girl Hub Ethiopia recently formed a partnership with Peace Corps to provide Yegna content for their gender clubs. This week Peace Corps volunteer, Morgan Davison, tells us about her experience of living and working in Ethiopia.
I’m working as a health volunteer in Chilga Woreda, about 60 kilometers from Ethiopia’s Gondar region. I work on HIV/AIDS, malaria, hygiene and sanitation and nutrition and I am the National Coordinator for Peace Corps Ethiopia’s Gender and Development (GAD) Committee.
Peace Corps Ethiopia has more than 250 volunteers in four regions: SNNPR, Amhara, Oromia and Tigray. Gender and Development is one of its cross-sector initiatives, meaning volunteers from every sector incorporate GAD projects into their work.
I have been living in Chilga for 16 months and, although it has its ups and downs, it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
For the first year, I was the only foreigner within 60 kilometres of my town. I lived with the local community, learned their language and showed them I’m here to stay. I’ve made some amazing Ethiopian friends for life.
I’ve learned that there are many reasons why girls are marginalised in Ethiopia. Many girls in rural areas don’t go to school because they’re expected to stay at home to look after their family or help with household chores.
It’s almost always the girl who goes to fetch water, a job that can take many hours every day.
After living in a community for a long time, I’ve learned sensitive topics affecting girls are almost never discussed.
Gender clubs play a vital role, giving girls a safe space and allowing them to talk openly.
In March, Girl Hub Ethiopia supported volunteers with the GAD Committee’s first Action for Gender Equality Summit. A few weeks later, they prepared 250 Gender Club kits for every Peace Corps Volunteer in country. The materials included series one and two of the Yegna radio drama as well as Yegna music. Volunteers across the country are already starting to use the materials with existing gender clubs and are creating new clubs based around the kits.
The Girl Hub materials we’re now using in our clubs have made a big difference. They mean girls aren’t confronted with someone from outside bringing up tricky issues.
In the past, some girls found it hard to relate to one of us talking about domestic violence or early marriage, but that becomes much easier for them when they’re having the conversation with one of the Yegna characters. It’s great to be able to provide our students with, not just one, but five strong women to look up to in a country in which female role models can be hard to come by.