Unfortunately, if we are honest, we may need to admit we could have done better—not only for the sake of women, but also for the sake of all of us in Ethiopia who could benefit from their involvement. In fact, in our struggle for peace, justice, democracy, prosperity and the overall well-being of our society we may have forgotten about one of our greatest untapped resources—our women! Let us then assess what we must do to give women a more central place in Ethiopia.
The respect of women and their inclusion in all aspects of society is a task for both men and women. We must do this together, empowering our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and granddaughters to enter into to the mainstream of all aspects of life to take their positions next to men. Women make up half our population and within this group is huge potential for cultural, spiritual, social and economic good. Without their participation, we will limit our future hope of becoming a vibrant, robust, productive and flourishing society.
I, for one, would not be fighting for human rights without the influence of my very wise and caring grandmother. She once told me that God wanted human beings to care for and to protect other human beings. She cared for me, demonstrating this personally to me—so did my mother by nurturing me as a child and teaching me how to care for my siblings. My mother gave me some of my best lessons in how to reconcile with my brothers if we fought. She also taught me that losing was okay as none of us can always be winners. Together, my mother and grandmother promoted my education.
My grandmother though was the one who bought me my first pencil and notebook so I could go to school. Perhaps you have women like these in your life. Let us take a second look at how the women of Ethiopia as well as the women of Africa and around the world might help us through the crises that are breaking apart our beloved country, continent of Africa and the world.
The role of Ethiopian women in building a New Ethiopia is so important that I believe we will never achieve our goal without the involvement of the women of our nation, many of whom are our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, colleagues and community members. If we think of our struggle as a huge puzzle of many pieces that must be put together, Ethiopian women make up a huge section of the still missing pieces. Our Ethiopian women make up one of the largest sub-groups in the country, around 50% of our population. They share many common values, aspirations, challenges and obstacles; however, they also are representative of our rich and diverse Ethiopian culture.
For example, some of our Ethiopian women may come from some of the larger or more powerful ethnic groups, like the Oromo, the Amhara, the Somali, the Tigrayan or the Gurage. Others may come from some of those ethnic groups you hardly know, like the Konta, the Dirashe, the Irob, the Murle or the Bodi. They may be Muslim, Ethiopian Orthodox, Evangelical Christian, Ethiopian Jew, animists or non-believers, but they all are women. They may come from the rural regions, marginalized settings, urban areas or from the Diaspora. They may be highly educated or illiterate, young or old, rich or poor. They may speak several languages or only their tribal language, but they are all Ethiopian women and they are us!
May God help us find “Ethiopian mothers” for our society who can be “peace-makers,” helping to bring reconciliation to “the family of Ethiopia.” Will it be these mothers who can bring the politicians together? Will it be our Ethiopian women who take a role in easing the mistrust between the Muslims and Christians so they might join together to create a common front to challenge the regime?
Will it be you who helps end our ethnic-based hatred and tendency towards authoritarian leaders that have given us serial dictatorships rather than freedom, liberty and justice for us and future generations? Maybe it will be you mothers who will teach people to see the humanity in everybody; just like every mother who does not favor one child over another, but who builds a family to make it stronger and healthier. Will you do your part in this?
May God help us bring the mothers of Ethiopia out among us to start a dialogue of reconciliation and a process to create a home so welcoming and warm that the exodus out of Ethiopia will stop and our people will even begin to return home to contribute to the building of this New Ethiopia.
Posted by : Kumilachew Gebremeskel Ambo