Haramaya University Women Academic and Administration Workers Association Held its first General Assembly


Haramaya University Women Academics and Administration Workers Association (HUWAAWA) held its general assembly for the first time since its establishment in 2014 March 15, 2018 at Main Campus.
During the meeting, Ms. Eskedar Molla, a member of the association and volunteer facilitator for the assembly presented the rationale of the association’s establishment and works that have been done by the association since 2014.

The main aim of the general assembly, as expressed by Mrs. Mulu Birhanu, a Lecturer at Gender and Development Department and a PhD fellow at Maastricht School of Management, was to reactivate the association so that it energetically works as it used to do at the beginning.
Mrs. Mulu said, “During 2014, volunteer members conducted need assessment and presented analytical result to the concerned body, and the Association’s Article and Memorandum was also developed then. However, the works that were being carried out did not get to be finished because the association was not legalized.”
The general assembly aimed at electing the central committee which includes president and vice-president of the association as well as six other vital committees to strongly sustain and work towards its vision.
However, after a thorough discussion, the assembly decided to establish a nominating committee who will be responsible to carry out the election process which includes electing nominees for different positions, lobbying nominees to take up responsibility and finally make a present to the general assembly. 12 volunteer members were selected to function as nominating committee.
On a similar note, the Department of Gender and Development in collaboration with College of Social Sciences and Humanities, held a seminar entitled “We should all be feminists”, a seminar based on a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Adiche, a Nigerian writer and feminist.

Dr. Adinew Tadesse, Dean of the College, in his welcoming speech quoting World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report stated that “With this pace we, as an international being, are ‘over 200 years away’ from gender equality”. He emphasized the role of such kind of occasions and the responsibility that the scholarly community has to speed up the pace.

He added that we invited all staff members of the college aiming to initiate a debate on the discourse of feminism and gender equality, and the overall objective of the seminar was to create awareness among the university community on gender issues and thereby contribute towards making gender mainstreaming as an integral part of all levels of decision making process.

During the opening session, Dr. Yilfashewa Seyoum, Director for Academic Programs of HU said, “The seminar would be vital for demonstrated the advantages of applying gender mainstreaming to the management and personnel development systems. To this end, the University has been aggressively working towards establishing and maintaining gender equality at all spheres of campus life.”

In addition to organizing such kind of seminar and other activities, he also emphasized that “We [the University management] are committed to continue working with all stakeholders to provide opportunities for reforms on women’s empowerment and gender equality to be implemented effectively.”
On the seminar, different questions were raised for discussion, among those, how do we understand feminism and its goals?; Who can be a feminist in terms of sex, education, age, educational background, profession, etc.?; What do we, as social science academicians need to do about feminism? How much should it be our concern? Whose concern should it be?; and How do we improve a better understanding of this concept amongst ourselves?

Even though some participants identified themselves as feminists, for the fact that feminism is an ideology that advocates for equality of both sexes and thus can be owned by both men and women, other participants expressed their skepticism towards it for the assumption that it is an ‘imported ideology’ and thus not compatible to ‘our culture’. Other views such as the fact that an ideology is ‘western origin’ does not always make it wrong while being ‘an indigenous’ does not make it righteous, was also reflected. Although we do not necessarily call ourselves a feminist, our actions are usually compatible to what the ideology advocates for even before its existence.

The participants were able to present their own experiences, and together explored possibilities of idea transfer and it was concluded that the seminar would just serve as a dialogue starter, rather than an end for consensus in its own. It was recommended that all participants take the debate to their daily lives, teaching and learning as well as research and community activities, and reflect on it as a scholar and develop the discourse.

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