Bogalech Gebre 1960-2019 a woman of action


Ethiopian scientist and activist Dr Bogalech Gebre, most commonly known as Boge was born at Kembata Tembaro southern Ethiopia in 1960 to a family of 14. Like the other girls found in Africa, Boge suffered from female genital mutilation when she was about twelve. She lost one of her elder sisters when giving birth. Since educating girls were seen as unnecessary in most parts of the country, Boge attend her school secretly and later attained her high school diploma at Addis Ababa. She went on to study Microbiology and Physiology in Israel and then in the United States, where she became Fulbright scholar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and later at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Independent Newspaper characterized her as “the woman who began the rebellion of Ethiopian women.” Bogalech once said, changing a woman’s status quo became my obsession, and striving to stop the horrendous practices of female genital mutilation (FGM), abduction, domestic violence. There were many untold stories putting girls’ lives from birth to adulthood at risk.
Along with her sister, Fikirte Gebre, Boge founded KMG Ethiopia, formerly called Kembatti Mentti Gezzima-Tope in 1997. Which called on Kembata women to stand together. Boge says, “Enabling women starts with showing them their self-worth.” KMG’s strategy is to link the day to day practical needs of the community with their long term strategy in areas of Ethiopia where illiteracy levels and FGM are high. The organization believes strongly in integrating economic empowerment and environmental rehabilitation, these programs provide tangible, visible improvements in the lives of the people it serves and succeeds in reducing cases of FGM from 100% of newborn girls to less than 3% in parts of Ethiopia. KMG works in 26 woredas of SNNP and Oromia on relating and improving lives of more than 2.8 million people directly and indirectly, 70 percent of these are women. Boge also is known for greening Durame, more than 10million plants have been grown to help the environment recover.
Boge was awarded the 2005 North-South Prize and in 2007 the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. She also won the King Baudouin Prize in 2014 in Belgium for confronting; “culturally entrenched taboo subjects.” As Boge says “In the long run, stronger women create stronger communities, stronger women create a stronger nation, and stronger women create a stronger Africa.”
Bogalech died on November 5.