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Women’s Day : As We Celebrate Our Heroines

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Thursday, March 8th, 2018
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Throughout Ethiopia’s history, many Ethiopian women have contributed their shares for the social, economic and political makeup of the country, and have become icons to the present generation and the coming ones.

During times when women portrayed as inferior to men and supposed to fulfill merely domestic responsibilities, such as caring for children, preparing food, Ethiopian women, going beyond such domains and expectations, displayed patriotic commitments in various battlefields. Successively, they made significant differences in the country’s historical and political platforms and have bestowed sovereignty to generation.

This is particularly true in the Battle of Adwa. Ethiopian women, taking part in various domains, (as head of the army in military operation, strategists, advisers, translators and as intelligence officers) have played a decisive role in the Victory against colonial aggressors.

Though, there is no precise estimate, according to historians, the average number of women who took part in the campaign of Adwa is estimated to be over 20, 000.

While the majority served in non-combat activities such as food preparation, nursing the wounded soldiers, and being a pillar of strength by uplifting the morale of the fighters through popular battle songs and poetry, a significant number of women served as soldiers, strategists, advisers, translators and intelligence officers.

Many chronicles of the war wrote that the role of women in intelligence work was key in Ethiopia’s gaining the upper hand against fascist Italy. In this regard, women played a significant role in gathering information on the whereabouts of the enemy’s lines of combat.

Particularly, through the establishment of a team known as ‘Ye wust Arbegnoch’, women members helped provide soldiers with intelligence information as well as arms, ammunition food, clothing and medicine.

According to Tekle Tsadiq, band of women served their country by misleading enemy soldiers, displaying themselves from the hill top and shouting but disappearing suddenly from the site so that the site would be falsely targeted by the enemy.

 At the top of these women, however, comes Empress Taitu. The Empress regarded as an intelligent, astute and self-assured woman by many had her own battalion, which she bravely commanded in the battlefield, fighting in the frontline and motivating men against retreat.

She also mobilized women, both as fighters and nurses of wounded soldiers. By receiving and analyzing intelligence information, she facilitated the catastrophic defeat of the Italian colonial army and the abortion of their ambition of establishing a colonial foothold in Ethiopia.

The Victory, beyond having a special place in the hearts and minds of Ethiopians, is a symbol of freedom for the entire black people. The Victory was an event that awakened the hope for emancipation and the struggle against colonialism and racism among Africans who were in the colonizers. And, most importantly, it was also a victory that saw the importance of women participation and contribution in defending their country from foreign aggressors.

The Battle of Adwa did not remain the only campaign where women fought in the front-line for their country. Rather countless heroines sacrificed their younger age and their lives in war fronts that the country confronted at various times.

It is a recent history that thousands of young women sacrificed their lives engaging in the armed struggle to overthrow the military junta.

Many are also exerting tremendous efforts in their field and are contributing their share for the development of the nation. Their contribution cannot be ignored.

Ethiopians, while we are commemorating the Victory of Adwa and marking International Women Day, we have to remember and glorify hundreds of thousands of the posthumous heroines and give recognition to the living influential ones.

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