On July 2016 Youth For Change Ethiopia Team held a very successful meeting with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Demeke Mekonnen at his office marking the team’s ongoing endeavor to align higher government officials and influencers with the team activities to end FGM and CEFM. Mr. Demeke was part of the 2014 Girls Summit held in UK when YFC was first introduced.
Based on a situational analysis, the YFC team outlined to the Minister that both FGM and CEFM in Ethiopia has seen a decline in recent years which his government has also shown commitments on the matter – including specifically to end both practices by 2025 recalling what Mr. Demeke himself had expressed at the 2014 Girls Summit in United Kingdom but also in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-2) framework of Ethiopia.
Mr. Demeke has highly commended the effort being exerted by the youth team in order to build upon the momentum created at the Girl Summit and he said “Youth For Change is a true model of the community wing”.
“The commitment of Youth For Change is very treasured,” he emphasized adding that the agenda YFC is holding has been mainstreamed with Ethiopia’s second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-2).
“Given the effort you are putting in place you should assume gradual progress to come on the matter for it is mainly linked with the tradition of a community, religion and other factors.” He then stressed the main issue there should be “educating the community”.
Mr. Demeke also clearly admired YFC’s effort being made in Afar Regional State and he advised the team members to be creative and establish continuous engagement than putting a single time intervention.
The Minister’s pledge
As Deputy Chairperson of the ruling party – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – Mr. Demeke had underscored that the agenda YFC is working on is not only his government’s priority area but also a major agenda for the ruling party.
Mr. Demeke Mekonnen is also a Chairperson of the ‘National Committee’ organized to facilitate national multifaceted tasks. Accordingly, he showed the keenness of the committee to support activities of Youth For Change through various government offices within the committee.
“Youth based organizations in the country do not only be scored under single basket but also in various alignments,” he noted that, YFC can also look to link with regional youth associations and schools where he said one fourth of the Ethiopian population is currently at school.
The Deputy Prime Minster has avowed that full support to be given to YFC Ethiopia and directed his immediate assistant to provide the necessary support in linking the team to the needed government organ and office.
He also forwarded the team to a better working platform by targeting other specific ministries and offices under the political leadership.
We, the YFC team members also expressed to the Deputy Prime Minister that, we understand the policies and laws in place at the federal level which are in line with Ethiopia’s international commitments and adequately address the issue of FGM and CEFM.
In spite of the above measures, FGM and CEFM still persist in our country. The key challenge is in the implementation of existing laws and policies and the government’s national commitment. It is for this reason that Youth for Change Ethiopia has decided to focus its efforts on addressing this implementation gap.
Youth For Change has been working with Federal Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and the respective regional Bureaus in Afar and Amhara regional states.
YFC Ethiopia’s endeavour
By the end of 2016 Youth For Change Ethiopia aims to have improved the role of Regional Youth Associations to ensure they become effective actors in the fight against FGM and CEFM. This will be achieved through working with key government actors.
Youth For Change is putting effort to amend legislation in the Afar region to bring it in line with the Federal Family Law, which brings the age of consent for marriage for girls to 18. Afar is the region in Ethiopia which have yet to adapt federal laws on CEFM and also one of the regions with the highest rate of FGM.
Over the course of our activities for the last one year mainly in Afar Regional State and Amhara Regional State we have been able to gain a number of promising results for our continued engagement in our commitment.