Africa’s biggest social issues and taboos are no match for these girls.
A revolutionary new cartoon series called Tibeb Girls features a group of three young superheroes, who unite to make rural Ethiopian communities safer for girls experiencing gender-based violence and discrimination.
The show tackles some of the country’s most pervasive problems, including stigma around menstruation, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and access to education.
Tibeb Girls shatters the silence around these issues in fun and engaging ways, hoping to create a better understanding of the needs and concerns of Ethiopian girls.
The superheroes all have different powers, which help them fight inequality as a team. There’s Power Girl, who has superhuman strength and speed; Whiz Kid Girl, who can see the future; and Empathy Girl, who has the power to feel others’ feelings. Their superpowers highlight essential qualities for real girls in Ethiopia — self-empowerment, education, and compassion.
“Most of the issues we’re raising aren’t discussed in the community, schools, or in the house.”
Gender-based violence and discrimination is widespread in Ethiopia, as it is in many parts of the world. Only 57 percent of Ethiopian girls between the ages of 15 and 24 can read and write, and about 1 in every 5 girls are forced to marry before they turn 15. About half of all girls and women have never received any type of education.
Tibeb Girls, which some have likened to The Powerpuff Girls, was created by Whiz Kids Workshop — the company behind the award-winning educational children’s series Tsehai Loves Learning. The Ethiopian company was founded by a woman and employs female creators almost exclusively.
Whiz Kids Workshop hopes the series will help create a cultural shift in the way Ethiopia — and Africa as a whole — sees its girls.
“Most of the issues we’re raising aren’t discussed in the community, schools, or in the house,” Bruktawit Tigabu, Whiz Kids Workshop’s CEO, founder, and creative director, told TV2Africa. “That’s another inspiration — to really break the taboo and to give [girls] a very entertaining and engaging way to talk about serious subjects.”
Tigabu said most children’s TV shows available throughout Africa are imported from the West, missing the mark when it comes to touching on cultural and social issues impacting girls in Africa. But Tibeb Girls puts Ethiopian girls at the center of the conversation, showing powerful young women taking on injustice and asserting their worth.
“For me, it was very important to have girls who look like me and who look like my child to be on the screen playing very good role models,” Tigabu said.
The first season of Tibeb Girls is currently only available through screenings at schools and events around Ethiopia. But Whiz Kids Workshop is currently pitching the series to broadcasters around the country and across Africa to gain a wider audience. Tibeb Girls is also published as a comic and radio series, which children and family’s can read and listen to at home.
A second season of Tibeb Girls is already planned, with 13 TV episodes and 13 radio episodes.
[H/T Global Citizen]
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