The women`s movement in Tigray Tigray (1976- present): Emergence, Development and Relationships with TPLF
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This study, which follows the historical trajectory of emergence and development of the women's movement in Tigray, North-Ethiopia, was conducted to investigate its interaction with Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) to explore how this interaction has played out impacting strategies and/or forms of mobilization as well as its achievements and challenges faced. Key issues are the mobilisation for practical and strategic gender interests of this women's movement in Tigray and different levels of organisational autonomy. Data was collected using interview, observation, informal discussion and document analysis. The analysis and interpretation of the data was done based on the concepts of women's gender interest, the notion of independent, associative or directive aspects of women's mobilisation, double militancy as well as the concept of the political opportunity structure. The findings of the study show that the causes of mobilization of the women's movement that emerged within TPLF in 1976 have been based on both practical and strategic gender interests. In this regard, on one hand, women have mobilized calling for provision of basic necessities, educational facilities and health services which are practical gender interests; on the other hand, they have mobilized demanding emancipation of women, equal political representation, equal right to property ownership, divorce right and reproductive rights, which are strategic gender interests. In connection to this, it was found that whereas, during the struggle in the time period from 1976 to 1991, emancipation of women was pursued to the level TPLF's Marxist Leninist ideology allowed; after the struggle, from 1991 onwards, the mobilization for equality has been framed in terms of rights and development issues. In its interaction with TPLF, the data showed that the women's movement was shifting positions and changing status enjoying differing degrees of autonomy but without attaining full independence during the time frame under study. Regardless of the shifting of positions and differing degrees of autonomy, however, this study concludes that there has been meaningful cooperation between TPLF and the women's movement based on mutual respect and understanding, which has helped the women's movement to push for, and achieve more gender-friendly changes.