As everywhere in Africa, the illiteracy rate in Ethiopia is much higher for women (75%) than for men (47%). Gebeyanesh Nadew, chairwoman of the Women’s Association in Rema, can also neither read nor write. At the age of seven she was already promised to a man who was 19 years older than her and she gave birth to her first child when she was 15. Two more children followed. Gebeyanesh has lived in Rema for more than 20 years. She used to earn her living by brewing her own beer, but today she sells energy-efficient ovens which are used to make the Ethiopian national dish, injera. It is hard work making those ovens, but Gebeyanesh neverthe-less manages to sell around 15 of them every month. In this way she can supplement the modest wage of her husband, Cherenet, who is employed by the village administration.
Gebeyanesh and her family are very happy that their village now profits from solar energy. Since the local school was provided with solar light and evening classes have become possible, Gebeyanesh would like to learn to read and write too. She is ashamed of herself when she has to sign the monthly payment for the solar light with her thumbprint. In future she wants to sign with her own name.
For this reason she went looking for other women who felt as she did. That was not difficult because it is above all the women in Rema who actively grasp at the opportunities for improvement. In the meantime, however, many men also take advantage of the evening school to learn reading and writing. The Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation supports this initiative: Within the framework of its own aid programme, the Founda-tion will carry half of the costs for the teacher for two years. (hs)
Source: "Ethiopia solar – The initiation of a solar trade in Ethiopia, 2005-2011"
2012 Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar energy Foundation, Merzhausen / Zürich / Addis Ababa