A new feminist television series in Ethiopia called “Tibeb Girls” is changing the cultural landscape for the next generation of girls.
The show tackles some of the country’s most entrenched problems — female genital mutilation, HIV, child marriage, and illiteracy, to name a few — in what seems at first glance like a cross between the whimsy of the “Powerpuff Girls” and the educational rigor of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“By broadcasting a program that will examine harmful practices and explore girls’ agency in addressing those challenges, Tibeb Girls will foster a culture of conversation among girls, families, and throughout the broader community,” the show’s creators, the Whiz Kids Workshop, wrote about the program. “Through our partnerships detailed below, the Tibeb Girls is an Ethiopian-led, innovative, scalable and sustainable approach to measurably improving coordination around girls’ issues in Ethiopia.”
If that sounds too heavy for a cartoon, don’t worry: the show disguises the serious subject matter in a fun, engaging form.
Like Powerpuff Girls, the show revolves around three heroines who each have their own specialities.
Power Girl has super strength and speed; Whiz Kid Girl has the ability to see the future; and Empathy Girl can feel the pain of others.
Together, they fight villains and make the country a safer place for girls.
In Ethiopia, girls face a range of stifling problems on their way to adulthood.
Just 57% of young women aged 15 to 24 are literate, 20% of girls are married off before 15, and teenage girls are three times more likely to get HIV than their male peers, according to the UN.
A TV show won’t change such daunting problems on its own, but Tibeb Girls can help young girls imagine a brighter future, one in which education is accessible for all, women are treated as equal to men, and the forces of evil can be conquered with teamwork and empathy.
The show already has a second season planned — 13 radio episodes and 13 television episodes — which shows that empowered women are striking a chord.