Gemma Burgess


In Ethiopia a woman's identity is linked to her family and the prescribed gender role as a mother and home-maker, yet throughout Ethiopia's history there are examples of women who have roles that extend beyond the home and family into public, political life. This paper briefly describes this dominant gender identity of Ethiopian women before charting the changes to Ethiopian politics and women's place within them. It discusses how the shift to democratic politics opened new spaces for women's civil society activism. However, more recent political moves towards greater repression of civil society have closed the space for women's public, political activism, leaving the future of women's public role in question.

Note for Readers

To our readers: We regret to inform you that paragraphs 1 and 3 on page 104 of this article neglected proper citation. We have subsequently added the necessary footnotes (in September 2017). The wording and information in those segments comes directly from paragraph 3 on page 111 and paragraph 1 on page 112 of the chapter "Civil Society Organizations in Ethiopia" by Dessalegn Rahmato; In Ethiopia: The Challenge of Democracy from Below, edited by Bahru Zewde and Siegfried Pausewang (pp 103-119). Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet. 2002.

We apologize to the editors of the above volume and the author of the improperly cited text. The JIWS seeks to uphold the highest standards of publishing integrity, and we appreciate readers who come forward with information that helps us to stay accountable to our principles.

Author Biography

Gemma Burgess, Senior Research Associate Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research Department of Land Economy University of Cambridge