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Watch: Ethiopia’s first all-woman music band is spreading a message of empowerment in the country

All-woman band Yegna, ‘by Ethiopians, for Ethiopians’, is not your ordinary girl band.


Yegna, an five-member all-woman band has carved out a special niche among Ethiopia’s young women. A video (above) by The Guardian showcases the significance of what Yegna, which means “ours” in Amharic, does through its music, radio shows and television drama, especially in the socio-cultural atmosphere of Ethiopia.

According to The Guardian, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in Eastern Africa but young women are plagued with problems like sexual harassment, child marriage, early pregnancies and gender-based violence. So, when a group of young women from Ethiopia start talking about change and empowerment, and confronting such real-life issues through music and drama, you can be sure they’re being noticed – by millions of people, no less.

Dubbed “Ethiopia’s Spice Girls”, the country’s favourite girl band was launched in 2013 by Girl Effect, a creative non-profit that uses media and technology to help empower girls, in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. Though the latter recently cut funding for the programme, Yegna still powers through the country, thanks to Girl Effect’s efforts to keep the band running.

“We’re a brand created by Ethiopians and for Ethiopians,” said Gayathri Butler, Girl Effect Ethiopia’s country director, to The Guardian. “What we’re trying to do requires a sustained effort for change in the long term. We’re in it for the long term. We’re already seeing impact, we want to see it at scale over time and that requires commitment. It’s never been more important.”

The members of Yegna – Lemlem Hailemichael, Teref Kassahun, Eyerusalem Kelemework, Zebiba Girma and Rahel Getusee – claim that they see themselves as teachers and the voice of the children of Ethiopia rather than singers. To know more about the band and its impact, watch the videos below:

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