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Gender Issues in Nation-Building Projects: The Case of Eritrea

Institutions & Governance

Eritrean Woman | Source: William Ravelli

Study Context

Although women actively participated in the Eritrean struggle for independence and later on in nation-building projects, the impact of the nation-building projects on their political and economic status remains understudied. The primary goal of the Eritrean post-independence nation-building project has been establishing national unity, security, equity, and development through the cultivation of a single national identity by depoliticizing and weakening sub-national identities through macro policies. The core elements of the project are national service and nationalization of land.

While the effects of these two programs are yet to be studied exhaustively, the gender perspective remains an important knowledge gap. Therefore, this study aims to examine:

  • How have the politics and political economy of the Eritrean nation-building project impacted gender relations in Eritrea for the last three decades?
  • In what ways has the nationalization of land impacted gender relations?
  • How has the mandatory national-service and its mobilization of women affected gender relations?
Study Design

A literature review will be conducted to understand the role of the state’s nation-building, its macro policies, and its effect on women’s socioeconomic and political transformation. Archival research will focus on decrees, proclamations, legal documents, manifestos, journals, memoirs, customary laws, reports, audio and video records, and webpages.

Interviews will also be conducted with elders, National Service conscripts, government officials, politicians, community leaders, journalists, and religious figures. A comparative approach will be used to assess the status of women before and after independence, differences between traditional and modern society, and conscripted and non-conscripted women.

Results and Policy Lessons

Results forthcoming.

  • Freweini Tekle

2023 — 2023

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