To Dereje Gerefa:
Protect women’s rights and promote gender equality
To Dereje Gerefa:
On the historic event, Political Reform in Ethiopia, many important issues have been raised including reconciliation, justice, peace, common value formation, inclusiveness, nationalism, media and many more issues…. The issue of inclusiveness, the silent majority, the voice of women should be moved from the periphery to the center, was discussed by my dear Addoyyee Aklile Solomon.
Following her arguments, questions were forwarded and discussed. One of the questions forwarded was from the well known activists I respect, Dereje Gerefa. I don’t owe any justification for anyone about my resistance against patriarchy but his questions were too provocative to ignore.
Dereje asked: Which women are you talking about, when you talk about gender-based oppression? How do we know if you (gender equality activists) are making the issues of women your capital? He said I am not saying women have not been somehow marginalized but….
1. I want to ask you why you asked this question to the gender activist and not any of the panelists. Out of all the panelists there, out of all the marginalized groups spoken about, you only saw a potential to capitalize when the oppression of women was raised. So I want to ask you why? Why is it when someone fights for women all you think about is capitalization? Is it because you don’t believe other issues can be capitalized on? Do you not consider the potential for someone to engage with women’s oppression because they care? Or even the fact that a woman is fighting against oppression because she has been oppressed too?
2. After all as a feminist and gender equality activist, I represent myself, my own voice against the discrimination I face on daily basis just for being a woman. So, I am the woman we are talking about. My own experience is the driving factor that made me part of the movement.
3. Gender inclusive in Ethiopia can only happen if it responds to intersectional nature of identity-based oppression. So, if Ethiopia is able to respond to the question of the women who are living in rural context, disability, lack of access to education and economically disadvantaged, then that is when fairness is achieved. That is why we are working with woreda level education offices, schools, girls’ clubs to challenge the status quo. But I don’t want you to think that the problem of urban educated women is less of a problem. You can’t choose one oppression over the other. Please note that the fact that you minimize the experiences of one group of people is also another form of oppression and silencing. Do not tell urban women to sit back because there are worst things that you do not know about their experience.
4. And FYI, being a gender activist is not a rewarding choice to make (By the way, it is fine if it rewarding). You gain no financial or social reward, except your own freedom. This a matter of passion, not gain. We have another capital, the one we make a living from, which is our career.
5. Unlike what you said, women are not “somehow” marginalized. Women are significantly oppressed structurally, politically, economically and socially. The way oppression thrives is by making you think that this is not as big as you make it seem, so I want you to be careful in how you phrase this. Women’s oppression is not a “somehow” marginalization but an oppression. Don’t be conformist part of the system, I know you are reformist.
Siyane Aniley Amentie