The Yellow Movement: Ethiopian Women Use Valentine’s Day to Promote Girl Power

The Yellow Movement sells flowers on Valentine’s Day donated by flower farms to raise money that will support poor students pay their way through university.

By Ken Karuri (Africanews) |

While the rest of the world turned red on Valentine’s Day, students from the Addis Ababa University (AAU) were turning yellow as part of an initiative to empower women.

The Yellow Movement sells flowers donated by flower farms to raise money that will support poor students pay their way through university.

Valentine’s Day is considered more of a foreign celebration in Ethiopia, and while many young people mark the day with gifts and flowers for their loved ones, some people think the ‘Yellow’ version makes more sense.

“What they are doing and their program is Holy! It is a very good idea because it is about stretching hands to those who need support. However, I don’t personally subscribe to the idea of the so called ‘Valentine’s Day’ because, it is not our culture. Even if we say it’s okay to celebrate it, I think it has gone way out of line in Ethiopia. You spend the day with someone this year and next year with another person. Generally, it is not normal what the young boys and girls are exposed to,” said Lemlem Minasie in Addis Ababa.

The idea for Yellow Movement was sparked in 2011 after two violent attacks on women at AAU.

With the help of one of the professors, a group of female students decided to start a campaign that could support women and raise awareness about gender based violence.

“People do not know inequality when they see it. I see it. I think it affects us big time. Although we want to lie about it, we want to cover it up. Our culture is mainly patriarchal and we tend to ignore the female side of things. Therefore, it is really important for us to focus on that and to bring that to attention as well,” said Hilina Birhanu, one of the Yellow Movement’s founders.

Along with the Valentine’s Day fundraiser, they also hold regular debates on campus about gender equality and share some of the experiences they face and getting help for victims.

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