Yegna: Changing Lives in Ethiopia

By Dana Zillgitt, Regular ContributorJuly 22, 2015

In Ethiopia, there are 9 million girls throughout the country. One in three of them can’t read. One in three don’t go or don’t have access to school. One in five say they don’t have any friends. And the most disheartening? Two in three believe wife beating can be justifiable. While these stats are concerning to say the least, I’m not worried. Because Yegna is taking over.

Wait, back up. What the heck is Yegna?

Yegna means “ours” in Amharic, one of the country’s 80 languages, and it’s a new brand targeting teenage girls in the form of a weekly radio broadcast that’s already taking the country by storm.


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But how does it work? Nine million is a huge number and their goals of finally making girls a priority and tapping into that resource in their fullest potential are daunting, to say the least.

The group is made of five young women who each take on a specific persona and correlating story lines, such as self-confidence, self-care, dreams, sexual harassment, and more each week. Their weekly broadcast creates all this through real life stories, discussions, and even by writing their own songs, which, by the way, are insanely catchy with strong messages as well.  Through all of this, they’re hoping to create awareness, increase self-confidence, as well as institutionalize a need for access to education for everyone.

But how many people does it reach? How many people actually tune in on a regular basis? Is it actually doing anything? Yegna knows that in order to create change for girls, they must make it relatable for everyone in the country. And it’s clear they’ve been doing this, because they have already reached at least 5 million people in 10,000 listening groups on a regular basis.

And a huge has said that it has already altered the way they not only view the women in their community but in their own lives as well.  

So where do we go from here? Is Yegna sustainable? Since its inception in 2013, their numbers are continually growing in record time. Parents are having conversations with their children, young men are changing the ways they view and treat women, and Yegna is a great example of the little things creating a bigger change. It’s the first of its kind in the country. While the kind of change they’re looking to create won’t happen overnight nor at the rate anybody would like, they’re making big steps for women everywhere. I can’t wait for Yegna to reach 10 million listeners and create more similar brands throughout the region. It’s an exciting thing to be keeping an eye on.

Let's chat!

Have you heard of Yegna? How can we continue their work in our communities? How can we begin to discuss these issues everywhere? Tell us below!

About Dana

DANA_ZILLGITT_writer_bio_(1).jpgDana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.


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