Bogaletch Gebre – Ethiopia

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005

Goes with ‘Assuming Authority‘.

She says: “My dream came true. I have managed to set up a social project that incorporates essential community services, such as a school, a library, a community resources center and a health advice center.”

Dr. Bogaletch Gebre – Ethiopia

She works for the Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma-Topa (KMG).

Bogaletch Gebre was the first woman from her village to receive higher education. In 1975 she set off to the United States after she won a Fulbright scholarship to study parasitology. Later, she secured another scholarship from the Israeli government to study microbiology and physiology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was the first Ethiopian woman to teach in the Faculty of Science at Addis Ababa University. She strives to improve the conditions of women in rural areas and give them access to a better life.

By Christine Keyser writes on her website Satya about Bogaletch Gebre: she is a Flash of Light, Empowering Ethiopian Women to Fight for their Rights.

Bogaletch Gebre will never forget the unspeakable day when her aunts led her trembling to the circumciser’s hut in their rural village in Ethiopia, like an innocent lamb to slaughter. The terrified six-year-old girl cried out again and again in excruciating pain as the rusty knife slashed her genitals, mutilating her young body to bind her to a life of servitude to men. In the background beyond her own muffled screams she heard her mother pleading, “I wish they would do away with this!”

But even though other village girls—including her two sisters—had died from infections from female genital mutilation, “we both knew it had to be done to make me a whole woman. It is called ‘removing the dirt,’ not circumcision,” Gebre told a hushed, sold-out auditorium at the Bioneers Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area in October. It was the first time she had ever publicly discussed the personal horror that had shaped her ambition to dedicate her life to the empowerment, education and training, and public health of Ethiopian women, and the eradication of female genital mutilation.

Through her own stubborn determination and the sacrifices of her mother who took on her household chores, Gebre became the first girl ever in her village of Zato to be educated beyond the fourth grade. She attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a full scholarship and became the first woman invited to join the science faculty at Addis Ababa University.

Years later, as a Fulbright Scholar in epidemiology and public health at the University of Massachusetts, Gebre awakened from her physical and emotional numbness and experienced rage and horror over what was done to her as a child. “I understood the purpose of female genital excision was to excise my mind, excise my ability to live my life with all my senses intact,” she said. “I was never meant to be educated, to think for myself, because I am a woman from a small village in Ethiopia. It’s a system that looks at a woman as an object of servitude. She starts serving her family at the age of six—before she even knows who she is. When she marries she is literally sold to the highest bidder. From one servitude to another servitude, we are exploited.”

Now Gebre—whose name Bogaletch means “a flash of light”—is determined that other Ethiopian girls have the same opportunities for education and self-fulfillment. “In Ethiopia we have as much an education famine as a food famine. To finish high school in rural Ethiopia is really like getting a Ph.D. in this country,” she explained.
(Read the rest of this article on Satya).

“What is good for women is good for the community,” Dr. Gebre declares as she promotes her non-profit organization, KMG (The Kembatti Mentti Gezzima ‚ Tope). Literally translated it means “Women of Kembatta pooling their efforts to work together.” Located on a lush 7.4 acre land donated by the township of Durame in southern Ethiopia, close to where she grew up as a child, the Kembatta women’s self-help center stands complete with an Administrative Center, Cafeteria, Skills Training Center, Women’s Dialogue House, Library Resource Center, Heritage Center, and a Round House. Her dream realized, Dr. Bogaletch Gebre could now focus on hot issues affecting women’s health, livelihood, education and environment. “What I discovered in our work,” she says, “is not changing the whole society at once, but to change one person at a time. And it works.” This oasis is a far cry from the township she knew as a girl in the village of Zato.

Daughter of a farmer, Bogaletch was taught how to read and write by a relative; she would study by the campfire at night after completing her daily house chores and responsibilities. In a village where the education of girls was rarely encouraged, Bogaletch’s father was reluctant to allow his daughter to continue with her primary school education. Occasionally, she was given permission and she would willingly make the six-mile run to and from school. “I would never dream of complaining,” she says, “I felt fortunate; one of the chosen few.” “Demands at home kept me away from school for weeks, sometimes months,” she continues, “but still I skipped grades, completing four levels in three years.” She became the first girl in her village to be educated beyond the fourth grade. By the time she was nine she was reading and translating court documents for her father, a task he had previously paid others to do for him. She helped people in her community write their court applications free of charge. “As a sign of respect in Kambatta tradition, a father is called after his first-born son, and a mother after her first-born daughter,” she explains, “Imagine his surprise when my fatherís peers started calling him ëFather of Bogaletch.”
(read the rest of this article on Tadias online).

In Portugueese: la etíope Bogaletch Gebre, es una conocida activista de los Derechos Humanos y presidenta del Kembatta Women’s Self Help Center, una organización fundada en 1997 que defiende los derechos de las mujeres y lucha contra las prácticas de mutilación genital femenina, de las que ella fue víctima.

Gebre fue la primera mujer que entró en la Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Addis Abeba. También estudió en la Universidad Hebraica de Jerusalén y en la Universidad de Massachussets, en Estados Unidos. Además de defender los derechos de las mujeres, Gebre participó en varias campañas de recogida de fondos para ayudar a las víctimas del hambre en Etiopía.

in french: Le prix Nord-Sud a été décerné le 21 novembre 2005 par le Conseil de l’Europe, à Lisbonne. Il distingue pour le Nord l’action du chanteur Bob Geldof et, pour le Sud, celle de Mme Bogaletch Gebre, fondatrice en 1997 de l’ONG éthiopienne de défense des droits des femmes KMG, Kembatta Women’s self help. Mme Bogaletch Gebre a contribué par son action à faire à peu près complètement disparaître les mutilations sexuelles féminines dans sa région d’origine, le Kembatta, au sud-ouest de l’Ethiopie.

Le ministère des Affaires étrangères a décidé en 2005 de subventionner la manifestation que Mme Bogaletch Gebre organise chaque année avec les femmes qui ont décidé d’en finir avec l’excision. Le travail de Mme Bogaletch Gebre, au-delà de sa contribution décisive à la lutte contre les mutilations sexuelles, s’étend à la défense des droits sociaux des femmes ainsi qu’à des activités dans le domaine de la santé publique et culturel. Nous nous réjouissons donc de ce que sa contribution à l’émancipation des femmes africaines ait été reconnue par le Conseil de l’Europe.

in Finnish: Bogaletch Gebre on ajanut kotimaassaan naiset oikeuksia, muun muassa vastustamalla naisten sukuelinten silpomista. 1980-luvulla Gebre keräsi perustamansa kansalaisjärjestön avulla rahaa Etiopian nälänhädän uhreille, ja vuonna 1997 hän käynnisti naisten palvelukeskuksen.

Geldof pokkasi tunnustuksen työstään myös marraskuun alussa pidetyssä MTV Music Award -tilaisuudessa, jossa Madonna ojensi Geldofille musiikkikanavan vuosittain humanitaariselle työlle jakaman Free Your Mind -palkinnon. Perusteluina oli Geldofin rooli “rockin parhaan päivän” eli Live 8 -konserttien järjestäjänä, kerrotaan Herald Sunin uutisessa.

in german: … Gebre setzt sich unter anderem gegen die Genitalverstümmelung bei Frauen ein. Der Nord-Süd-Preis, der seit 1995 vergeben wird, wird den beiden Gewinnern kommende Woche in einer feierlichen Zeremonie in Lissabon überreicht. Veranstalter ist das Nord-Süd-Zentrum des Europarats, das sich für mehr internationale Verständigung, Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit einsetzt.

links:

new dimensions;

coe.int;

kmg selfhelp;

in Portuguees;

in french;

in Finnish;

and in german.

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