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Meet Yegna, The All-Girl Band That's Changing Ethiopia


Meet Yegna, The All-Girl Band That's Changing Ethiopia

Words: Ashley Poag

We absolutely love black girls on a mission. That’s why we’re so excited about this Ethiopian music group.

This week Upworthy introduced us to Yegna, a girl band everyone should get to know and support. These five young women have set out to change many of the issues Ethiopian women face through their music. Yegna, which means "ours" in Amharic, understands that in order to better their country they must empower girls.

Girls living in Ethiopia deal with a variety of obstacles to living a happy and healthy life: Two out of three women in Ethiopia believe wife beating is justified, two out of five say they don’t have friends, and one out of three can’t read and don’t go to school.

The members of Yegna—Teref Kassahun (Melat, 26), Lemlem Haile Michael (Mimi, 26), Zebiba Girma (Emuye, 22), Eyerusalem Kelemework (Sara, 27) and Rahel Getu (Lemlem, 22)—want to change all of that. They have put together a girl band, radio drama, and talk show to provide encouragement and education on self-care by using real-life scenarios. Yegna understands that girls are one of Ethiopia’s greatest untapped resources. By empowering as many girls as they can through their words and music, they want to improve their audience’s economic and social outlook.

Their shows have been a success; Yegna reaches 5 million listeners (even Ethiopian men tune in to listen to the Spice Girls-like group).

The only requirement to attend Yegna’s debut concert was to be a girl and to bring a girl, the Guardian reports. During the concert teenage girls sat in the VIP section typically reserved for government officials as the crowd sang along to the bands single "Abet": "We are here, we will not be silenced."

The concert was arranged by The Girl Effect’s Girl Hub, a foundation working within Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nigeria to empower girls. Helen Kirdir, a member of the concert promotion team expressed the need for groups and concerts like this. "When I explained to people that this was a celebration of Ethiopian girls they loved it, because there is nothing for girls here.”

Yegna’s unique approach and commitment to improving the lives of young women of color is definitely something to sing about.


Ashley Poag is mater mea's intern and an aspiring multimedia journalist.