I’m currently reading Resistance, Freedom and Empowerment: The Ethiopian Women’s Struggle authored by former FDRE Minister of Education Gennet Zewide. As I delve into the 200+ pages, I’m quite surprised for two very major reasons:
- As I devour each page, what i find is an encounter with Gennet’s refreshing feminist analysis into culture and history. Her book is one of a handful of Ethiopian texts authored by an Ethiopian woman and applying a feminist critique to assess the pillars that continue to support patriarchy in Ethiopia. It has often been disheartening for me to come across texts emerging locally that rarely if at all engage feminist discourse in addressing gender and women’s issues in the country. Most often colored by a “gender tool kit” approach, it has been far too long since Meaza Ashenafi’s monograph to come across Ethiopian female authorship that unabashedly utilizes a deconstructive feminist approach.
- Secondly, her encouragement of Ethiopian women to utilize a feminist lens in scanning their environment is refreshing to say the least as a majority of Ethiopian women’s issue/rights advocates of her generation and even now are quite shy and culturally restrained in publicly acknowledging and waving the feminist flag. In her herstorical (she looks for “her stories” instead of his stories) review of Ethiopian women’s involvement in the public arena, she paints our currently sparse canvas with accounts of women’s activity contrary to the passivity articulated in historical texts. Her preliminary excavation is an encouragement to the miniscule feminist scholarship in the country to start digging for gold.
Where the book may suffer a little in trying to deal with everything at once, it fulfills the Ethiopian female reader and emerging feminist scholars by giving us a taste of what we can continue to uncover where patriarchal texts have failed to inspire our feminist curiosity.
Here’s a good read to your summer/winter list wherever in the hemisphere you may find yourself in August.
Love & Light