” The first girl at the first ever Karayu school, the Dandi Gudina Primary in Dhebiti village of Fantalle District, Aliya Hawas was the only girl in a class of forty-four boys. The struggle was not easy at all, in a society where neither men nor women ever attended school, in a culture where the common belief is that school girls end up becoming prostitutes, taking such a bold step meant rising above all societal reproaches and shunning the constant condescending remarks. With unflinching resolve, she pursued her education and studied Law in college. After serving GTF as a coordinator for education and women empowerment projects she studied Gastronomic Sciences at Gastronomic University in Turin, Italy.
Currently, Aliya is serving as a Senior Communication Officer at the Office of the Oromia Regional State President, coordinating and leading all communication related activities. Prior to that Aliya worked in Oromia Tourism Commission where she traveled extensively and had the opportunity to exercise her unique talent in photography, capturing the stunning beauty of Oromia’s forests and wildlife. This, of course, is not an easy achievement for a rural girl from Fantalle who had to endure oppositions from every side; being the only girl among forty-four boys, while constantly being told that a girl’s place is out in the field tending goats and cattle, taking care of the home chores and of course preparing for the traditional arranged marriage. “
Gender Inequality in Ethiopia
There is still significant gender inequality in education. The inequality remains even higher in rural communities where patriarchal and other traditional norms are taken seriously.
We are aware of the barriers to education in these areas and committed to doing our best to help tackle this societal problem. While these challenges affect the boys and girls alike, especially girls and women are the most affected due to the cultural bias towards them. When it comes to gender roles, it is the women who bear the brunt of child rearing, household chores thereby occupying a subservient position in society at large.
When we began our pioneering educational work among the Karrayu, our attempts to educate the Karrayyu girls encountered heavy resistance. As in many traditional societies, the Karrayyus believed girls have no right to learning. The only one girl in the very first school clearly showed the enormous resistance we faced and monumental task that lay ahead.
Despite the daunting initial challenges, our rigorous investment in education particularly girls’ education started to pay off. We focused on changing the mindset of the community who view girls and women as second-class citizens. In addition to changing the attitude of the community, we implemented women rights projects in the areas of FGM and female circumcision. Because of this today there is an increased awareness of girl’s education, rights and roles in society.
Another significant intervention was the construction of girl’s hostel in Dhebiti and Metahara town. Through these dormitories GTF accommodated many Karrayyu girls who otherwise would not be able to attend school.
Dhebiti Girls Hostel
- Established in 2005, the Dhebiti Girls Hostel was a safe haven for girls running away from early arranged marriages and harmful traditional practices such as the FGM and forced labor.
- In 2008, over 100 girls were accommodated at the hostel.