Unveiling Ethiopian Women's Dynamism

Ethiopian Women Unleashed. That is the name of the project designed by the Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations (NEWA) in collaboration with the Heinrich Boll Foundation.  “Ethiopian Women Unleashed: Stories of Accomplished Ethiopian Women,”  is a database project conceived with the aim of creating a repository of information on the many achievements of Ethiopian women, which is rarely documented and disseminated.

The online database as it stands since its launch on October 19, 2012 contains the profiles and stories of sixty women of all backgrounds whose achievements stand to inspire a growing population of young women and girls in the country. The database, which can be accessed through its own website:  Ethiopian Women Unleashed, is organized in alphabetical order, contains a short summary of achievements of each woman profiled, and a narrative of each woman’s life story.

As an open-ended project with the goal of growing the database of information on women in Ethiopia, the project has made an open call to the public to suggest historical and contemporary female candidates for inclusion in the growing database.

I highly commend the efforts of Saba G/Medhin (NEWA Director) and Mary Jane Wagle, as well as the many volunteers and advisory board members, who have worked tirelessly to bring to fruition such an important project towards working towards filing the gap in documented information about Ethiopian women. I also urge my readers to browse through the fascinating stories and get involved in the project by supporting NEWA grow the database.

This work is also complementary to similar initiatives demonstrated through the work of Alem Desta, editor of the book Candace: Invincible Women of Ethiopia, which contains short profiles of 16 Ethiopian women who have made notable contributions to their society. Featuring the stories of women who have become household names and other less common names, the book is also another contribution towards revealing the challenges and triumphs of Ethiopian women.  

Similarly, the Association of Women in Business (AWiB) also documents the story of and spotlights one woman every month through its website at  www.awib.org.et. In addition, AWiB is also engaged in  enabling the visibility and honoring Ethiopian women’s achievements in an annual gala event celebrating Women of Excellence.

Lastly,  Elias Wondimu* of Tsehai Publishers based in Los Angeles, California, is working towards the publishing of a coffee table book entitled “Flowers of Today, Seeds of Tomorrow”  which captures and presents the stories of a generation of Ethiopians who were confronted with the prospect of leading lives and climbing ladders in contexts much different to that of their homeland. This work includes the intimate profiles of  seven Ethiopian women in the diaspora who far surpassed the challenges of a new environment and carved their individual paths to the helm of success in a different country. To learn more about and financially support this project, visit  http://kck.st/RK9aNc*.

I find it inspiring that in a few short years, so many people have realized the importance of documenting and disseminating the personal stories of Ethiopian women, where history books have done an injustice to the many fascinating challenges and accounts of resilience that women in the country have experienced. What we have lost in historical accounts of women’s involvement in their society, i remain highly optimistic that the future generations will now have a repository of information of those that blazed trails, thanks to initiatives like  those mentioned above.

*Apologies to my readers as the last name of the founder of Tsehai Publishers had been erroneously stated in the unedited version of this entry. Elias Wondimu is the correct name of the founder of Tsehai Publishers.  

Love & Light

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