Perfecting Women’s Struggle through Studies: Addressing the Absence of Gender Studies in Eritrean Higher Education

Eritrean women’s contribution in the struggle for national independence is an established fact; they represented a third of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and 13% of its fighting forces. Women’s participation in the national struggle has a two- sided benefit; it augmented EPLF’s human capacity on one hand; on the other hand it demonstrated women’s movement from the domestic sphere to the public sphere. Despite their acclaimed role in the national struggle, women’s struggle against all forms of oppression hitherto demands more efforts to attain its desired goal. Much has been done during and after the struggle period to improve the position of women in Eritrea. However, there still remain some silences on the question of liberation of women. One major silence, which is the main concern of this paper, is the absence of gender studies in Tertiary Education in Eritrea.

This paper assesses the nature of liberation of women in Eritrea by situating the significance of gender studies at the center of the struggle of Eritrean women against all forms of oppression. What are the assumptions behind the absence of gender studies from the institutions of higher education in Eritrea? How can the positive stand of the Government of the State of Eritrea regarding women’s rights and equality be reconciled with the exclusion of gender studies from higher education in the country? In an effort to briefly address these questions, the paper looks at the traditional position of women in Eritrea and the history of women’s struggle in relation to the obtainability of gender studies.

The theme of the paper revolves around the importance of a locally based scholarly platform for researching and theorizing women’s concerns. The term ‘gender studies’ is used to indicate a scholarly platform, in an institution of higher education, which is dedicated to the cause of women’s liberation.

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