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The Eritrean Woman: Reverie of an Emancipated Eritrean Man

First you need to start with the grand narrative that is constantly quoted to you condescendingly: Your 30% participation in Eritrean’s prolonged armed struggle. This is based on faulty math; it is based on the simplistic calculation of the female headcount divided by the total membership and then converted to a percentage. It does not account for the triple work you have performed during that bitter and hostile struggle. Your performance was stellar, you humanized Ghedli, you emancipated some of its men, and you made indelible contributions to its continuity. So start rejecting that number. It is based on a faulty calculation that does not capture your true lynchpin status.

After you destroy the above fallacy, think about how you faired after the so-called independence; you have been at the receiving end of PFDJ’s abusive policies, from snatching your under-age children to paying financial penalties after your adult children decide to leave PFDJ of their own volition to escape the servitude of the national service that has become is as long as the armed struggle.  In a normal world, it is you, the Eritrean woman, who should have sued to demanded compensation for the kidnap and disappearance of your children by PFDJ. Although the story of Eritrea is your story, it has been unkind to you and to your offspring and just because you have paid dearly to beautify that story, you should not be beholden to its ugly parts, therefore tell you stories, document your braveries, your struggles now and then, and tell it like it is, narrate it like it was.

There are two parts that are stumbling blocks to your true emancipation: the institutional part that pays lip service and exploits your trust and patience, kindness and generosity and the cultural side that favors men. Through your struggles for the last fifty years, you have made a dent on some cultural aspects and, to your credit, you have emancipated many an Eritrean man but you have not emancipated yourselves yet from both the cultural and institutional harness. You work is cut for you and if you channel the energy, ingenuity and tenacity you have expended for the last fifty years, there is no task that you cannot accomplish, no hurdle you can diminish and no challenge you cannot turn to an opportunity.  You have been burdened by two challenges so far, liberating Eritrea and emancipating yourselves and so you have been spread thin; now it is high time for you to focus on the emancipation of Eritrean woman. You have the talent, the zeal and the consummate tenacity that is needed.

Someone in the Awate forum said that the Eritrean woman is unique. I agree. You are the standard- bearer of Eritrean culture, of Eritrean nature, of Eritrean continuity and of Eritrean tenacity and, as such, the bright posterity of the nation and the people rests on you. No one can free you from these responsibilities and living up to these responsibilities is intricately woven into your emancipation. From the way you nurture your children in the homeland and diaspora, to how you pass on your complex tapestry of legacy, to how your name your kids, all have bearings on your ultimate and genuine emancipation.

Activist and freedom fighter Tzigereda Haile has written an intellectually honest, ground-breaking article (http://awate.com/mistir-leyti-secret-of-the-night/) about the challenges that women faced during our Ghedli; and, Aklilu Zere (http://awate.com/the-good-tegadalit/) has eloquently told us how the good Eritrean freedom fighter fought with dignity and resilience, with passion and compassion. Both articles have one thing in common: the Eritrean woman has contributed more than her fair share during the liberation movement. She fought to liberate the land, the people and herself and that, most of the time, the institution of Ghedli was unfair to her.

Take your husband, boyfriend, brother, father, and cousin to Women Studies courses or seminars, if you can. An informed man will make an informed society and community. If you are a Christian and you have a Biblically literate husband who tells you that, “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is also the head of the church”, just reply yes sir! And when you see the glint in his eyes, since soul mates finish each other’s sentences, finish the verse for him, “….as Christ loves the church, husbands love your wives” and when he says, “of course”, hit him with, “you know love entails death”. Before he recovers from that, since he invoked St. Paul, remind him that that St. Paul also said that Adam was not deceived, meaning Adam willingly, knowingly and lovingly decided to join Eve in her predicament, otherwise, the man who walked with God, could have told his wife that he would pray for her. It was Adam’s love that made him die with her than Eve dying alone and that is why Adam is called the shadow of Christ, so darling, love entails death.

As some women have done with some success in the diaspora, create an all-encompassing grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of Eritrean women, an organization that is not beholden to the National Union of Eritrean Women, a group that is partly responsible for the present predicament of Eritrean women: an organization that is subservient to PFDJ and its forty years history had accomplished nothing towards the emancipation of Eritrean women, but has contributed tremendously to the suffering of the Eritrean women by becoming the enforcer of PFDJ’s policies. The grassroots organization must focus solely on empowering women in different areas, history, documenting the bravery of those women who participated in the armed struggle as early as the 1960s. The goals of the grassroots of the organization should be to inspire a new generation of girls who will carry the baton and the torch that Eritrean women carried and that is on the verge of being extinguished by PFDJ and its lackeys.

Along with the fallacy of the 30%, there is one thing that you are constantly reminded of and it is this:  that Eritrean women are equal to men. Please get it, this is a lie, repeated many times over that we all started believing it. It is false.  You are not equal to men. Eritrean women are superior to Eritrean men. I hope this does not come across as condescending but I believe it with every fiber of my being. You have proved to be more flexible, more resilient, more tolerant, and more adaptive than the Eritrean man. Ghedli did not emancipate you, you emancipated it, you empowered it, you ensured its continuity, and you inspired and emancipated some of its men, but the perpetrators of the sleepless nights that Tzigereda Haile narrated are still lurking among you, some are unrepentant rapists, many are unapologetic human traffickers, so be mindful, carry the torch and keep emancipating the invariably belligerent Eritrean man. Also, you need to watch with the corner of your eyes the Jezebels amongst you, who are worshiping and dallying with the Devil reigning the land you have liberated with your toil, sweat, and blood. 

Before I interrupt my daydreaming, where is the museum that documents the struggles, the lives, sacrifices, and transformations of Eritrean women? A year or so ago, the Awate forum was gripped by a heated debate about the role of the woman in empowering PFDJ and, sensing the importance of the subject, the website moderators harvested the comments. My recollection is hazy about the comments, but the picture accompanying the harvested comments is still haunting me. It depicted a group of weary women carrying water on their backs. Now, ladies, the good ladies, where is the museum that enshrines and preserves, the struggles, sacrifices, bravery, and transformations of the Eritrean women? If rejecting the fallacy of the 30% is the beginning, creating museum comes second. Go for it.

Happy March 8!

About Semere Andom

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  • tes

    Dear Semere Andom,

    Each line of yours has epoch for Eritrean women’s issue. Your message is strong and to the point. The flow of your lines shows how honest and strong is your views on women’s issue. The 30% myth is well described and is indeed a lie as you have put it perfectly.

    Kudos!

    Saying that, I am dissatisfied on the political issue. You have talked on how the 30% myth is construed but you are shy on how themselves[women] are failing to have equal partnership in everyday life. You failed to explain that women are 50% of our community and that is what they should be every where.

    EPLF has failed terribly at the level of political emancipation of opening women to all spheres. The 30%myth has deceived everyone including women themselves. In a free land, what gender issue is very important. But in countries like Eritrea, it is a tool.

    tes

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello again AT,
    If you don’t see something quickly, please do not dwell on it except for white listing my new IP. It could be my internet explorer too, because I am able to login using Firefox.

    Thanks.

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello AT,
    If you have noticed a change of IP it is because I changed my ISP account. I am having login issues to disqus via awate.com.
    Fanti Ghana.

  • Yoty Topy

    Dear Awate Readers,
    The great Pan-African Nation of Ghana recently lifted Visa requirements for all Africans;-it can be obtained upon arrival. I wish all African nations follow suit and do away with visa restrictions. North Americans , Europeans and other advanced countries receive visa waivers. Why not our African brethren?

    • Lamek

      Hello YT. If I were to change my citizenship ‘again’ to another African country, it would be Ghana. I like the people and the country.

      • Yoty Topy

        Hi Lamek,
        I endorse your sentiment 120%. I am guessing you have spent sometime in Ghana right? For I have not met anyone who has lived there and doesn’t have a great opinion about Ghana.
        My 2nd and 3rd choices would be Kenya and Tanzania. I would be fine if they dissolve the rest of them:) Especially, Liberia .

  • Lamek

    Dear all. Does anyone know what’s up with radio Medrek. They haven’t broadcast for 11 days now. I suspect IA succeeded in convincing Arabsat to discontinue providing Medrek airwaves. The man is shaken by all the radio broadcast. Because he knows Eritreans are listeners rather than readers. This website is for the few intelligencia but radio is for all Eritreans.

    I have an idea. Let’s petition this website for radio awate.

    Semere Andom – editorial reader in Tigrinya

    Abi – Amharic culture center, weakly semu na werku

    Fanti – Raya news

    Mahmoud Saleh – tezekrotat ghedli

    Saay – Eritrean latest entertainment biz

    Amanuel Hidraat – lizib abotat

    Tsigereda – women matter too

    Nitricc – hip hop news, I don’t know in what language

    Ted – the fate of Amiches

    Dis Donc – yezarieytu Ambo

    Amde – Abyssinian Fundamentalist movement news and notes

    Gheteb – Case studies Amde and KH weakly progress report

    Lamek – GRE prep using Ghetebian vocabulary and phraseology

    If you want a job, let me know.

    Project Awate Radio 2016. Express yourself!

    • Fanti Ghana

      Hello Dear Lamek,
      You have my complete support on this one. If I may suggest a minor modification it would be changing Nitricc’s job description to “Kezihm Keziam,” otherwise I am in.

      • Lamek

        Fixed. Thank you Fanti.

    • Lamek

      Update:

      Selam all.

      I discovered this morning that you would have to go to Medrek’s Facebook page to see their radio posts….

      But their main website hasn’t been refreshed in nearly two weeks.

      Just wanted to set the record straight.

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello Abi,
    “Kayate”
    Hmmm; aye Gondere! [ Picture me leaning forward to the screen with index finger on top of my lips. ]

  • Tewelde gebremariam

    Hi Semere A.

    With regard to your objection to the claim that the gender composition of the Mighty EPLFs was 30% women and 70% men, I wish you demonstrated to us your superior knowledge of biostatistics combining the physical count with relative importance/atribute of the respective elements involved. Would you also lend us your superior knowledge of mathematics figuring out the correct number of planets we have in our solar system in view of the fact that Jupiter is many times over larger than any of the rest of the other planets? I hope you would, the world will be grateful.

    By the way, you wrote as if the only women that took part in the War Of Liberation were Christians. This is a gross mistake because the Muslim women were also the makers of that Heroic Struggle. Their bones and blood are all ove Eritrea. And when these women, Muslims/ Christians, decided to join the struggle, they had to break the taboos each of our faiths, Christianity and Islam, had errected against them since time immemorial.

    In fact, it seems to me that during this Women’s Day celebration, our attention should concentrate more on the plights of the Muslim women more than the Christian women because the Muslim woman is relatively more oppressed . For example in Christianity, the man can only marry one woman at a time , and in time of divorce , the woman is entitled to half of the children and household property and It is quite different in the Islam Faith because the man can have many wives at any time and can divorce any of them at will at any time and she leaves the house empty handed.

    • Music Novice

      Greetings Tg,

      I like your sarcasm and the point you made about the situation of Muslim women.

    • Fanti Ghana

      Hello Dear Tewelde,

      I agree with you about the plight of Muslim women in Eritrea, but I want to address what you said at the end because marriage and divorce in Islam is riddled with misconceptions. I find the religion relatively to be the most enlightened regarding marriage, but the local traditions of majority Muslim world have adapted too many problematic customs over time.

      Without going far looking for Islam scholars to find out about the teaching of Islam vis-à-vis marriage/divorce, I found the following article about legal issues of divorce in the Muslim world from the US legal perspective which summarizes some of what I knew before and lots of what I didn’t know quite nicely.

      Marriage in Islam is often referred to in a poetic manner describing the love and mutual rights that exist between men and women.[4] Islam puts a strong emphasis on mutual love and respect between a husband and wife.[5] Men are also specifically commanded to treat their wives with kindness and respect. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: “The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife.”[6]

      … If a wali is not present a woman must be past puberty and competent to make the decision to marry.[16] There are no requirements regarding who can propose marriage.[17] One historical event in the Prophet Muhammad’s life reflecting this principle is the proposal of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad.[18] Khadija was the Prophet Muhammad’s employer, and through working with him she grew to respect his honesty and integrity and proposed marriage to him.[19] Khadija was 25 years older than the Prophet Muhammad and in a much better financial position at the time of the proposal.[20] He accepted her proposal and their marriage is known for the love and compassion they had for one another.[21]

      This proposal illustrates the ability of Muslim men and women to marry whomever they choose, and highlights the fact that marriages arranged without the consent or involvement of Muslim women is completely contrary to the Islamic tradition. There is a documented decision by the Prophet Muhammad where a girl approached him stating her father forced her into marriage.[22] The Prophet Muhammad gave her the choice to either accept the marriage or invalidate it immediately due to the duress involved.[23] Although Islam provides many rights to women regarding marital issues, cultural traditions can greatly influence the proposal and acceptance process beyond the Islam requirements and, in some cases, directly contradict Islamic practices.

      Please read the rest here.

      Thank You.

      • Tewelde gebremariam

        Hi Fanti Ghana,

        Your response contradicts what has been reality for centuries. If , as you asserted, it were up to the Muslim women to choose whom to marry , I am definitely certain they would not choose the man with multiple wives as is the case. And as the wives would naturally be of different ages, although the rule may say that he has to treat them equally, his human nature may compel him to have favorites, probably the younger ones, which, I hope you agree with me, would create resentment among those slighted. And such situation, nobody with the right kind of moral caliber can say, is a willful choice of the women.

        The plight of the Muslim women is real and on this Women Day, instead of rationalizing, we must help them confront their problem headon to ssecure their liberty and equality for ever. But remember the Muslims have a point on their side to maintain the yokes on their women because they do not like what they see in the promiscuous behavior some of the so called liberated Christian women are exhibiting. Promiscuity of women/men heralds decadence of family, tradition , society and Sovereignty. We must fight both.

        • Fanti Ghana

          Hello Tewelde,

          I am sorry if I wasn’t clear on what I was trying to say above.

          I really don’t have a single disagreement on your overall message about “the plight of the Muslim women.” What I attempted to do was to separate what led to their current state from that of what the religion Islam says about women. The way you put your last sentence on your previous post, “… It is quite different in the Islam Faith because the man can have many wives…,” needed clarification because the Islam Faith is completely opposite when it addresses women’s issues than what the misconstrued stereo typical and tradition based practices most of us are accustomed to.

          To be blunt, what I am trying to say is that just because we saw a Christian killing another Christian let’s be careful from stating that the Bible condones murder.

          That article I linked earlier is really well organized summary of what Islam says about marriages and Divorces, and if you get a chance and read it you will see where I am coming from.

          Let’s make peace!

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam Fanti,
            .
            Due to the lack of time, I will restrict my comment to the following.
            .
            I am all ears to hear from educated Muslim Women about the subject. My ears get to hurt progressively, when the noise comes from Muslim men to Christian men. I am not disqualifying them but ….
            .
            As to my buddy Fanti, I will recommend a set of books written by a Saudi “Princess” to broaden his horizon.
            Fanti and I are polar apart and hopefully the truth lies in the middle.
            .
            Mr. K.H

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Again Brother KH,

            I agree. We need women scholars to shade some light for us, but let’s be clear on the subject/s.

            – Muslim men and women in marriage and Divorce.
            – What Islam says about Marriage and Divorce.
            – What tradition have done to/for both.

            If you agree, I elect Khedija and sara as my experts. You pick your own.

          • T..T.

            Hi Fanti Ghana and Tewelde gebremariam

            Since you are seeking scholarly view, here’s what studies found:

            The fact that Islam requires the would-be husband of more than one wives to treat them equally in everything, all aspects of life and love, the right and its requirements make it difficult to comply with. Therefore, the right to marry upto four is conditional and only by violation of the attached conditions one can marry more than one. However, travelers who have high desires and cannot stay away even for a night they may have to enjoy Nikah Urfi marriage (a short term marriage with commitments in case of any offspring). In short the right and its linked conditions to be met in case of marrying more than one is very scary and that’s why almost all Muslim they don’t exercise it.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello T..T.,

            “…and its requirements make it difficult to comply with.”

            Exactly my point. It is equivalent to our (Christian’s) “you may drink, but don’t get drunk.” Well, when do I stop? When I start to laugh too loud? When all women start to look attractive? When the wall begins to tilt? May be the drinking window was left open for reasons long forgotten. Maybe alcohol in moderation is medicine? Hmm.

            You see, there was a good reason for including the “up to 4 wives” clause, but my opinion is that the real reason got modified to extinction by MEN.

            But,but,but, all that is not even the issue really. The real issue is that we are so biased and bigoted beyond recognition that every statement we make regarding these and similar issues, we can’t make them without including our subliminal attack on Islam. That was my intended message although I went all over the globe to make it.

            Thanks T..T.

          • T..T.

            Hello Fanti Ghana,

            Some wealthy muslims and leaders are seen marrying more than one. Why?

            Well, in some cases a wealthy Muslim husband with his wife’s consent decides to take another wife just to help a widowed woman. He may retain or may consummate the marriage one day and divorce the widowed women the next day solely for the purpose of providing her and her children with future financial support. This could also happen if the existing wife is barren and the existing wife agrees to co-wife for the sake of having children in the family. In any case the requirement of treating wives equally transforms the husband and his wives to selfless lovers focusing more on giving than receiving.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello T..T.,
            Imagine how many ladies would line up to marry Bill Gates if the law would allow it!

      • Dear F.G.,

        I am not saying that the way of Christian marriage is covered with roses and it is full of happiness; not at all. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to understand how big and just should the heart of a man be, to have abundant and equal love for the many women he is married to simultaneously. Even the Lord had a preference. When he accepted Abel’s gift and not that of Cain’s, the latter got so angry that he killed his only brother. Therefore, sharing love among for e.g. 4-5 women and sometimes more, and giving all the love to a single woman does not have the same effect on the receiver.

        Even nature teaches us that a one-man and a one-wife relationship is natural, by making the ratio of male to female (human and all species) almost 1:1. Why do human beings hoard money and like to own everything, although they know that they are not going to use them during their lifetime, and sometimes, even in the lifetime of their children’s children. Don’t you think that having many wives is an extension of human greed, and has nothing to do with religious rightness? When old men have many wives aged sixty to twenty, it is a sign of power, and nothing else?

        When hundreds of children and grandchildren come from the same gene, and other genes are lost because they cannot marry and procure their own descendents, do you think that that is a natural process? When social laws do not conform to natural laws, don’t you think that the result is regression? One can also doubt if indeed a Muslim woman can freely say that she loves the young man next door. Let us not mention the so called honor-killings of a young Muslim woman for falling in love with a man of other ethnic group or religion. Arranged marriage, I think, is the norm rather than the exception, and there is no way a young Muslim woman would marry a man older than sixty for love and with her consent, to become one of his many wives.

        If the prophet Mohammed married a woman 25 yrs older than him, or Abraham had a son from his slave woman at the age of >100 yrs old (believe and do not examine), it does not mean that this is the norm or the teaching of either Islam or Christianity. We should take into consideration, the situations under which such things occurred, if indeed they really occured.

        • Fanti Ghana

          Hello Brother Horizon,

          Nice talk. I will back track a little and I may even veer slightly off.

          How I got into this with Tewelde was because he, innocently, tried to equate Christian divorce with that of Islam, and I was trying to warn him the pitfall he was headed into.

          He said something to the effect of when the Christian woman gets divorced, she gets half of the property, but when Muslim woman divorces she leaves with nothing, and tied it with “Islam Faith.” Although I understand where this comes from, and I am not blaming Tewelde at all because that is how most if not all of us understand it, but I wanted to point out the fact that it is a serious error.

          In the first place, there is no divorce in the Christian Faith (Mathews 19: 5-8). So, that rules out the “she gets half” part. The Christian woman is getting half because the secular law allowed her to do so. Second, Muslim divorce is a little too complicated to put it in one basket and declare “she leaves empty handed.” It is not true. The financial arrangement in the Muslim marriage and the type of divorce has to be examined from top to bottom.

          As far as the secular law is concerned, where ever the Christian woman is allowed to get half of the property so is the Muslim woman. Now, we can blame the Christian woman for not abiding by her religion or we can blame the Muslim woman for abiding by hers, but anything else is comparing apples and oranges.

          Another stereo type that has been hammered all the way down to our subconscious is the allowed number of wives. Every time one of us says it, it is with unmistakable hint of superiority complex. The reason Islam allowed up to 4 wives had a solemn beginning. For most part, it was meant to help those women with no means of economic survival such as women with children and no income. No doubt it has been exploited by men over the centuries, but what Islam teaches about it is actually impressive and progressive.

          It encourages one man one woman above all, but allowed a window open mostly for the reasons I mentioned with a cap of 4 at the most, and they must be treated and loved equally. That is hard to do and obviously it is put that way because it is the most effective way of discouraging it. So, indirectly blaming Islam as if it requires every Muslim man to marry 4 or more wives is misleading and unfair.

          Bottom line: are women having the short end of the stick in all walks of life, in all countries, in all continents, and in all religions, in all traditions? Yes. Should we try to do something about it? Definitely. My only concern and advice is that let’s identify sources of our problems carefully.

          (Sorry Horizon, I am trying to kill 10 birds with one stone.)

          PS:
          – Marriage is practiced in both Islam and Christianity for the purpose of reproduction.
          – In both religions, a man is superior to a woman.
          – Both religions advice men to love, cherish, respect… their women.

  • Mesfin

    Greetings AT and Semere

    Great article as always.well, few people might understand your articlr. I agree to the sttement you made that women are supirior to man. You are taking about my mother, and my mothers. We, men and women have been slaves of the thieves, HGDF. It makes it worse to see mothers dancing withthe tritors. I hope that my sisters do not fall in the same trap. Woman, be the good leader as you are in your own house.You are the deal-breaker. You are the tourch. Now, stand up and fight for your freedom, stop being subservant. Cryout loud for yourself, for your cildren, your brothers and sisters.

    Long live the great moto of Eritrean women

    Regards
    Mesfin

  • Tzigereda

    Dear Sem,
    Well done! Thank you!
    I may come back, gizie intereKibe.

    • Asmerom

      Tzigereda Haile Attempts to hypersexualize Eritrean men, and trivialize Eritrean Women Freedom Fighters and the organization they decided to join and fight for. First, Eritrean Women Freedom Fighters are witnesses to massacring and rape perpatrated by ETHIOPIANs, upon seeing and experiencing such atrocities commited by Ethiopians, they made a choice to defend THEMSELVES and their Nation. Second, the author Generalized a whole society based on… stories, if you can even call them that. Third, Eritrean Freedom Fighters, EPLF and ELF, Women AND Men, were known for EMPOWERING Eritrean women all over the country from the rural areas to the urban areas, all of which has been heavily documented by countless journalists and foreign agencies.

  • Dear Lamek,

    It is the manifestation of his insecurity, low self-esteem, and immaturity. Small minds discuss people to boost their self-esteem; and there is no remedy for such pathetic creatures. You cannot teach them and they never learn. Ignore him.

  • saay7

    Selamat Cousin Sem:

    Well done for highlighting this important issue. African Americans in the US ask, “If February is Black History Month, does that mean March-January…. are White History Month?” Similarly here, if International Women’s Day is March 8, does that mean, March 9 – March 7 are International Men’s Day?

    I told you this, so don’t pretend to be surprised:

    1. There is an element of Aboy Feqadu BaElom y’na’adu in the choice of your title: are you referring to yourself as enlightened? 🙂

    2. I am sure when you, a male, are dispensing advise to women of what they must do, they are rolling their eyes at you.

    Now then, more seriously. My observations:

    1. Eritrean culture, at least highland Eritrean culture, is very dismissive of the Eritrean woman. I once saw a video presented by the Network of Eritrean Women (NEW) where an activist simply recites a list of Tigrinya proverbs…and it is cringe-worthy.

    2. Cultures, customs, are stubborn things, and they take a long time to change. I can’t blame PFDJ for that. It is just frustrating when the leaders of PFDJ refuse consider the possibility that the militarization of Eritrea may have set women’s rights back significantly. Tele Zuri interviewed Yemane Gebremeskel and there is utter shock in his face that the Human Rights Council reported that there is impunity for government officials to do whatever they want with women. Now, if you are an Eritrean girl or woman who has been wronged, would you see this guy as someone who would give a fair hearing to your accusations? Heres the video if you have the patience:

    http://www.telezueri.ch/104-show-zueriserie/6977-episode-brennpunkt-eritrea/14621-segment-brennpunkt-eritrea-teil-3-lang-interview-mit-yemane-ghebremeskel

    3. Eritrean women appear to be as inward-looking as Eritrean men and by that I mean Eritrean politics (at the opposition level and government level) is famous for one thing: an extremely poor network by geography (with fellow Africans) by values (international political organizations that share our values.) Consequently, we are all little islands. I wonder if when you say women should set up their own grassroots organizations you have considered this: that they may do so on the basis of “sisterhood”–irrespective of nationality–or stay confined to “Eritrean women.” For example, in 2015, the African Union Agenda 2063 has an entire section for WOMEN’S ECONOMINC EMPOWERMENT AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

    4. Related to the above, consider the following: the two African countries with some of the best records in gender parity are Botswana (a multi-party democracy) and Rwanda (an authoritarian dictatorship.) Now, should women pursue women’s empowerment irrespective of the type of government which will exist in Eritrea? I have a friend who often threatens that she is ditching the opposition to join the PFDJ because at least they throw great parties.

    5. According to the AFDB, Eritrea is ranked somewhere in the middle of the Africa Gender Equity. AfDB uses the following for its ranking: equality in economic opportunites; equality in human development; and equality in laws and institutions. Its lowest contributer is equality in human development and that is MOSTLY due to the PFDJ AND THE CULTURE’s failure in promoting gender parity in education.

    http://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Publications/African_Gender_Equality_Index_2015-EN.pdf

    6. Related to the above, the Gender Parity Index is primarily driven by a country’s investment in education and its drive to ensure female participation all the way to tertiary education. And you have read my frequent railing on the subject but the single most consequential thing the government can do there is to separate two institutions: the military and the educators.

    Thanks for a great read!

    • Semere Andom

      Hi Sal;

      Thank your “articletta”;-)

      1. I agree there are many put-down proverbs, sebeyti ab salsti, beray ab melsi”, the insinuation being, a man must beat his wife once every other day and a farmer beat his harnessed oxen at every turn, there are many

      2. PFDJ cannot change the culture overnight and 4o years is overnight for a culture, but it job is to set laws and follow them and. These (PFDJ) are men who killed and tortured the first women to join its ranks, source. T. Temnewo.

      3. I considered both: they can do it as part of continental or international as you say, but most importantly I was thinking about dissociating their organization from the national agenda even, the opposition does a lousy job about it. I was thinking along, for example diaspora women in the west who can sponsor girls inside Eritrea or those in refugee camps to help them with immigration, settlement, education, counseling etc

      Many of the girl who went to Sawa and NS have experienced a lot of abuse and they either suppress it or even apologize for PFDJ at times, “wetehaderat ediyom”, this is bad and I think you and I discussed it before. I have a friend who always pulled that line on me when go on PFDJ, but one day on the tel, one of here PFDJ supporter made some remarks about how PFDJ cares about people and she snapped and his jaw was still on the floor when I saw him hours later when he came to apologize to her in person. And all the stories I hear shattered my faith that Eritreans will not do this to their own. So although PFDJ/EPF cannot change culture overnight they can show willingness, and live by example, that is their responsibility. I know you do not disagree. I am just saying.

    • Collateral Damage

      Dear Saay
      I have one question and I am not sure whom to ask, I presume you are a senior forumer. This is my first comment on Awate(“Ke admachinet wede tesatafinet” a common cliche from Ethiopian radio audiences in late 90s)
      in 2002 Boarder ruling most of the contested land is awarded to Eritrea including the flash point bademe, but a considerable size of the contested land is awarded to Ethiopia too(some says 40%), my questions is , is there a land which is awarded by the court to Ethiopia but currently occupied by Eritrea? I tried to search evidences but I couldn’t find a nonpartisan answer.
      Thanks in advance

      • saay7

        Selamat Collateral:

        Welcome to awate.com. Enkwan dehna Metu. Over in the Eritrean highlands they give guests injera and onions…pick yours up at onion.com.

        Now then. Using the word “occupy” in its dictionary definition, and not its political definition (occupy against someone’s will:), yes, Eritrea does occupy Ethiopian territories awarded to Ethiopia by the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission. I don’t know to what extent they are populated although when the ruling was fresh we poured over the maps and found that yes, in the central sector, yes indeed.

        Follow this link, and you will see a map of what was claimed by Eritrea and Ethiopia, and what was awarded to Eritrea and Ethiopia. Way back in 2002 (almost 14 years ago):

        http://www.eritrea.be/old/eritrea-ethiopia-boundary.htm

        saay

        • Dear Saay,

          Any idea why FM, Seyoum Mesfin said what he said, as long as he was going to be disproved the next day? Is it possible that he relied on a paper he received from a person who misinformed him somehow? Could he be unaware of the final decision that Badme was awarded to Eritrea?

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Horizon,
            until Saay answers, that is the most likely scenario. A close second could also be that he glanced at the map, saw a good chunk of the surrounding land awarded to Ethiopia, and declared victory to only realize that the town is on the “wrong” side and it won’t sit well with Ethiopians.

          • saay7

            His Fantiness:

            Refer to my response to Horizon. One additional consideration, the EEBC judges, in their ruling, were mum on the precise co-ordinates of Badme because they wanted to give whoever lost the opportunity to save face and manage expectations.

            saay

          • saay7

            Selamat Horizon:

            At the time Ethiopia was celebrating its victory, the Eritrean government was in its “we have chosen to be silent” phase. And this writer for awate, using just publicly available information argued that Badme had been awarded to Eritrea:

            the proof that Badme Town was given to Eritrea is not hidden in carefully worded language or map co-ordinates. It is out there, in black and white….but you have to make one assumption to accept it…. There is a logical reason to believe that Eritrea has prevailed on Badme Town. Let me demonstrate:

            After two years of war and carnage, Eritrea and Ethiopia (and their dozens of high-priced lawyers) would have to present claims (arguments, maps, etc) that included Badme Town on their side of the territory.

            But wait a minute, you say. This assumes that Eritrea and Ethiopia know the precise location of Badme Town. Isn’t that a big assumption? Doesn’t Eritrea’s ever shifting claim indicate that Eritrea wasn’t sure where Badme Town is? Well, no. In all its claims, Eritrea was sure to include Badme Town in its side of the border. (Again, Point 4 doesn’t count as an argument.) Eritrea held Badme Town from May 1998 to February 1999 (nine months); Ethiopia held the town from February 1999 to present (not to mention 1991 – 1998). It strains credulity to accept that, during this period, the two governments had not conducted GPS to determine the location. In fact, there is every reason to believe both Eritrea and Ethiopia know the precise co-ordinates of Badme Town (never mind Seyoum Mesfin’s big production about taking cartographers with him…)

            Well, at least Eritrea does. And here’s why.

            As early as November 1988, the diplomatic mission in Asmara had conducted GPS. According to the Indian Ocean Newsletter (Nov 14, 1988), the Asmara based diplomats, having conducted GPS, were able to ascertain that Badme was 4 kilometers west of the border and that Zalambessa, too, was inside Eritrean territory. (This is around the time we shifted our argument from claiming, “we were holding Zalambesa for strategic and defensive reasons only” to “we are holding it because it is ours.”) What maps did they use? Soviet era maps, the same ones used by Eritrea and Ethiopia in their pleadings. They don’t give the co-ordinates for Badme but, in the case of Zalambessa, the GPS conducted by the Asmara-based diplomats in 1988 showed that the “southern tip” of Zalambessa had the following coordinates: 14. 30′ 88″ N; 39. 23′ 44″ E. If you do a detailed grid of EEBC Map 11, you will verify for yourself that the Asmara-based diplomats were right on the money.

            What does that prove? Weren’t the diplomats “wrong” on Zalambessa? Well, no. Ethiopia got Zalambessa purely on the “administration” argument” that is why it is carved in such an odd manner. The diplomats were right on Zalambessa and right on Badme Town.

            In short, Eritrea’s claim that it won Badme Town is based on the argument of, “we claimed the Tomsa-Mai Ambessa line and we were awarded the Tomsa-Mai Ambessa line.”

            <A HREF You can read the whole thing here including what I mean by Point 4.

            Now, why did FM Seyoum Mesfin make the statement he made?

            1. The “He Was Misled” Argument

            He genuinely believed he had won partly because a person who was a huge fixture at the time, Paul Henze, emphatically said Ethiopia had prevailed on all its arguments. The Ethiopian government was so confident that it would prevail using the argument that it administered the area for very long time, it essentially gave away Monoxeito that the EEBC judges said, “well, the facts show it belongs to you, but if you insist so emphatically that it doesn’t belong to you, who are we to disagree with your claim.”

            2. The “It’s Part Of A Long History of Fibbing By the Foreign Ministry

            Well, for that, one to have been immersed in the litany of fibs the Gov of Ethiopia told in the person of Salome Taddesse, mostly. And maybe it was important, on that particular day, for him to be the Fenj Regach. He wouldn’t survive the post-Badme purge that went on within TPLF: he was given the Siberian tour of duty (actually, Ambassador to Russia) which he declined. And, given his role as the peace-maker of IGAD’s mediation of South Sudan, we also have to consider the possibility (impolite as it may be) that he is not the sharpest tool in the tool kit.

            saay

        • sara

          Dear saay
          thank you for the link, i will take that map to the bank.

          • Abi

            Hi sara
            Good idea! Keep it in the bank. I will take it to the commodities exchange market to exchange badime with Assab or Keren or both.

        • Collateral Damage

          Thank you Saay, I picked my injera and onion it’s delicious.

          The map was helpful but not exactly what I was looking, specifically I am looking for a map or info that shows ,
          1. Territories claimed by Eritrea or Ethiopia, awarded to Ethiopia but currently occupied by Eritrea
          2. Territories claimed by Ethiopia or Eritrea, awarded to Eritrea but currently occupied by Ethiopia

          The map says nothing about the current status of the area.I was going to take the bold line as the current status , but that is not the case because if it were Eritrea wouldn’t have an issue by now.

          I always thought Eritrea has a strong case in international law , but if it hasn’t withdrawn its forces or jurisdiction from territories awarded to Ethiopia, doesn’t that make their case weak?
          (It’s like my sister claiming I am eating from her portion, to which I automatically present evidence she is also eating from my side except I happen to chunk a little bigger, that automatically weakens her case in front of our parent).

          and it made me chuckle when I read your comment about Danakil Depression, they didn’t call it depression for nothing.

          • saay7

            Selamat Collateral:

            This is what makes it a little different from the case of you and your sister sharing a plate: it is pitch dark and the plate is rotating, like the ones in a Chinese restaurant.

            But seriously. If you take a look at the map and we just focus on the Western sector, you can draw a line southwest from Mai Ambessa/Mereb confluence and it would be entirely indistinguishable from another “like”: that is, the the line only connects two points and it follows no natural boundaries (hills, rivers.) So, in that area, if:

            (a) Eritrea asks Ethiopia: let’s demarcate it (put pillars on the ground) and Ethiopia rejects it;
            (b) The EEBC conducts a “virtual demarcation” (delimitation with co-ordinates) and Ethiopia rejects it;
            (c) Is there a way for Eritrea to avoid occupy Ethiopian land–unless it were to unilaterally hire Trump Enterprises and build a tall wall, a beautiful wall and make Mexico pay for it?

            What I am saying is that it is impossible to “withdraw” from territories without natural identifiers because you don’t even know you are crossing some arbitrary lines.

            And be kind to your sister.

            saay

  • Nitricc

    Hi; i just can’t help it but to say something.
    A- if you are not an Ethiopian why don’t you tell this toothless friend of yours? What are afraid of?
    B- Since he is a water expert; why don’t ask him what the problem with Flint Michigan; where the children of a super power country are poisoned to irreversible damage?
    C- Ask him how much Aid Eritrea got from his super power country.
    D- He is not bigot; he is telling you the truth; I know truth hurts.
    E- be honest to your self; tell him your nationality.

    • Ted

      Hi Nitricc, strange strange strange.
      The point of USA going to Ethiopia is not about food aid, it is CIA’s way of accessing and assessing the dying TPLF situation.
      What about our queen of lies, deceit and mischief. She is quite the character, She knew nothing had happened however she intentionally did the job of her TPLF bosses to disseminate the fabricated news. To lie is one thing but to have no shame doing it is scary and sickening thing

      • Nitricc

        Hey Ted; it gets worst. TPLF is cornered in every corner of the country. Now; Gojjam on the move; one good news for the people of Tigray is though; watch this fresh the following clip and you shall see what is going on. I am posting the clip just to cause Hayat a sleep-less night. Ted, I think TPLF is toasted let alone to attack anyone.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ21gOrCOUs

  • Hayat Adem

    Dearest SemereA,
    Nice read. We owe you, Semere for all the recent great write ups. Eritrean women work triple harder and benefit thrice worse. Tell me if there is anywhere on earth more hellish for women. The positive note is women are also quicker to see a failing system though they always hesitate and avoid the roughest ways of changing things. Herford said, a woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s because she changes it more often. Women now clearly know what is happening surrounding their families. They know how trusting crazy men to make good of the pure support granted was the biggest mistake. What are the chance’s a 63 years old would change his views as he learns more of the same crimes committed by a 70 years old criminal after he has mistaken him for a Christ of Africa?

    • Abi

      Hayat tsbuqti
      Is is true that Eritrean tegadelti also the meanest? I heard they kill just to show they are brave or equal to their men counterparts. I heard they are merciless and the most feared. ” setwa endatagegnih” is how they were described.
      Am I way off?

      • Hayat Adem

        Sweet Abi,
        No, you are not way off. We’re more perfectionist and committed to a cause compared to men. We show our biological intensity during love. And if it is not love, it is still the same. So blame it on the system who turned those loving creatures, tegadelti into a killing machine. You might have noticed how I was attracted to what Amde and Fanti were sharing on the history of the powerful Ethiopian queen Gudit. She is a perfect film character. So, sometimes strong women are also strong stories. So tell me if you have more woemn like that. Do you personally have a woman hero from history or recent times?

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Dear abi
        There is no gentleness in battlefield, either you kill or get killed. That’s why battles are fought to end war. Yes, female tegadelti were fierce in battlefields, their enemies knew it and prayed they didn’t encounter them. I believe the reason, unlike Hayat’s assertion, it is in the gene of all females. The famous saying that you shouldn’t mess with a mother tigress is suffice to give you a hint. All mothers are more prepared to die defending their young and what they consider theirs. Blame that to evolution. Female tegadelti had seen their loved ones killed, imprisoned or toughened up in a way it deplored them of basic dignity. In addition, their people and comrades, and the mission they joined to accomplish could all be considered as their loved ones for whom they would be ready to do the best they could to defend.

        • Abi

          Selam Teg (TegenTay) Mahmud
          Good one!
          I have never met one so far. I have met a former tegadalay turned a singer at an Eritrean wedding. I forgot his name. He is short, dark skin with arbegna style hair style.
          Anyway, I try to stay away from a tegadelti wherever there is a battle of any sort. No thank you.
          Gomen beTwna yene wendim.

    • Nitricc

      Hi Hayat; you said..
      “women are also quicker to see a failing system”
      Do they see things; like things never happened too; you know like the surgical attack against a nation? You are disgrace to talk about any positive and peace. Stick to your wishes of death, war, distraction, civil war and surgical attack. The amazing thing is whenever bad you wished for Eritrea, it comes back right to your country. Go check what is happening to your TPLF thugs.

      • Hayat Adem

        Hi Nitricc,
        1) I just blew it. And it was not just because I was careless and picked it from rumors, it was from usually a dependable human source. That was why I said it confidently when I said it again. It is still a person of integrity and apparently he may have been misled too. I learned my lessons. My apology to you and every Awatista for falling for it.
        2) Hayat doesn’t represent women, so don’t attribute every misspeaking by me characterize women.
        3) You have been feeding us here a lot of untruthful and unverified info and at times with the intent of lying and misinforming. Mine was just this but misinform by design. You should be the last person to say to me what you just said above.
        4) If you care more about PFDJ and IA, you don’t care about Eritrea and its people. It an either or thing. So, keep on praising IA, and you will be fine. Eritrea’s and Eritreans’ interests and aspirations are mutually exclusive with that of PFDJ and IA. Don’t mix the two.
        5) I don’t wish, I can’t wish death and I was not wishing war. Civil war is a real likelihood. For a person of my level, it is easy to see. Totalitarian systems are never sustainable beyond a certain level often lead to chaos and violent transitions unless replaced early enough by carefully planned transitional systems. PFDJ would never allow such space. The surgical military package I’m in favor of is meant to transition the Eritrean political system without it is too late and Eritrea enters an irreversible path of civil war.
        Hayat

        • Nitricc

          Hi Hayat
          The bottom line is you are a liar and I am glad we established that. Now; you said
          “ 3) You have been feeding us here a lot of untruthful and unverified info and at times with the intent of lying and misinforming. Mine was just this but you always do misinform by design. You should be the last person to say to me what you just said above.”
          What have I said that wasn’t true? What exactly did I say? True, you told us you were kicking it with Kiros Alemayo and when you tried to mislead people about your age; I brought that up. When you told white lie about PIA drinking 1000 ml Johnny walker whisky in an hour by himself; I have told you it is impossible and you are liar. Now; what is exactly I have mislead you?

          • Hayat Adem

            Nitricc,
            Your lies are countless that if remove the lies from each comment there will be nothing left. Just how many lies are in this last comment above of yours?
            -Where did you get the impression that I met Kiros in person? And you wouldn’t stop even if you are told, you wouldn’t stop even when told, you don’t even restrain for sake of respecting a dead person who may have left a family, maybe a wife, too?

    • dawit

      Hi Hayatina,
      Dawit have updated ‘Christ of Africa’ to include every Eritrean Tegadalay and Tegadalit as “Christs of Africa”. They are he true followers of the teaching of the Christ of Nazareth, those who sacrificed their only life to the cause of Liberty for their people from all sort of oppressions and exploitations by other human beings irrespective of race, gender or religion and PIA is their leader.

      • Hayat Adem

        dawitom,
        this must be the other Isaias yet to come. in that case i have no issue with the name if that Isaias yet to come really carries the character you just described. i will look forward to seeing him sooner than later.

        • Semere Andom

          Hi Hayat:

          When debating the 63 young man, remember the disturbing facts Sal succinctly summarized when they were debating last time:

          “Dawitism appears to be outraged by the death of one king (“a leader”) and seems to be uninterested about the hundreds if not thousands that Gaddaffi raped, tortured and killed in his 40 plus year of rule. You are uninterested in damning evidence and testimonies of the victims so, yes, we move on.”

          What that means is that if TPLF tomorrow invades Eritrea and the 70 years old IA hides in the Sahel mountains or in Saudi Arabia and TPLF occupies Eritrea and appoints someone as a governor, our slim handed man will recite “zenegese ngusena….” and he will be a willing supporter of whatever system TPLF gives us.

          • dawit

            Cousin SEM,
            You need to be ‘Born Again’ to understand the rudimentary knowledge of ‘Dawitism’.

        • dawit

          Hallelujah! Hayatina! Praised be the Lord!,
          I never expected you will to be the first to accept ‘Dawitism’! Yes be patient and wait for the next Christ! That was the central message what Dawitism has been preaching all along. Sooner than later the present Christ will expire and the next one will follow. No need for selective surgery. Leave it to God to do his Elective surgery. The God of Eritrea will not fail His People. He has been with them through bad and good times. Just have faith in God!
          Cheers,
          dawit

  • Sarah Ogbay

    Dear Semere,
    Well said. It is indeed nice and comforting to read articles like yours, Aklilu’s and Tsigereda’s. I included Tsigereda’s because it was the first article I read about a woman’s (especially tegadalit’s) experience from the horse’s mouth. I have always hear or read issues and experiences of sexual abuses among Eritreans mirrored by a third person. Tsigereda is a brave woman. I hope others follow her footsteps so that we all can have a better picture of the experiences of the Eritrean woman. Aklilu gave used our social scale and how our tegadelty (women) are viewed and delivered. You just reflected on both! I am loving it!!!!!
    2 articles on Eritrean women in less than 10 days! What a great month!
    Thank you Semere!

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello Everyone,

    “The Good girl never complained when she awoke at down before everyone in her family  and hand milled grains (tihina, lenkita) for Kitcha; milked the goats to make birah, tesmi and likai; fetched water for the family from far away ruba with Mai Zmelee Utro or waterskin carried on her back ; never flinched when she collected wood and carried the load on her back; never complained about fumes from burning wood (or Kubo,Fandia- dried dunk  from cows and donkeys); never said I am tired while toiling (gardening, weeding) with a baby (sister, brother, niece, nephew, cousin) strapped on her back and so on and so forth.” The Good Tegadalit, Aklilu Zere.

    “So they start groping and harassing you at night. The endless night fighting starts when an intruding hand touches you. You throw back the long arm in strong disapproval of the impertinent behaviour.  Again and again anew you repulse the attack; you try to whisper your determined “gidef” (stop it!). For fear of a louder “No!” you hope he can’t go further since the place is surrounded by many others.  But he would also not give up… How I hated those nights, those sleepless nights. Kitinkifeni, mulue leyti, kiribisheni hadiru (he was groping and harassing me the whole night) is what you could tell or keep it to yourself the next day and retain it in your–and only your–memory.” “Mistir Leyti”: Secret of The Night, Tzigereda Haile

    “There are two parts that are stumbling blocks to your true emancipation: the institutional part that pays lip service and exploits your trust and patience, kindness and generosity and the cultural side that favors men. Through your struggles for the last fifty years, you have made a dent on some cultural aspects and, to your credit, you have emancipated many an Eritrean man but you have not emancipated yourselves yet from both the cultural and institutional harness.” The Eritrean Woman: Reverie of an Emancipated Eritrean Man, Semere Andom

    Men:
    Let’s promise to ourselves to try to remember what women in general and women in third world countries in particular go through every day. We understand that we can’t change every layer upon layer of beliefs, traditions, and customs over night, but if we make an honest effort to improve our understanding we can definitely score few victories here and there. A single gesture of kindness while keeping an open mind to their grievances and plight could make all the difference between an eventual victory and an eventual stagnation.

    It is sad to witness those with rare opportunity to learn and teach us ending up cutting all of us short by attempting to shove tongue rods, tattoos, and shaved legs down our throat, but we must never give up. The western world has its dilemmas as we have ours. They worry about whether there are enough women executives in the work place while our sisters worry about whether they feed the children before or after fetching water or milking the cow. As they assert their hard won freedom by refusing to apply makeup when they wish, our sisters look forward for that special holiday so that they can put their makeup and look pretty for a day. One is not necessarily right and the other wrong. What is important is for us to understand that an honest desire to improve one’s self works at any time in any hemisphere. Fighting for women’s rights don’t have to be a philosophical war of words. However, it does mean that having the conviction and desire to be fair and understanding with those around us.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Selam Semere
    A nice reflection, paying homage to our intelligent, resourceful, and gallant women. Yes, the 30% is a numerical proportion, a dry and expressionless rate. I agree that they were more than that, and any right they demand is not charitable. Much needed to be done to see Eritrean women occupy their rightful place in our society and its politics, but the following quote summarizes the essentials of their contribution.
    “You are not equal to men. Eritrean women are superior to Eritrean men. I hope this does not come across as condescending but I believe it with every fiber of my being. You have proved to be more flexible, more resilient, more tolerant, and more adaptive than the Eritrean man. Ghedli did not emancipate you, you emancipated it, you empowered it, you ensured its continuity, and you inspired and emancipated some of its men…”

  • Nitricc

    Hi Semere; Thanks honoring not only Eritrean women but on behave of ALL women. regarding Eritrean women; i have no worries, zero, nada zilch as long as there is SAWA and they are participating. I know you are against Eritrean women going to SAWA but i am huge for it. At the end of the day; Eritrean women will prevail because of SAWA. AT; can I make one last clip for the respect of the day; March 8? i will post it but if you think too much please remove it.
    Haftey Xegem yelen! long live SAWA and the sprite of the Eritrean women.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UBfJl0mhDE