Eyerusalem: “My Experience as a Werdwet Fellow”

Werdwet Fellowship is a research fellowship program created by CARD to promote indigenous knowledge to fight inequality and look for ways of protecting the rights of vulnerable and minority groups in Ethiopia. The research fellowship program will also give women and youth opportunities to pursue their passion for researching and promoting their ideas to bring about a just society. One of the first research fellows, Eyerusalem B. Tulu has launched her research report on the 17th of February 2021 in Harmony Hotel with the presence of different stakeholders. Eyerusalm shares her experience as a Werdwet Fellow here below.

Eyerusalem Belay, 25, is a legal scholar and researcher.

As I look back on my journey as a Werdwet Fellow, I am overwhelmed by the sheer range of emotions I feel and have felt during this momentous journey. When I began the Werdwet Fellowship on July 1, 2020, I had just quit my job working for a law office and wanted to do something I genuinely enjoyed although, at the time, I wasn’t sure what that would be. Seven months later, I am walking away with an original research manuscript and a newfound passion for research, humanities, and the civil society sphere. During the course of the fellowship, I have had the distinct pleasure of watching my research idea turn into reality. It took hours of planning and designing, endless phone calls, weekly meetings, countless all-nighters, painful days of writers-block and yet when I look at the final manuscript, it was all worth it.

As a research fellow, I wanted to study the relationship between gender and religion, with a particular interest in exploring the possibility of gender empowerment within religious gatherings of Ethiopian women. The inspiration for the idea had come from my personal experience and a genuine curiosity to empirically observe and report on a previously unexplored idea. My initial intrigue had to however be methodologically evaluated, constructed, and reported if the study was to make any contribution to literature. That’s where the rigorous methodological discipline came into play, coming from a legal background I had a wonderful introduction to the world of qualitative studies and the art of listening to people, exploring their experiences to provide objective and meaningful narratives. The data collected for this study was astonishing in how richly it depicted human consciousness. This richness also meant a great responsibility on my part to translate the stories I was entrusted with into readable, credible, reliable research. I wished to do the data and the interviewees justice and I only hope I did.  My Werdwet journey is best described as a roller-coaster, it had wonderful highs but it also had its lows. There were days I felt so overwhelmed by the deadlines and tight schedules, days I was drained because I had reviewed one too many articles or worse, days where I couldn’t write a single paragraph but there were also wonderful days such as when the day all data had finally been coded and analyzed, or the day I finished the first draft after what seemed to be endless weeks of writing or perhaps the most memorable when the manuscript was finally approved for publication after rounds and rounds of reviews. The highs, the lows, and the days in between are what produced this study. In conclusion, this fellowship program has challenged, motivated, and shaped me as both a person and a professional. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I am lucky enough to have been given by CARD. I only hope the reader enjoys the study nearly as much I enjoyed the journey of producing it.

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You can download the English version of her research report by clicking here or read it below.

Please download the Amharic or Afaan Oromo translations by clicking the respective links.

The-Role-of-Religious-Periodic-Gatherings-for-the-Psychosocial-and-Economic-Empowerment-of-Women

Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD)

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