Esteemed 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. 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% to less than 3% 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.
She received the Prize on May 22, 2103 at the Royal Palace in Brussels :
The King and the members of the Royal Family promote private and public initiatives that help bring about social improvements.
Several initiatives have grown out of the commitment of the members of the Royal Family.