DR BOGALECH GEBRE (ETHIOPIA)
Dr Gebre has done seminal work in turning the tide against female genital mutilation (FGM),a practice so prevalent in Ethiopia that a Fistula Hospital was established in Addis Ababa — obstetric fistula is one of the common complications of FGM.
After losing two of her sisters to infections from FGM and escaping from four attempted early marriages, Dr Gebre became the first girl in her village of Zato in southwestern Ethiopia to be educated beyond the fourth grade. She later attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a full scholarship and became the first woman invited to join the science faculty at Addis Ababa University after having earned a PhD in epidemiology from UCLA, Los Angeles.
In 2002, she founded a self-help centre called Kembatta Women’s Self-Help Group, 350km south of the capital, to fight against FGM and to promote the prevention of HIV and Aids. The centre also offers vocational training for women.