Justification for Oromo Women and Girls for Social Activism
By Hiree Dugassa
September 17, 2017
Nagaan Hundaa kassinif Ha’Ta’u.
Thank you for coming to attend the Global Gumii Oromia (GGO) meeting organized here in Toronto. I have been asked to talk about the importance of Oromo women and young girls in the struggle for social justice. I am too young to be an expert in this area, however, I am passionate about it. I was fortunate enough to be born and raised here in Canada. I learned the challenges that the Oromo people face from hearing the prayers of my mother, who had lost her beloved brother Dereje Dame to the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) led Ethiopian government. Second, I learn it from what my father has written. I have been reading his articles since I first started to read. He was always typing while I sat on his lap.
For example, I remember the word “rinderpest” the cattle disease that massively killed the Oromo cattle and caused a famine, since I was five years old. In his works he was trying to identify the cause and magnitude of the problem. He frequently referred to his Grandmother Bayisse Biqilee’s oral stories. For my father his grandmother and his mother Nagasse Dabala were the two most important people who influenced him. They are his heroines. This means Oromo women are information keepers and teachers. One of the major reasons why Oromo women need to actively participate in promoting social justice is they are information keepers and teachers.
Under the Ethiopian rule until 1975 my grandmother and grandfather were forced to give a quarter of their harvest to the Abyssinian landlords. Due to the Abyssinian colonial policy they became serfs on their own land. Giving up a quarter of their harvest conditioned them to live in a sluggish life. For this reason my grandparents could not afford to send my father’s older sisters to school. This proves to show injustice committed against the Oromo people in general affected more Oromo women and girls. Hence, the second justification for the Oromo women in promoting social justice is, their active involvement helps to ease their burdens.
Records show when famine and poverty occur it is the women and children who suffer the most. As I speak right now, cholera is killing old and young; men and women. The Ethiopian government armed militia – Liyu Hail (a special force) are attacking the Oromo people. Evicting thousands of people from their homes. In most cases, it is the women and young girls who are suffering. This proves that women need to actively participate to bring peace and social justice.
Oromo women are the holders of the Siiqee institution – the institution set to promote gender equality and peace. The Oromo women developed Siiqee institution and promoted gender equity when in many parts of the world gender biased was theorized and legalized. As a Canadian-Oromo I am proud to my ancestors who were so visionary. Oromo women and girls need to reclaim and rebuild our institution and make sure that our voices are heard locally and globally. Siiqee as an institution and the idea it stood for (fairness and equity) is a worthwhile that we need to cherish.
The third important reason why the Oromo women and girls need to be active participants in promotion of social justice is because by participation they develop problem solving skills. This helps Oromo women to develop their capacity. Not only that, it helps to build the capacity of Oromo people.
The fourth reason is that participation of Oromo women for justice in Oromia is that it guarantees fairness and inclusiveness. Guaranteeing fairness and inclusion can be instrumental for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.
The fifth reasoning is for the Oromo people nagaa (peace) is intertwined with fayya (health). For them the idea of peace is not just about the absence of war and it includes social justice. Hence, promotion of social justice is promotion of peace and in its turn it is promoting health.
We need to say “Nothing about us, without us”. Oromo women need to say “nothing about the Oromo people without the Oromo women”. Oromo women’s struggle for justice and peace is to freely define our community problems with Oromo males in equal footing and find a solution collectively. We need to get organized, develop our own policies and procedures and make sure our sisters and brothers in Oromia are free from the Ethiopian government’s inhuman treatment. We need to work to save the lives of children and women that are dying young.
To the Canadian-Oromo girls and women, I have three simple messages. First in Canada we have plenty of opportunities that our parents never had. Canada offers us the opportunities we need to effectively use our talents to become successful citizens as (thinkers, actors, solvers and builders). Second, biologically and culturally we are bonded to Canada and Oromia. We have an obligation to make sure that the Canadian-Oromo relations are strong and both stand for social justice and peace. Third, as the African proverb goes “If you run fast go alone and if you want to run further go with a team”. To be successful we need to integrate our self to both cultures and build on the strength of each culture.
Let us get organized and build the future of our beloved home together.
Nagaa fi Bilisumaan Oromiaf Ha’Ta’uu
Liberty and peace to the Oromo People