The daily mail campaign about overseas aid has been getting me hot under the collar recently. But what really gets me is the lack of information. Everyone knows that Britain gave £5.2 million to an Ethiopian girl band… the Ethiopian Spice girls.
Well that is not true, we gave the money to an organisation called Girl Effect and part of their programme PART OF THEIR PROGRAMME is the promotion of this band called Yegna.
I will return to the girl band and the reasons for their existence.
Now I am not an expert on aid, but this is the way I see it. There are different types of aid and some are short term and some are long term. Ultimately the aim must be to eliminate the need for aid, a bit of a John Lennon dream but that is what it must surely be.
The short term aid is the relief packages and the tents and blankets, very important if you are in a famine or a war situation but it is only going to be a solution for the moment, no one wants to be giving or receiving these sorts of handouts for the rest of their lives.
Then there is what I see as medium term aid, this is the clean water programmes, vaccinations, setting someone up with a small plough and a bag of seeds, that sort of thing and this is what most of us probably understand as aid.
Finally we have long term aid, which is moving us closer to the ‘John Lennon dream’. This involves changing attitudes and creating aspirations in the local communities so that they move out of the dependency culture.
In many parts of the world, women are very much second class citizens, well not even citizens, more like slaves. There is forced child marriage, genital mutilation, early teen pregnancy, domestic violence and a life of domestic drudgery. This is obviously bad or the women but it is also bad for the country. 50% of their potential is not being utilised.
If the mind set which allows this situation to continue can be changed, then long term and permanent benefits will accrue to the women, and indeed the men and the country as a whole.
Girl effect was set up 10 years ago, with support from Nike, the No Vo foundation and the UN. It is now independent of Nike. Its work is not just in Ethiopia, however in Ethiopia as part of its programme to change attitudes to young girls it has set up and publicised this girl band. The band is inspirational to you girls and it is also much admired by the young men. So girls are questioning the traditional role of early marriage, early pregnancy etc….84% of Ethiopia girls do not go to secondary school. Also men are thinking maybe there might be more to a wife than a baby machine. Changing attitudes brings long term solutions.
This is what the aid is about…. It never gets said, even the BBC seem to accept the Daily mail propaganda. And last night on question time there was a section on aid and Piers Morgan trotted out the £5 million for a girl band line so that was the final straw.
OK if you do not agree with aid that’s up to you but at least know the facts. If you are interested then have a look at the Girl Effect/Yegna web site