Seminar on Women and Gender issues
Where is the Nation Heading? Empress Menen School for Girls and the ‘New Era’ in Ethiopia (the 1940s-1950s)
Thursday 27th January, 2 PM
@ CFEE – French Center for Ethiopian Studies, Berhanu Abebe Library
By Pierre Guidi, Université de Paris, IRD, Ceped,
The 1940s-50s in Ethiopia were coined as the ‘New Era’ (Addis Zemen) by emperor Haile Selassie and the school-educated elites supporting his centralizing drive. In these decades, the school system has been expanded as the main bearer of the ideology of social progress. Using the elite institution Empress Menen School for girls as a case study, this presentation analyses the contents and objectives of girls’ education and the debates it fostered; the hopes and fears it raised concerning the future of the nation. Education and debates highlight a gendered perception of social change. While both women and men had to bear social progress, women had a double duty as they had in the meantime to “stabilize the march” in a perceived acceleration of time. That is why women claim for equality and emancipation in education, marriage, and the public space created very contending debates concerning male authority and the sustainability of the social order.