Society is failing women

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In Ethiopia we hear of stories of women being abused and oppressed socially and economically in many other countries; women not being allowed to work out side of the home, forced not to leave the house, not being able to go out without a male companion, not being able to marry who they want not being able to make political decisions, on top of so many other abuses. Of course these things don’t just exist in some countries, in one form or another, it exists everywhere.
On the other hand, there are some stories that we hear and that makes us think “boy am I glad I don’t live in that environment” because what we hear makes us think we are a little better off than some. Still, there is so much wrong with Ethiopian society when it comes to how it views women and how it says they should exist.
We live in a country that openly advertizes the rhetoric that women belong in the kitchen cooking the meal for the family, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, changing the baby’s diaper, while the mighty man brings home the bread, rewards the women with a fancy dinner, wires money from abroad for the holidays and so on.
Turn on TV and all these forms of gender divisions are splashed on the viewers face through advertisements for dish washing soap, laundry detergents and cooking oils. We know advertisements work; they are effective in instilling ideas in people’s heads. This means, with the kind of advertisements we are splashing on TV, we are inevitably teaching boys and girls, men and women what their positions in society must be.
While browsing social media this week, getting my daily dose of updates on what is going on in different parts of the world, I came across a post by someone who was speaking about outrage over what was written on Addis Ababa University’s facebook page.
On the University’s facebook page, a woman puts forward a comment on a post announcing the list of candidates running for the position of the President at AAU. The woman was pointing out that all the candidates where male and there was no point in specifying their gender, in a way criticizing that women were not encouraged to run for the position.
What caused the outrage was the response of whoever is managing AAU’s page which basically was “U can take the horse to river, but cannot force it to drink”, exactly written like this. The comment comes after another facebook user who stated that the reason for the lack of female candidates is because generally women preferred to stay back in the kitchen.
While nobody really cared about the young idiot that made the comment on women preferring the kitchen over the University’s presidential seat, many including myself were upset by the University’s own response. This puts into question the capacity of the very person who is currently leading the university.
Since the post got some shares and responses, it was removed. But I highly doubt the person behind the comment faced any kind of consequence from the University. I highly doubt that those in a leadership position at the university care that supposedly one of the best universities in our country openly insulted women. I feel so bad for the female students and workers there, the women who are not able to run the vacant positions even though they are more than qualified, for the women that will not get a chance because the system is not blind to gender and actively promotes inequality. I feel saddened for all of us.
As a graduate of Addis Ababa University, I have never felt that my time spent there was really worthwhile. Except for very few exceptions; the teachers were mostly incapable of actually teaching. As a female student, I have been in situations where male teachers have made unwanted advances, forwarded inappropriate comments and uncomfortable stares, which was all tolerated because of fears of getting a failing grade. This is the story of every female student I know, that has gone through that system.
It is very hard to change people’s behaviors; it can be done, but it will take a long time. I just don’t understand why people who are in responsibile positions are not held accountable when they do not do their job. Why isn’t the government interested in changing narratives for women and girls?
Currently the all male candidates for the position of president at Addis Ababa University are putting on a show about why each person is qualified and should hold the position. I hope who ever will be selected will make an effort to understand what women and girls face in Universities and work towards a more inclusive system. If not that, at least be efficient and capable enough to monitor and take seriously whatever is posted on social media in the name of the institution.