Women on a Mission!

African Women in Cinema blog features “women on a mission”


I just got back from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, where I spent Thanksgiving 2016. In a short week: I met with some women on a mission!!!!

New partnerships:

Met and discussed partnerships with young Ethiopian women lawyer(s) from the Yellow Movement, established in 2011 after the Aberash case (that involved an ex-husband who blinded his ex-wife over claims of ‘jealousy’) It was a very high profile case due to local lobbying. The movement was also the first to blog and post about the case of Hanna, a young girl who was gang raped and left to die, a few years back.  The Yellow Movement established its niche as a nucleus serving to mobilize, influence, lobby and advocate with and for women of Ethiopia, including combating Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Women on a Mission!

Follow-on from last year – women in the media screenwriting workshop:

Last year (2015) after I completed my Fulbright, as part of their campaign to raise awareness on gender based violence (GBV) issues, the US embassy asked me to develop and deliver a week long screenwriting workshop, specifically aimed for Ethiopian women journalists and filmmakers. embassy screenwriting workshop5

I developed and delivered “Telling Herstory” a screenwriting workshop aimed at using screenwriting to address GBV issues.  embassy screenwriting workshop


I walked participants through the various stages of the screenwriting process. At the end, all participants had written a 5-page (5-minute) script.



The top three were selected by a panel of judges. The US Embassy committed funds to the 3 finalists so that they turn them into short films. Women on a Mission!embassy screenwriting workshop4

I arranged so that the 3 finalists use the Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers (film students I trained through the Fulbright program) to work on the short films. Both groups that were trained during my tenure worked together on the production of the 3 short films.


audience shot4web
The 3 short films were screened at the 2016 NOVA Students Film Festival  in Alexandria, VA:

5:30 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia |Director: Azeb Worku A young journalist combats society’s stigma and prejudices against women who were victims of rape. Based on true events that happened to 16 year old Hanna Lalango, who was gang raped and subsequently died.

Gender Gift
5:37 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia I Director: Meaza Hadera This story traces the plight of a 12 year old girl who was promised for marriage by her parents to an older man. This film was made to raise awareness against child marriage.

Arogew Genzeb (the Old Dollar Bill)
5:01 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia I Director: Serkadis Megabiyaew Tired of being treated as a second class citizen, a young lady refuses to accept an old Birr (Ethiopian currency – dollar bill) from a cabbie who is trying to off-load it on to her.


The US Embassy in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, launched its 2016 campaign to raise awareness on GBV, with the screening of these 3 films on Wednesday, November 23 2016 at the American Center. I was honored to be present as the women filmmakers screened their films and conducted a Q & A with the audience afterwards. Women on a Mission!

New beginnings:

I am happy to report that I met with the participants from the women in media/film screenwriting workshop and discussed setting up a formal association (Ethiopian Women Filmmakers Association). Women on a serious Mission! 

(photo credit: Roman Gebre)img_1671 img_1670 img_1669 img_1668 img_1667

We had a script reading sessions where we read and discussed several scripts they are working on, slated for development this year. More information to come in the following weeks. Women on a Mission!

New Connections:

I connected the women lawyers from the Yellow Movement with the “about to be formed” Ethiopian Women Filmmakers Association. Can you imagine the possibilities? Women on a Mission!

More connections…UN Women representatives contacted me about wanting to work with local talent, women filmmakers to showcase some of their works on gender issues, as part of an initiative using film for outreach. Well, it so happen that I was meeting with the dynamic women filmmakers the same day! Couldn’t have planned it better myself. New connections, new partnerships were formed. Stay tuned for update on this front!

More follow -on activities with the Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers:

Met with some of my former Fulbright students, the Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers, to re-group, update and discuss possible collaborations with my students at NOVA.  They are excited to do it again. As Final Exam, the film they collaborated on went on to be screened at this year’s Ethiopian International Film Festival in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.

More update on this to come…

Highlights featured on NOVA’s Intercom