Departmental Bulletin Paper "A Woman Like a Man" and "A Stupid Woman" : The Narrative of Gendered Value and The Expansion of School Education in Maale, Southwestern Ethiopia

ARII, Haruka

54pp.101 - 114 , 2018-03 , The Research Committee for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
This article aims to clarify how the expansion of school education in rural Ethiopia influenced the lives and gendered value of women. To this end, the case of a woman without formal education who supported her eight daughters to attend school in Maale, southwestern Ethiopia is examined. In her narrative, I focus on her expressions that represent the ideal livelihood of women and her interpretation of her own life. Specifically, I focus on messages from parents to their daughters at wedding ceremonies, or elqamitsi in the Maale language. These messages often touch on the concept of ideal womanhood that mothers try to pass to their daughters. With this message and the life story it distils in the background, I examine how one woman interprets her life and her view of ideal womanhood. In addition, I clarify the impact of the expansion of formal school education in Maale. The spread of school education has at least two social functions for Maale women: It has helped them view their lives objectively and thus resist conventional wisdom; however, it has also strengthened the dilemmas emerging from social categories. The introduction of school education facilitates the reorganization of this self-evaluation by providing the categories of "the educated" and "the uneducated." Reflecting on themselves as uneducated and comparing themselves to the educated, Maale women are gaining the motivation to learn or to send the next generation to school. In this way, these women generate their own positive life stories based on objectification and the reinterpretation of social categories in terms of the newly introduced device of formal school education.

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