Source: New Business Ethiopia
Ethiopian women’s rights activist, Bogaletch Gebre, or “Boge” as she is known to friends and colleagues, has been awarded the 2012-2013 King Baudouin African Development Prize for transforming women’s lives by developing an innovative approach to changing community mindsets on a range of culturally entrenched issues. 


Founder of KMG Ethiopia Bogaletch Gebre

Beyond its monetary value of 150.000 euros, the Prize offers its winners unique opportunities to increase their visibility and promote their cause to international audiences, according to the press statement the organization dispatched.

She is recognized by the King Baudouin Foundation for her pioneering approach to empowering women and local communities and for her determination to combat Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia.

Boge’s approach is holistic and emphasizes the critical link between the political, economic and social problems that affect women’s lives. As such, Boge is the perfect recipient for the The King Baudouin African Development Prize, which supports pioneering development work in Africa. It rewards initiatives which stand out as the best in their field, significantly improve the quality of life of the populations they serve, and empower local communities.

Boge founded Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma (KMG) Ethiopia with the idea that people cannot “be developed” but can only develop themselves—rather than taking a “one size fits all” approach, KMG models must be tailored to the local context. 

In this vein, Boge organizes community conversations to confront culturally entrenched taboo subjects and challenge harmful customary practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and bridal abductions. By implementing this approach across communities in Ethiopia, Boge and KMG lowered the incidence of FGM in ten years from 100 percent to less than 3 percent of newborn girls in the areas where they work.

The success of Boge’s approach in Ethiopia has led to many international organizations replicating the model. UNICEF recommended Boge’s and KMG’s approach to ending FGM be used as a model for other African nations. UNDP commissioned KMG to coordinate the expansion of its community intervention model related to HIV/AIDS.

The same model was also adopted by the Ethiopian government. Based on the success of KMG’s community-based approach, Oxfam Canada engaged KMG to pilot their Asset Based Community Development program. 

“Boge’s work to empower women and fight harmful but entrenched cultural practices like FGM is an example of the kind of community driven yet scalable approach to development that will transform the African continent. Her innovative approach coupled with her service to underserved communities makes her a perfect fit for the inaugural King Baudouin African Development Prize,” said Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa and Member of the Prize selection committee.  

KMG’s operational areas are located in regions where many inhabitants are illiterate and lack access to basic needs, including electricity. Before Boge started work in these regions, including in Kembatta where she was born, FGM was endemic, reproductive health services virtually non-existent and bridal abductions widespread.  

Boge received the Prize at the Royal Palace in Brussels, at a ceremony attended by King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium and other esteemed guests such as Lady Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who nominated Boge for the King Baudouin Prize.

“I am humbled to receive such a prestigious award,” says Boge. “It speaks not only to the work of KMG but also to the commitment of the communities we serve. I look forward to the opportunity the Prize will bring to spread awareness of the profound yet unnecessary difficulties women face in Ethiopia. Most importantly, I hope others across Africa are inspired by KMG’s success and realize that together we can revolutionize the life prospects of African women.”

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