Bogaletch Gebre – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this powerhouse woman leader, Ethiopian activist Bogaletch Gebre has won an international prize for her campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM)..

 

WOMAN of ACTION™

 
 
 
 

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Bogaletch Gebre

 
 

Bogaletch Gebre, Founder and Executive Director of KMG Ethiopia wins the 2012-2013 King Baudouin African Development prize.

She was awarded the King Baudouin Prize in Belgium for confronting “culturally entrenched taboo subjects“, the selection committee said.

female-genital-mutilationAlso known as female circumcision, female genital mutilation is practised mainly in communities in Africa and the Middle East. It is the deliberate, non-medical removal or cutting of female genitalia and is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl “properly”, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. In many communities it is also believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist “illicit” sexual acts.

It is usually carried out by local traditional practitioners without anaesthesia, using instruments such as knives, scissors and razors and causes long-term severe health problems, such as infertility, childbirth complications, cysts, recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections – not to mention the short-term effects such as severe pain, shock and haemorrhaging.

Ms Bogaletch helped reduce cases of FGM from 100% of newborn girls to less than 3% in parts of Ethiopia, it said.

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FGM is practiced mainly in communities in Africa and the Middle East.

Also known as female circumcision, it is seen as a traditional rite of passage and is used culturally to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable.

It typically involves removing the clitoris, and can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems.

KMG-Ethiopia is an indigenous Resident Charity Organization founded in 1997 by two sisters, who are Bogaltech and Fikrte Geber, with the goal of helping to create an environment where the values and rights of women are recognized and where their talents and wisdom are nurtured.

The organization was founded with the belief that if women are empowered and their talents nurtured, the lives of both men and women would improve. KMG-Ethiopia’s effort began in the region of Kembatta- Tembaro (Alaba Zone). Currently KMG operates in 24 of Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPRS) and Oromia district reaching out to more than 481,289 direct and 2,859,500 indirect beneficiaries, 70% of whom are women.

Initially, KMG-Ethiopia’s intervention was focused on eliminating sanctioned violence against women and girls, such as female genital mutilation, bridal abduction and other customary practices harmful to girls and women. In the decade since, KMG- Ethiopia focus has expanded to include, concerns deeply interwoven with gender inequalities: economic enfranchisement, education, reproductive health services, HIV/ AIDS, environmental degradation, and small infrastructure development.

fgmBefore it began its intervention, KMG conducted a baseline study in 1998 that showed that 100% of all girls in the then Kembatta, Tembaro and Alaba Zone had been subjected to female genital mutilation. A 2008 UNICEF survey of attitudes in Kembatta, Tembaro Zone showed an amazing inversion: 97% of all men and women opposed female genital mutilation. We estimate that hundreds of thousands of girls have been spared genital cutting. The change is so great, in fact, that across our region, young men now seek uncut girls to marry and whole communities, including children, openly discuss these once-taboo subjects at open-air meetings once limited to only elders. Over 2000 pool of trained facilitators work among communities and every community keep tabs on every uncut girl in its neighborhood.

Together with its communities and partners, KMG has shown remarkable results in preventing and mitigating social and economic problems affecting women and children with a particular emphasis on violence against women: female genital mutilation/excision (FGM/E), bride abduction, widow inheritance, early marriage, and HIV/AIDS. Consequently, the prevalence of FGM/E has been significantly reduced not just by fiat or laws, but by the consent of communities that have learned the reasons these customary practices are harmful. Today, they make community sanctions and self-monitor adherence to bans on such cutting. Behavioral and attitudinal transformation has also taken place on prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, a topic long considered taboo. Today, people in both Christian and Muslim communities go even in groups to undergo blood tests. Marriage without prior testing for HIV has become unacceptable in both Muslim and Christian institutions.

Female-Education-2The organization has also contributed to the national and international efforts to prevent and control HIV/AIDS and eliminate harmful customary practices that affect the well-being of women and girls. In 2002, in collaboration with UNDP, KMG piloted a framework of social mobilization tool known as Community Capacity Enhancement-through Community Conversation (CCE-CC). The Ethiopian government adopted these methodologies and, on April 16, 2004, launched nationally where KMG was contracted as a national co-coordinator and trainer during startup. Currently, this methodology is being used as a primary tool for prevention and control of the pandemicnationwide. KMG’s comprehensive model is also increasingly being used by NGOs in their work against FGM around the country.

KMG’s strategy is to link the day to day practical needs of the community with their long term strategic issues. One of the glaring needs was the lack of mother and children health services to mitigate maternal and child mortality and morbidity. To fill this need as much as possible; KMG constructed the Mother and Child Health Centre in Durame, the capital of the Zone to contribute to the achievements of the millennium development goals. Operating on a shoestring budget, KMG is able to save the lives of mothers and their babies, repair prolapsed uterine reconstruction of scarred vaginas and provide point-of-care sexual and reproductive health education and family planning to women and their spouses.

Under its program on education KMG also supports community schools by constructing classrooms, providing desks, chairs and tables, improving teaching and learning environment and opening Alternative Basic Education Centers. Women who have participated in its capacity-building programs are empowered to participate in public affairs and make decisions at different levels. Outcast groups such as the “Fuga” communities are now started claiming both their dignity and humanity.

The organization believes strongly in integrating economic empowerment and environmental rehabilitation into all that it does, and these programs provide tangible, visible improvements in the lives of the people it serves. Efforts are underway to reinforce the existing livelihood, environmental regeneration and infrastructure development programs. The Livelihood and Women Economic Empowerment program focuses on providing vocational training in income-generating schemes, entrepreneurship development and on organizing women and their communities into cooperatives with linkages to markets. The environmental rehabilitation program is focusing around the reforestation of the largest and the major water shade in the region, Mount Hambericho, which has almost mystic status for local people. Small scale infrastructure development schemes like rural bridges, alternative energy and construction material, potable water systems, community nurseries have also been developed, creating community ownership to the programs.

“Change takes commitment, not a miracle.”
bog kmg

We are confident that through time, and with the engagement of our staff, facilitators, stakeholders and relevant national and local groups and representatives, we will achieve our equality and diversity goals, embedding gender equality, eliminating unlawful sex discrimination and harassment, and promoting gender equality in all that we do.

Our Vision: A society where women are free from all forms of discrimination and violence and are able to attain, equity and equality for themselves and societies at large.

Our Mission: To realize the socio-economic well being and development of women and marginalized communities through integrated and sustainable interventions that systemically link economy, Society, and Ecology

We strive to realize our mission through:

  • Socio-economic empowerment of women, girls and marginalized social groups
  • Enhancing community capacity towards achieving sustainable eco-systems and livelihoods
  • Community sensitization and mobilization on HCPs, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, particularly the reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.
  • Fostering effective participation and ownership of local communities and CBOs in their own development and,
  • Mobilizing the support and strategic partnership of government agencies and our development stakeholders.

Goal: To do away with age old and deep-rooted customary practices that discriminate against women and girls and marginalized social groups and instead promote societal values, norms, and cultural practices that enhance social equality in every aspect, dignity, and harmony; to promote the socio-economic and ecological development of communities and enable them to become owners of their development, and; to serve women, girls, deprived social groups, grassroots community-based organizations (CBOs), the development community, and the public at large as a knowledge base.

OUR VALUES

KMG Ethiopia apprehend the splendid values of equity and equality mainly that of gender equality and equity and respect of human wellbeing especially that of women and children.

It also strongly believes in community participation and vigorously supports their initiatives and promotes it. KMG Ethiopia has the motto that “Changes takes Commitmentnot a miracle” and always applies it to the realization of its goal-Gender equality.

“Women as Agents of Change” with Dr Bogaletch Gebre

Our future direction

The systematic organizational analysis has led KMG to identify the following strategic issues as critical for the success of its programs

Consolidate the achievements and ensure sustainability and impact of programs.

Scale -up KMG’s good practices and approaches and reach out to women, girls and marginalized communities in other parts of the country.

Institutionally reposition KMG as a vibrant Ethiopian civil society organization that is organizationally and program-matically agile and financially sustainable.

Achievement

Highlight Of Our Key Impacts Of Our Implemented Programs: Outcomes Achievements To Date In Eliminating HCP And Promoting Women Economic Empowerment And Sustainable Environment To Ensure Gender Equity

  • According to UNICEF Study in June 2008, FGM as a ritual has been totally abandon & has decrease by 97% as a practice in KTZ
  • Women and girls are far more self-assertive and command far better respect and higher status in their communities today.
  • Visible social transformation has been observed in knowledge, attitude and practice of GBV’s and HCPs among Kembatta-Tembaro communities;
  • Marriageability status of uncircumcised girls is no more an issue as young men choose to marry uncircumcised ones;
  • GBVs like bridal abduction and widow inheritance are no more a threat to girls and others like, rape, polygamy, domestic violence have significantly decreased;
  • Women have recognized their entitlements in their communities; built confidence & have become active citizens;
  • Communities (men and women) are upholding the gains & stand firmly against the practices of FGM & other GBVs through enforcing their own social contracts;
  • The law enforcement bodies are upholding women’s rights-cases of GBV are increasingly reported by communities & perpetuators are criminalized- CWPUs and WAOs have enhanced capacity of delivering free legal aid and counseling to survivors of violence;
  • Quite good number of house wives have educated themselves & assumed political positions at local & national levels;
  • Women have begun to developed confidence to say ‘NO’ to violence and making decisions that affect their lives.
  • Hundreds of thousands of girls have been spared from FGM and tens of thousands have organized themselves as uncut girls clubs becoming social forces to stop the cycle of violence and ensure their personal agency. Circumcisers have become activists of the movement against FGM and GBVs
  • Potter communities are increasingly securing their human entitlement and dignity as well as their rights of participating and benefiting from social services such as health and CBOs such as Idirs and Iqubs.
  • The potters have made their own social contracts to enhance their harmony with other communities
  • They totally stopped HCPs such as FGM and polygamy where they were the circumcisers in KTZ
  • Government Line Departments (LDs) are taking initiatives to mainstream gender in the efforts of development
  • People undergo VCT commonly and marriage without VCT is unacceptable in both Christian and Muslim institutions.
  • Community based care and support has become a trend and PLHA have engaged in self-supportive activities /schemes
  • KMG has contributed to the national and international efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and eliminate GBVs through piloting, deepening and training of CCE-CC.
  • The changes in new scale up areas like west Arsi, Guraghe and Gamogofa are even faster than ever. Communities and CBOs such as Shanacha of the West Arsi have declared their determinations to stop FGM, dowry and other forms of GBV.
  • Young men are marrying uncut girls without paying dowries; women are demanding their right to justice – in some areas like Boreda of Gamogofa zone courts have special days to address cases of GBV and providing service free of any charges
  • Women’s decision making at household level on issues such as number of children the family wants to have, ownership, use and control of property is significantly changing.
  • With enhanced participation and ownership of women and the community in general, more than 7million trees have been planted on the Mount Hambericho. This has enabled women to have easy access to water springs, grass and fire woods
  • Farmers around the mountain have been engaged in alternative income generation and benefiting from the revival of the bush to rear small ruminants
  • The lives of many mothers and children (95,454 since March 2007) have been saved, through the MCH center in Durame.
  • More than 17,000 households and youth (84.2%women including marginalized potters women) have been organized in different groups of income generation schemes including SACCOs(Saving and Credit Cooperatives) have ensured women’s capacity to secure livelihoods independent of men and say ‘no’ to violence winning shared decision making and control of household assets with their spouses.
  • We have increased women’s and communities access to social services which had enabled girls to go to school and women’s participation in outdoor activities such as SACCOs.
  • Developing standard community mobilization tools & management strategies to scale up the best practices to other areas of the country and the continent too.
  • Many NGOs in Ethiopia and some countries of east and west Africa are adopting our community mobilization strategies to address similar problems
  • Based on our SPM (Strategic Plan Management) and OD (Organizational Development) study KMG Ethiopia has been steadily building its financial system, PME, program management capacity and preparing itself for the new role as a national player
  • KMG commands huge trust, respect and appreciation among the communities it works with
  • KMG Ethiopia has built strong reputation as a national resource base on grassroots community mobilization on HIV/AIDS, SRH (Sexual Reproductive Health), HCPs and GBVs
  • Government LDs in Kembatta-Tembaro, Wolayita and Gurage Zones and regional gov’t in the (Southern Nation Nationality People Regional State) SNNPRS widely recognize KMG’s work (text book)
  • KMG’s programs are well aligned with the Country’s Development policies, GTP(Growth and Transformation Plan) & MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)
  • The strategic linkages that KMG created between ecology, economy and society allows it to operate under changing policy and legal environment.

 

 

 

 

A Celebration of Women

welcomes this visionary into our global Alumni with open arms, looking forward to future collaborations in bettering the lives of all women.

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Brava Bogaletch!

 

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