By the time they turn 16, many young women in the U.S. are in high school, perhaps looking at colleges or learning how to drive.
Life is far less opportunistic for young women in Ethiopia, who face a heartbreaking choice before they even turn 16: they must choose between marriage or face intense manual labor and sexual slavery if they leave home, ECPAT International reports. It’s a life doomed for violence and injustice.
According to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change , state-led industrial drive has transformed Ethiopia into one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, yet over a third of its 99 million citizens still live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day.
In the Horn of Africa, disease, drought, hunger and conflict has plunged many into impoverished conditions. Girls are often regarded as a financial burden on their families and expected to drop out of school to get married or find employment, Reuters reports.
“When a child is born a girl in Ethiopia … she is born into servitude. She is literally there to serve the family,” Bogaletch Gebre, who grew up in the 1960s in Kembatta, southern Ethiopia, told Reuters. “It’s a tragedy.”
These girls don’t have to suffer.
The Bright Future program, or “Biruh Tesfa” in Amharic, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia helps low-income women and girls become assimilated into society by providing them academic education, life skills, and reproductive education.
Bright Future helps these girls build their social support and improve skills to prevent HIV infection, while mentors help the girls realize their true potential. The project uses a combination of house-to-house recruitment, formation of girls’ groups by female mentors, and education on HIV/AIDS, life skills, and basic literacy.
According to a paper published in “Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies,” Bright Future is leading to positive changes, and showing how other well-designed programs can reach and effectively support the most vulnerable girls in the poorest areas, such as child domestic workers and rural–urban migrants.
Stand up for women in Ethiopia. Click below and demand the UN officially support the Bright Future Program as part of its efforts to prevent violence against women.Whizzco