Muluken Kassahun, Werdwet Fellow 2020

Muluken Kassahun: “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 for vulnerable and minority groups in Ethiopia. The research fellowship program will also give women and youth opportunities to pursue their passion of researching and promoting their ideas to bring about a just society. One of the first research fellows, Muluken Kassahun, launched his research report on the 12th of April 2021 in the Sapphire hotel where different stakeholders attended.

Below, Muluken shares with us his experience as a Werdwet Fellow.

As one of the first Werdwet Fellow, I’m really honored to share my experiences that took several months. As soon as I came across the open call for a research proposal, I found the idea appealing. In my view, the thematic area promotes the idea of ‘Ethiopian solutions for Ethiopian problems’ or ‘our own solution for our own quandary’.

In this regard, I prepared and defended my proposal on the title of ‘The Role of Ateete and Siinqee Institutions to Ensure the Rights of Women among Oromo Communities’. Later on, in conversation with my advisor of the research, the title was modified to ‘Gadaa System and Women’s Rights: The Role of Oromo Women Customary Institutions in Ensuring the Protection of the Rights of Women with the intention of covering multiple customary institutions that ensure women’s participation in socio-economic and political activities of the society. At the screening phase, I had defended my proposal via Zoom from Mettu, 600km away from the capital Addis Ababa, where CARD’s office is located.

Werdwet Fellowship was both an interesting and challenging experience of my life. It is interesting, because:

  1. The humble treatment, respect, support, and encouragement by the team of CARD was inspiring.
  2. The fieldwork for data collection was a chance for me to visit and observe the vast diversity within the unity of different Oromoo communities.
  3. The data collection of the research and the focused group discussions gave an opportunity for research participants to learn from one another in sharing information with me and my data collectors.

I had also faced a number of challenges including:

  1. The restrictions imposed to control COVID-19 Pandemic, such as social distancing and staying at home made the data gathering a bit difficult than normal days.
  2. The security situation following the assassination of Artist Hacaalu Hundessa made the data collection process, which was conducted during the months of August and September 2020, further difficult.

However, with the support of CARD and with the adaptation of the situations, I was able to successfully overcome all the challenges to eventually enjoy the fruit of my labor.

CARD publishes and disseminates the research output in three languages – English, Amharic, and Afaan Oromoo – on its website to promote language accessibility of the research as well as distributing the English hard copies to academic institutions, think tanks, concerned government offices, and civil societies.

Hopefully, the finding of the research serves as input for stakeholders to take initiative on ways of empowering customary women institutions to vernacularize and realize international human rights in the local context and intervening where it needs to.

I would like to recommend the incoming Werdwet Fellows manage their time properly to produce quality research. It is recommendable to complete the first draft of the research two months earlier than on the due date of the research development period to get adequate time for editing, translation, and processing of publications.

Last, but not least, I hope that the Werdwet Fellowship will become one of the renowned research fellowships in Africa and in the World!

Please read the research report below or click here to download.


Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD)

Making Democracy the Only Rule of Game!

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