Feminist Series — Feminism in the Eyes of a Young Ethiopian

By Robel Alemseged

My name is Robel Alemseged. I am 27 years old, and like everyone else, I am a product of my experiences. I believe the past is pivotal to making us the person we are today. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. Growing up in the capital city of Ethiopia, I was reminded of how privileged I was to go to school unlike so many of my peers. My life was so easy in comparison to my parents; I completed high school, went to college, found a job, and then just had to figure out the rest of my life.

I remember a particular moment with my father when I was a high school student. He was sitting outside reading a book. I was waiting for the rain to stop before leaving the house to join my friends. He noticed that I was dressed up. He called my name as he folded his book and lowered his reading glasses, and told me something that has been imprinted on my mind to this day. He cleared his throat and said, “you can’t always wait for tomorrow to happen,” reminding me to start studying for the national exams even though they were months away.

Fast-forward to college. I went to Addis Ababa University and studied Civil Engineering. I then worked at a construction firm, and after for six months, I moved to, Includovate. As I pursued my post-graduate degree, I noticed how hard people struggled with procrastination, and I truly appreciated the words of my father. I was able to find the balance that most people miss between work, social life, and education. Those simple words from my father on that rainy day still echo in my mind, and they are one of the pillars of my life.

In a third-world country like Ethiopia, women are obligated to undertake all domestic assignments, as well as have a career or education. Surprisingly, in my experience, I noticed that women were more accomplished in their education, more focused at the workplace, and had more meaningful social relationships. I always ask them how are you able to manage so much with love, passion, and success.

This and many other reasons led me to start considering that we should engage more female politicians in our country to take the initiative on building a system that fosters women ; and I also try to encourage women around me to educate themselves, participate in training, and in politics and social issues. Starting with my mother, most of the women I know have proven to me that they have all the ingredients needed to be a good leader; they are good multitaskers, tireless and have good time management.

Role models are people whom we look up to and who inspire us to bring out our best character. In this regard, my role models are my parents. I learned some of the biggest life lessons from them: perseverance, passion, prioritisation, family love, and sacrifice. I always admired their dedication to finishing what they started. They both were focused and prioritised our family’s needs, i.e. providing shelter, looking after our well-being and mental health, making sure we got a quality education, etc.

There are some institutions that are on the right track to make the world a better place. There are non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social enterprises, and firms that fulfil their social corporate responsibilities, such as Includovate. Our world is made up of billions of people, with different colours, different perspectives, and different desires. I envision a world where people will not be judged for their looks, thoughts, or desires. I envision a world that accommodates all humans as they are, as long as they don’t violate their peers’ rights or boundaries.

A country’s cultural heritage and natural history are precious and unique. Culture and history form a people’s national identity. It is essential to preserve that cultural heritage to maintain our identity as a nation. We Ethiopians are renowned for being considerate, welcoming, cooperative, and non-confrontational people. The value of cultural heritage is in the wealth of experience and skills passed down from generation to generation. However, in ancient traditions all over the world, women have mostly been undermined in politics, education, and social status. They face many barriers to access, and participation equally in arts, politics, finance, and leadership, which prevents them from developing their full potential.

Limited participation by women in decision-making positions; restricted opportunities for continuing education, capacity building and networking; unequal share of unpaid care work; poor conditions of employment; and gender stereotypes and fixed ideas about culturally appropriate roles for men and women are the main problems. There needs to be an action plan to enhance debate, research, and awareness-raising regarding equality in all stages of the country’s master plan. Both women and men, girls and boys should have responsibilities and opportunities in the areas of heritage, leadership and creativity. We have a lot to learn to bring all people to the table to make the world a better place. It should be everybody’s concern, from individuals to government official. All should actively participate to make this goal achieved sooner than later.

Robel Alemseged is born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is a Civil Engineering graduate from Addis Ababa University. After his graduation, he worked in the field of Construction for TOFCON Construction as an intern Site Engineer and Quantity Surveyor, where he developed a strong and positive, self-motivated attitude. After that, he studied for his Master’s in Business Administration while he worked as a Marketing Sales Officer. He has good interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal, and can liaise at all levels in a proactive and organised manner.

Includovate is a feminist research incubator that “walks the talk”. Includovate is an Australian social enterprise consisting of a consulting firm and research incubator that designs solutions for gender equality and social inclusion. Its mission is to incubate transformative and inclusive solutions for measuring, studying, and changing discriminatory norms that lead to poverty, inequality, and injustice. To know more about us at Includovate, follow our social media: @includovate, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram.

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Includovate

Connecting and empowering people to overcome the norms that lead to poverty, inequality and injustice.