Help Fund PhD Research: An Anthropological Assessment of Gender and Power Relations in Ethiopia
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Help Fund PhD Research: An Anthropological Assessment of Gender and Power Relations in Ethiopia

Ph.D. candidate Desta Lorenso is pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Mekelle University located approximately 783 kilometers from Addis Ababa in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia. As part of his studies, Desta is raising money to support his research for his Ph.D. dissertation on the role of women in fighting for equality in the cultural setting of the Guraghe community in Ethiopia. The research is intended to explore the feminist movement in Ethiopia using the case of the Wuredot Kake and her struggle for equality and justice in the traditional society of Guraghe in the 1850s and to promote and add to historical accounts of academic literature as the oldest movements of women for their rights in the traditional society of Ethiopia.

Click on the following video for a theater production that demonstrates Wuredot Kake's fight for women's rights in the Guraghe community 150 years ago. 


Many times people will associate a Ph.D. with a significant investment of time and commitment for successful completion of such a degree, but money is also a critical component. According to the Association of Commonwealth Universities, funding for supporting doctoral education is severely lacking in Africa. Instead, funding is to support research conducted at a Master's level and not a doctorate level. As a result, your monetary contribution is necessary to support this dissertation research. However, your contribution will not only directly affect the success of this dissertation, but it will also directly affect the struggle for women’s rights in Ethiopia and around the world. This research will explain the feminist struggle of Wuredot Kake as the oldest struggle for women's rights and identify its historical grounds for the earliest struggle of women against oppression and inequality in Ethiopia and the world at large. So a Ph.D. dissertation of this topic is vital to further additional knowledge on women equality movements in the world and particularly in Ethiopia. Exploring gender power relations in a historical context of Ethiopia will contribute to social cohesion, peace, democracy, and prosperity in the country beyond extreme ethnicity. Ethiopian women have the power of cementing the current social crises and unrest.

The Ph.D. dissertation will focus on four main research questions:

  1. How this struggle affected the traditional rule of the Guraghe community (kicha) until now?
  2. What is the contribution of the struggle for women's equality in Ethiopia?
  3. What is the cultural resistance for the struggle?
  4. What is the contribution of Kake's struggle to the global feminist movement theory?
  5. What are the power relations elements and prospects in the struggle of Kake within the Guraghe community?


Qualitative research will be employed in the study for its appropriateness to assess how Wuredot accomplished her struggle. In particular, in-depth research will be conducted in eight woredas of the Guraghe Zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People Regional State (SNNPRS) and other nationalities related to that area. Data will be collected primarily through interviews of key informants to collect oral traditions, folklore, and stories of legends. Data will be collected using focus group discussions on traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and the cultural justice system, lineage, personal observation of the Ejoika traditional court system through oral accounts and document review of books, research, and unpublished reports written on the history of the Guraghe community.