Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

Who is Aynie Habtamu?

Aynie is a Young Ethiopian who is married with one child. She holds Bachelor's Degree of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies. Due to her passion for gender equality she went on to pursue a Masters in Gender Studies from Addis Ababa University and graduated in 2010. While in pursuit of her first degree; she focused her research paper on Ethiopian women's economic empowerment. In the process of doing the research and after reviewing great literature on gender issues she realized that the women are in a more disadvantaged position than men.

Since that moment she wanted to continue reading about women's issues and sought solutions to address some of the issues facing women. In 2005 she joined Eastern Africa Sub Saharan Initiative (EASSI) in Uganda for an Internship of nine months. While at EASSI she learned that gender issues are not just an issue which can be solved at one time or overnight. "It is deep rooted and people are comfortable not to change especially those who are benefiting from the inequality, from the unfair structures". She has continued to work on gender issues since then up to this day. She is currently a Senior Gender and Nutrition Advisor in one of International NGO called CARE. She has continued to struggle for gender equality and women empowerment even through working with CARE.

As an African woman of strength

When Asked about her unique qualities Aynie was quick to state that "Some of her unique quality that define her personality are not only has but also other strong African women. "I have passion for what I am doing which is struggling for gender equality and creating awareness on gender issues. I am also committed to my work and the challenges and obstacles don't stop my commitment. "She said.

The AWLI experience

Speaking of her AWLI experience Aynie told us that were part of AWLI on 2005; that she got that opportunity when she was doing my Internship in Uganda. For her it was a perfect timing because this was a time when she was beginning to really interrogate gender issues and joining the movement. The AWLI experience gave her a lot of personal growth and has helped her build her career. "It built my self-confidence on expressing me as a leader through exploration of my strength and weakness during the personal skill sessions. It also gave me a chance to share my experience with other young women and also got a chance to learn from their experience. Since the participants were coming from different organizations as well as different countries it gave a multicultural experience. As a whole the leadership session, communication session, group works and other participatory methodologies which trainees used were so helpful. It also introduced me and opened my mind to international policies and conventions"

Unique aspects of the AWLI training for Aynie

There were many unique aspects to the AWLI that included the diversity of participants, everybody did a research on different topics and shared with the team, the discussions were quite enriching. Then there were the self-discovery sessions and the women's right session that were so unique and I really learnt from them. We also had sessions which were organized after the normal day's sessions; these were so recreational and educative.

Recommending Other Young Women to the AWLI

When asked if she would recommend a young woman to the AWLI she was quick to state to say; "Oh yes! I really recommend for the young African women to take the training. I can say it is a kind of an eye opener for those who want to start or join the movement (The struggle for the women's right). They will get more experience from the other participants, they will learn the women's current issues, will acquire leadership and communication skills"

Her take on the inspiration for the women's movement & ability to dealing challenges

I think that what supported the women's movement is the commitment of the women who are working on women's rights. Of course, the international instruments and policies also supported the movement in dealing with and making the countries accountable for the signed agreement on the conventions. They are able to deal with the challenges because of their attachment with the issues and also by seeing some changes through time.

The Africa Aynie wants!

The report of the MDG shows that some progress is happening in girl's education, child mortality and gender equality, so I would like to see the African government to comment on the girl's education and their political will on the gender equality.

A message for any young women interested in political leadership in Ethiopia

My message for the young women who are interested in political leadership is to be ready to face many challenges, resistance and many more tests. Be ready and equipped with your arguments and reasons to be a woman leader in a patriarchal society. Try to answer, why do you want to be a political leader? What do you want to see changed?

"Gender equality is about human right, it is not asking for a favour" Aynie Habtamu