Yegna girl-band: harnessing the power of creativity for social change

All over the world, young women are rising up – Exercising their rights to education; saying ‘no’ to early marriage and unintended pregnancy; and demanding equal employment opportunities. There is still a long way to go, but young women like Ethiopian girl-band, Yegna are paving the way to ensure that future generations of women and girls are even more empowered and supported. To find out more about their work harnessing the power of creativity for social change, we caught up with Teref; Zebiba; Eyerusalem; and Rahel as they endeavour to raise awareness of some of the biggest issues facing young women in Ethiopia and beyond!

“Girls in our country face serious challenges every day, including early marriage, harassment and violence. Given these challenges, it is not surprising that many fail to reach their potential and drop out of school or get married very young. It is so important that we start breaking down the barriers that are holding girls and their communities back. If more girls are encouraged to reach their potential, it is good for everyone!

Yegna is an acting and pop-group that uses the creative arts to raise awareness of issues such as migration, abuse, and school drop-out – issues that young girls in Ethiopia really face. The members of Yegna perform in a radio drama and a talk show but we also go on roadshows in order to bring our messages to the Addis and Amhara regions and to meet with young women, men and their parents.

Using the arts to communicate a message is so effective because we’re not preaching or telling people what to do, but providing young women with positive role-models and appealing to them through the things they love – music, drama and real-life stories. This has more strength than you can possibly imagine.

Yegna not only provides young women with an opportunity to come together to discuss challenges, but we also look at ways that together, those challenges can be overcome. Our aim is that, through doing this, we start to change how our society views girls and that this message is then passed on to future generations so that the impact is even bigger.

We want girls from Ethiopia, where I am from, and from everywhere else in the world to continue supporting and empowering each other. Let’s not let anything hold us back. Be brave – the future is looking bright!”