The role of educated/intellectual women in Ethiopia in the process of change and transformation towards gender equality 1974-2005
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AbstractThis thesis is a critical review of educated women’s leadership in their emancipation in Ethiopia. Did they provide leadership and to what extent? It is to be noted that educated women’s leadership has been of great importance to women’s emancipation worldwide. Strong leadership was also the driving force behind women’s movements and feminism everywhere. However, the role of educated women in Ethiopia is hard to discern and their leadership efforts are largely invisible. On the other hand, many among the educated also lack the passion and desire to commit themselves in the fight for women’s emancipation.
In this thesis I researched the settings and frameworks of women’s leadership and discussed the factors that function as limitations and/or opportunities. Overall there were more limitations than opportunities. These limitations are often historically rooted in the country’s religious, cultural, economic, political and traditional systems. And, as much as history and religion can be a source of strength and pride for many, they can also be a serious obstacle.
The political regime of the Derg also scarred an entire population to the extent that despite the currently proclaimed ‘freedom’ of the EPRDF ruling party, women remain reluctant to step forward and claim their rights.
The ruling party appears to appropriate women’s emancipation as a “private” interest and to use it for political gain, in the same manner as the Derg regime had done before it. Nowhere is there any sign of genuine freedom and equality for women in practice. Rhetoric reigns supreme through laws and policy documents, but they are not matched by genuine actions and concrete strategies. The traditional religious base of society is also making it more difficult to challenge autocratic tendencies of the ruling elite. The effect is that civil society is slowly being pushed to extinction, leaving the ruling party in charge as the main actor in all public services. This has serious consequences for the genuine emancipation of women in the country.
The thesis finds that women’s leadership is not a luxury or personal demand, but a crucial step for the development of the country at large. It is encouraging to note that there are different sections of active women in the country waiting for strong leadership, leadership that can unite them into a movement and guide them on their unique emancipation paths. After all, it is only women themselves who, with their existing epistemic advantage, can transform their situation and change their status.
(D.Litt. et Phil.(Sociology))
Biseswar Indrawatie (2011) The role of educated/intellectual women in Ethiopia in the process of change and transformation towards gender equality 1974-2005, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <http://hdl.handle.net/10500/6066>