THE YELLOW MOVEMENT
The Yellow Movement is an Addis Ababa University initiative began by a Law School Lecturer and a group of students to speak up for women and girls rights. It was started two and half years ago to campaign for better protection of women from Gender Based Violence. Even though groups like this are common in many parts of the world, this initiative and the simple methods it employs are the first for the University. It has now 30 core team members, both male and female, and many more volunteers.
To engage students in to taking responsibility for the change they want to see on their campus, city and ultimately their nation. To raise awareness for better treatment of women and to support female students who are in dire need of financial support to afford basic necessities as they go through College.
Two basic ideas inspire and guide our initiative. First, we understand that many great social changes and movements were begun by a small, committed group of people. And second, we believe that the most important resources needed to do this work are time and passion; and at the Yellow movement we make time and we have plenty of passion.
Affiliations and collaborations
The Yellow movement works under the umbrella of the Addis Ababa University Gender Office. It collaborates with the Addis Ababa University Communications Office, College of Law and NEWA (Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations).
Why the Color Yellow?
Initially, we were known as ‘the volunteers’, and had decided to do some work and build team spirit before selecting a name. One day as we were considering different colors for a team T-Shirt, a few of our volunteers chose the color Yellow and explained why it is the best color for us. It is bright, hopeful, it is the color of the sun and it draws attention. We want people to notice us and to ask questions as we campaign on campus, and we want them to feel inspired and imagine a better future for women as they talk to us. That is why we chose Yellow because it symbolizes a hope and belief in a brighter future.
Who can be a member?
Anyone willing to invest their time and energy to create a safer world for women and children can be a member/volunteer at the Yellow Movement.
Weekly Table Day Activism – This is our most important method of activism. It is very simple and effective. It is our response to the question, “who speaks up for women on the days between major International Events and large national conferences?” We see ourselves as the small but constant voice that speaks up for gender equality. A voice that challenges accepted but harmful practices on dispute resolution, the idea of Violence, gender roles and social expectations on sexuality (Women’s to be specific) to mention a few topics.
So every week the Yellow Movement team selects a topic (often after an intense and exhilarating debate), prepares fliers and sets up tables in different locations on campus to engage students. Table Day events take place for two days a week and ten weeks in a given semester.
Blood Drive (Bi-annual Blood Donation Event)
This is one of our two major events in a given academic year and a commitment the Yellow Movement team has made to do its part to save the lives of mothers. It is a sad and well-known fact that the number one reason mothers die in Ethiopia is loss of Blood during childbirth. So the Yellow Movement team mobilizes University students to donate blood under the theme “To save a mother’s life”. Our last blood Drive event drew the largest number of blood donors in recent history of our Campus.
Valentine’s Day Fundraiser
Valentine’s Day fundraiser is our second and most fun annual event. It is organized to raise funds to support female students who need financial assistance to cover their basic needs and expenses in college. Addis Ababa University Gender office has a program that currently supports a limited number of students and our fundraiser aims to support and strengthen this program. In the long run it is our dream to see this program expanding and growing into a reliable scholarship fund.
To raise funds we sell flowers and other small items on Valentine’s Day. We sell flowers at different locations on and off campus and Deliver to businesses and individuals upon prior order. All funds collected from the sales and donations are handed over to the Gender office.
The Yellow movement has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheYellowMovementAau) and is well represented on twitter by members and supporters. Most of our table day events are matched by a facebook post/discussion and a twitter conversation under the hashtag #YellowMvt. In December of 2013 the Yellow Movement team with the support of many dedicated human rights activist on twitter, organized a weeklong campaign on Ending Gender Based violence as a contribution to the 16 days of activism celebrated internationally. It was a great experience that brought many people together and showed the potential of social media for activism even in a country like Ethiopia.
The Yellow Movement Book Club
A recent addition to our activities, The YM Book Club is started with the intention of creating an army of women who read. The club is open to everyone but the majority of members are women. It is to challenge ourselves, to reflect and to understand the community we are serving. As we speak, seek to change and focus on what is outside of us; it is imperative that we also look inward and grow intellectually and emotionally.
Plans for the future
Our long-term plan is to start Yellow Movement chapters in at least six Law Schools around the country. In a few weeks we are going to spread out to two campuses in Addis and mentor and train new members.
The Yellow Movement also has email address: firstname.lastname@example.org