Gonder and Samara to spearhead Girls’ Empowerment Races

Addis Ababa, Gonder, 17 September 2015 – UNICEF Ethiopia, in partnership with the Amhara Bureau of Women Children and Youth Affairs (BoWCYA), the Gonder City Administration Culture, Tourism and Sport Department and the Great Ethiopian Run, are organising a mass participation 5 km race in Gonder on Sunday 20 September 2015, and in Samara on 4 October 2015, to promote Girls’ Empowerment.

A total of 5,000 adults and 1,250 children are expected to participate in the running events, while over 10,000 thousand spectators are expected to attend the event and the messaging. Besides, two community outreach programmes are planned in both locations and expect to reach thousands. In addition, a photo and art exhibition and media roundtable discussion will take place on the eve of the race.

The twoPoster- Great Ethiopian Run in Gondar races will focus on themes relevant to each region. In Gonder, the focus will be on “Ending Child Marriage” while in Samara, the emphasis will be on “Ending Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting (FGM/C).”

In Ethiopia, one in every five girls is married before the age of 18 and this practice is prevalent across all the regions. In Amhara nearly half of the girls are married before the age of 18 (44.8 per cent, EGLDAM, 2008). Nearly 60 per cent of cases of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is practiced in the Afar Region.

“UNICEF strongly believes that by 2025, Ethiopia will no longer have cases of child marriage, but this will only happen if we all work together – the government, civil society, religious and community leaders, women, men, boys and the girls themselves,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia.

The event will be attended by high-level government dignitaries, representatives from the UN, NGOs, CSOs and members of the media. In addition, Abelone Melesse, UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia, and renowned artists and sport personalities including Haregwoine Assefa and athlete Gebeyaneshe Ayele respectively (winner of the 15 km Dasani Road Race in Addis Ababa in June and winner of Millennium half marathon in Accra Ghana two weeks ago) will be attending the activities in Gonder to support the messaging around Girls’ Empowerment.

 

The Teenage Parliamentarian

By Bethlehem Kiros

Ubah Jemal, 15, makes a call before a meeting of the Girls Club in Jigjiga, Somali Region, Ethiopia
Ubah Jemal, 15, makes a call before a meeting of the Girls Club in Jigjiga, Somali Region, Ethiopia, 24 January 2015. Ubah is the vice president of the Somali Region Children’s Parliament, a position that enabled her to engage and empower girls in Jigjiga town, where she lives. In addition to heading the Girls Club in her own high school, she is responsible for setting up similar clubs in all the primary schools of her town. Ubah wants to pursue the field of medicine while continuing to serve in leadership position. “I want to become a doctor because it grants the opportunity to touch peoples’ lives directly, but ultimately, I want to become a leader, preferably a president,” she says. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Bindra

SOMALI REGION, 24 January 2014 – “Dreams won’t cost you a thing, so dream,’’ cheerfully exclaimed Ubah Jemal, as she concluded delivering one of her weekly pep talks to the Girls Club members from all the primary schools in Jigjiga town, the capital of the Somali region. A 12th grader at the Jigjiga Senior Secondary and Preparatory School, 15 years old Ubah is well known among female primary and high school students in Jigjiga for her inspirational speeches and her ability to organise and lead. Even at her childhood, she was made to skip third and fourth grade because of her intelligence. Spotted first by the Regional government officials while presenting a speech as a representative of her School Parliament, Ubah was often invited to attend meetings that were organised by the Regional Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (BOWCYA). Then three years ago, upon the formation of the Somali Region Children’s Parliament, she was elected as vice president, acquiring a role that enabled her to spread her wings beyond her own high school. As part of the global initiative to promote the rights and roles of children in the society, children parliaments are formed in each of the nine regional states and the two city administrations in Ethiopia. Picked from various schools across the nation, Ubah and her fellow appointees serve as mouthpieces of all under 18 children throughout the country.

Leadership with results

Ubah Jemal, 15, applies makeup before a meeting of the Girls Club in Jigjiga Right after she assumed her position as vice-president, she was given the role to head the Girls Club in her school that was established that same year, when she was at the 9th grade. The club absorbed other existing clubs like the anti FGM (Female genital mutilation) to address more issues of girls in the region, including FGM. “We wanted it to be a safe place where we can talk freely about all our issues as girls and learn from each other,’’ says Ubah. Besides offering the opportunity of growth through continued discussions, Ubah and her group mates opted for practical ways to help girls, after she had an eye-opening encounter with a classmate. “A girl who was sitting next to me was very stressed because her period suddenly came and she couldn’t leave the room fearing that the teacher and the students will see her cloth,’’ she recalls, ‘’and she was also very hesitant to tell me because apparently, it is a taboo to talk about such things.’’ She adds that an idea came to her right there to create a space in school where girls can access the proper sanitation materials, clean and freshen up, and even take painkiller pills and nap if they feel sick. Consequently, the Girls Club called a meeting of all female students in the school to raise money, and eventually made this idea a reality. “Once they saw that we made it possible, BOWCYA started supporting us and now UNICEF provides the sanitation supplies regularly,’’ says Ubah.

She believes that the availability of the girls’ room has contributed to an increase in attendance of girl students, since some girls have the tendency of not showing up to school, sometimes for a whole week, during their menstruation period due to their inability to afford sanitation pads or painful cramps. According to a study conducted by Water Aid, 51 per cent of girls in Ethiopia miss up to four school days every month and 39 per cent show reduced performance, when they are on their periods. The severe cramps are especially common among girls who went through Pharaonic circumcision. Dubbed as the most severe form of FGM, Pharaonic circumcision–which refers to the removal of all external genitalia and then the sewing of the remaining parts of outer lips, only leaving a small whole for urine and menstrual flow–-was highly prevalent in the Somali region until its decrease in the last five years through the organised efforts of the local community, religious leaders and the government.

Passing the torch

A member of a high school Girls Club waits by the door for their meeting to start in Jigjiga After making sure that the same model of Girls’ Club is duplicated in the only other high school in Jigjiga town, Ubah spearheaded the formation of Girl Clubs in elementary schools. “I thought it would be beneficial if younger girls also got the chance to organise so I approached the BoWCYA head who regarded it as a great idea,’’ she recounts. In less than a week, Ubah met with the principals of all the four primary schools in Jigjiga town and established four Girl Clubs, each with 30 members. She now meets with them on weekly basis where they get to report and plan their activities, while receiving constant encouragement from her.

According to Ubah, the girls keep watchful eye in their communities and offer assistance when they are needed. So far, they have stopped planned circumcisions, supported indigent children with school materials, and even found foster parents for few orphaned students. Ubah is confident that there will be many girls who are now empowered enough to take over her responsibilities when she goes to university, which is in less than eight months. Her plan is to study medicine either at the Addis Ababa University or go abroad, if she gets a scholarship. “I want to become a doctor because it grants the opportunity to touch peoples’ lives directly, but ultimately, I want to become a leader, preferably a president,’’ she laughs. “Who can charge me from dreaming?’’

Media Get-Together with UNICEF National Ambassadors -Abelone Melesse and Hannah Godefa

By Wossen Mulatu

Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse
Media meets UNICEF Ethiopia National Ambassadors-Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse on Friday, 24 July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, 24 July 2015 Today, UNICEF’s Media and External Relations Section has organised the third media get-together with UNICEF National Ambassadors to Ethiopia – Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse. Also present on the occasion as guests of honour were the fathers of Abelone and Hannah- Ato Solomon Melesse and Ato Godefa Assegahen respectively.

Since their appointment as UNICEF National Ambassadors, Hannah and Abelone have shown a true commitment to the issues of women and children by involving in different advocacy activities both in Ethiopia and abroad. At the media get- together, both Hannah and Abelone shared their current activities in relation to the rights of women and children including their recent field visit to Amhara region to see UNICEF- supported child protection and health activities.

At the occasion, the media had the opportunity to ask questions to Abelone and Hannah on their role as ambassadors, their inspiration and their future plan. The media also forwarded their questions to their fathers on how they have raised their daughters and how they support them.

Speaking of her visit to Amhara region, Hannah said the most fulfilling part of her visit was the interaction she had with the women and children in the community. “I have talked to women who were faced with child marriage instead of going to school- it’s really heartbreaking.”

Seventeen year old Hannah became a UNICEF National Ambassador in 2013. This year, Hannah has participated at the World Education Forum 2015 (WEF) from 19 to 22 May in the city of Incheon, Republic of Korea. Hannah joined the “Leaving no one behind – how education can drive inclusive development?” panel co-hosted by the UNICEF Executive Director and David McKenzie of CNN. On 16 June, Hannah became a panelist or the 29th session of the Human Rights Council’s panel discussion on girls’ education held in Geneva.

Abelone on her part said, “My visit to Dera woreda in Amhara region has been an eye opener to see the progress made in the health sector in Ethiopia. I have witnessed how the health extension workers reach the most vulnerable population through promotive, preventive and basic curative health and nutrition services. My goal is to advocate especially for maternal health though my songs as a rap singer.”

Nineteen year old young rap star Abelone Melesse became a UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia in 2014. This year, Abelone has attended a number of meetings and conferences in her new capacity as an Ambassador. On International Women’s Day, Abelone was invited by Ethiopian Women’s Association in Norway joined by high level Norwegian politicians where she had the opportunity to deliberate a speech and perform her songs on behalf of the women in Norway and in Ethiopia. Abelone also officially released her new single entitled “Jewels of the world” – a song which she has dedicated to UNICEF at the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The song written by Abelone herself has received more than 10,000 views on Youtube 7,150 views on Facebook  and 70,106 views on DireTube.

Note to the media

How can UNICEF support the media? Our UNICEF Ethiopia website has many different resources, including: publications, photos, press releases, speeches, contact information, guidelines and other information useful for the media. In addition, we are present in many socialmedia platforms such as FacebookTwitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Delicious and Youtube 

In addition, the Media and External Relations Section facilitates individual interviews with specialists and experts on different programmes in different languages including: English, French, Arabic, German, Swahili, Dutch, Italian and many Ethiopian local languages. We also organise media round tables with senior staff and programme specialists, respective government officials and partners on different topics affecting women and children.

Regular media field visits will continue to be organised to visit UNICEF-supported project sites in Addis Ababa as well as in the regions.

We wish to thank those who were able to join us and look forward to our continuous collaboration in 2015 and beyond.

Translate commitments to invest in children into action, UNICEF urges leaders at Financing for Development Conference

Rahmat and her baby Ne'ema Abdu-Dessie Zurie Woreda
Rahmat and her baby Ne’ema Abdu-Dessie Zurie Woreda © UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Tsegaye

NEW YORK/ADDIS ABABA, 15 July 2015 – At the close of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, UNICEF challenges the international community to turn its promises to invest in children and young people into concrete action that reduces inequities and provides every child with a fair chance in life.

UNICEF welcomes the Addis Ababa Conference’s recognition that investing in children and young people is “critical to achieving inclusive, equitable and sustainable development”. This represents a significant shift away from the perception of children as passive recipients of social spending towards viewing them as agents of future growth and development. 

UNICEF also supports the Conference’s acknowledgement of the “vital importance of promoting and protecting the rights of all children, and ensuring that no child is left behind,” believing that this provides a strong basis for final negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director UNICEF, makes a remark at the Child Protection: Sustaining Investments in Childhood side event
Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director UNICEF, makes a remark at the Child Protection: Sustaining Investments in Childhood side event at FFD3 ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

“Here in Addis Ababa member states have agreed on a global roadmap for development finance that recognises in much stronger words than previous agreements that investing in children is central to inclusive and sustainable growth,” said Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “The Addis Ababa Action Agenda puts a strong emphasis on equity, on reaching the most vulnerable. Combined with the Sustainable Development Goals, which also give clear priority to the interests of children and equity, we now have a robust, new global foundation for making the world fit for children.”

However, UNICEF warns against complacency and calls upon the international community to build on the commitments made in Addis Ababa by:

  • Prioritising investments in basic universal services such as education, social safety nets, health care, immunisation, water and sanitation and child protection;
  • Identifying and targeting groups and communities with the greatest needs;
  • Progressively mobilising additional resources to address financing gaps in underfunded SDG priority areas with the greatest impacts for children such as nutrition, children protection and early childhood development;
  • Improving reporting on child-related spending including documenting how much funding goes to groups or areas with greater incidences of child deprivation.

“We must make sure that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are at the heart of the SDGs, and at the heart of how we go about mobilising the financing that is needed to achieve these goals,” Brandt said. “We have a unique opportunity to translate commitments and promise and into action. To turn rhetoric into practical results for all children.”

Happy Fathers Day

Today is Father’s Day, and we want to celebrate the strength of paternal bonds with this selection of beautiful images from our Flickr of fathers spending time with their children.

Model Farmer Wondossen and his son and sister outside their latrine in Romey Village-Amhara Region
Model Farmer Wondossen and his son and sister outside their latrine in Romey Village-Amhara Region ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/ Getachew
Father and son at the Derer Ebija Health Post
Father and son at the Derer Ebija Health Post where they have come to get the newly introduced PCV vaccine. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2011/Lemma

 

A young family wade across Shebele river in Gode Town in Somali region of Ethiopia
A young family wade across Shebele river in Gode Town in Somali region of Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose
Ali Faraa, 57, walks his daughter Hussini ali Faraa, 8, to Awash city ABEC (Alternative Base Education Center)
Ali Faraa, 57, walks his daughter Hussini ali Faraa, 8, to Awash city ABEC (Alternative Base Education Center) ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

 

Ibro Bekeri Yusef feeds therapeutic milk F75 to his severely malnourished five-year-old daughter Khesna
Ibro Bekeri Yusef feeds therapeutic milk F75 to his severely malnourished five-year-old daughter Khesna ©UNICEF
A child sits on his father’s shoulders as they wait for food at a drought relief centre in the north-eastern town of Bati.
A child sits on his father’s shoulders as they wait for food at a drought relief centre in the north-eastern town of Bati. ©UNICEF

10,000 women run to empower a nation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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10,000 women are expected to take part in the 2015 Women First 5 km race, taking place in Addis Ababa on 15th March 2015.

The race’s motto is “empower women, empower a nation”. The UN in Ethiopia is working in partnership with the Great Ethiopian Run to promote the role of women in development and call for women to be given the same socio-economic opportunities as men.

These messages are being promoted in many ways by the UN in Ethiopia. In November 2014, 40,000 people celebrated women by taking part in the 14th Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s largest 10 kilometre run, and the role of women was also promoted during the regional race in Gambella earlier this year.

Ethiopia is on track to achieve many of its targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but it has a long way to go to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. These are factors that are recognized as critical in the growth of any rapidly developing country, like Ethiopia.

Progress is still lagging on MDG 3 – to promote gender equality and empower women and MDG 5 – improve maternal health.

That is why UNICEF Ethiopia is joining with other government and non-government organisations to call for a greater commitment to the fulfillment of women’s rights, improving their access to equal opportunities and resources within and outside their homes.

UNICEF Ethiopia renews its Ambassadorship with Hannah Godefa

12 January, 2015, Addis Ababa: Today, UNICEF Ethiopia renewed its ambassadorship with seventeen year old Hannah Godefa, a citizen of Canada with Ethiopian origin, at a signing ceremony held at its premises. The event was attended by Hannah Godefa, UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia, Hannah’s father Ato Godefa Asegahegn, H.E Roman Gebreselassie, Chief of government whip at the House of People’s Representative, W/ro Tsehay Bahta, Head of Capacity Building and Social Affairs Standing Committee of Addis Ababa City Administration Council, H.E Mr. David Usher, Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia, Ms. Elizabeth Hailu, Manager Customer Services Ticket Offices, Ethiopian Airlines, Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge of  UNICEF Ethiopia, and members of the media.

Hannah Godefa's Ambassadorship renewal ceremony with UNICEF Ethiopia
UNICEF Ethiopia renewed its Hanah Godefa’s national ambassadorship at a signing ceremony held on 12 January 2015, at its premises, Addis Ababa. Left to right Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge of UNICEF Ethiopia and Hannah Godefa in the presence of (left to right at the back standing)- W/ro Tsehay Bahta, Head of Capacity Building and Social Affairs Standing Committee of Addis Ababa City Administration Council, H.E W/ro Roman Gebreselassie, Chief of Government Whip at the House of People’s Representative, H.E. Mr. David Usher, Ambassador of Canada and Ms. Elizabeth Hailu, Manager Customer Services Ticket Offices. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

Speaking on the occasion, Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge of UNICEF Ethiopia said, “I’m delighted to announce that today, UNICEF Ethiopia renews the Ambassadorship of Hannah Godefa as its National Ambassador to Ethiopia for two more years. Hannah is a role model for children, her peers and especially girls. Since her appointment in January 2013, we have been proud of her commitment and dedication to advocate alongside Government for women’s and children’s issue in Ethiopia and globally. She is a testimony to what is possible if one is determined.”

At the signing ceremony, Hannah on her part said, “When I remember my first visit to a UNICEF Ethiopia project over two years ago in Hawassa, I immediately think of the smiling faces of the teenage girls I now more closely resemble. They sat down and had a traditional coffee ceremony with me, explaining the benefits of the alternative income programme they were participating in and their life stories. I was in complete awe of the way they transformed their limitations and hardships in life into opportunities and sustainable success. Most of all, I was amazed at how they credited UNICEF for supplementing their personal achievement in the initiative. It was at that moment I knew, UNICEF is an organization and family I wholeheartedly wanted to be a part of.”

Hannah Godefa's Ambassadorship renewal ceremony with UNICEF Ethiopia
UNICEF Ethiopia renewed Hannah Godefa’s national ambassadorship at a signing ceremony held on 12 January 2015, at its premises, Addis Ababa. Left to right Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge of UNICEF Ethiopia and Hannah Godefa. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

During her ambassadorship, Hannah has been engaged in numerous advocacy activities representing UNICEF-giving a voice to women and children globally. On these occasions, she has served as keynote speaker, a panellist and a moderator with high level government officials, business leaders and advocates from the non-profit sector. Her participation and contribution at the World Economic Forum in January 2014, with H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, Co-Chair, MDG Advocacy Group and world leaders that focused on issues very close to her heart – innovation on investing in girl’s education – has been exceptional.

H.E. Mr. David Usher, Ambassador of Canada on his part underscored, “As we celebrate the fifty years diplomatic relations between Canada and Ethiopia, Hannah stands an ambassador not only to UNICEF but also to Ethiopians, Canadians as well as the Ethiopian Diaspora.”

Ms. Elizabeth Hailu, Manager Customer Services Ticket Offices, Ethiopian Airlines said, “As part of our corporate social responsibility, it is our duty to give back to the society. Today, we pledge once more to stand by Hannah to support her by providing free tickets to wherever her destination takes her to undertake her humanitarian functions.”