Ethiopian Journalist Melkamsew Puts Women At Show’s Heart

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Ethiopian journalist Melkamsew Solomon broadcasts a weekly radio program, Yimechish, which focuses on rural women in Ethiopia.

But for some listeners, Yimechish — an Amharic slang term which roughly translates to “You go, girl” — is too niche and too narrowly focused.

“We get told, ‘You keep talking about women all the time, what about men’s issues? Is it only women who have problems in this country?’ They say that we have a lot of other societal problems. Some people say it’s luxury to talk about this,” Melkamsew said.

Yimechish, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been running for the past four years, highlighting issues that can improve the lives of women in areas of health and education.

In Ethiopia, most women — like men — live in rural areas, and making space for their voices is important, says Melkamsew.

“We get the stories of these women to be heard,” she said. “We show how hard their life is, how they don’t have any help … how far they go to fetch water, how much they carry by themselves to the market, they don’t have any help. We also do stories on what they could accomplish if used this time working on something that can earn them money.”

People have that “aha” moment when they hear these stories, she says.

Yimechish has received positive feedback from male audience members amidst the pushback.

Bethlehem Negash, a member of the Ethiopian Media Women’s Association, says that women traditionally don’t have a voice in the media in Ethiopia.