Sociology and Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology | Benjamin Franklin College

Nardos Kebede
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Senior Essay Title: "Emergence of the Me Too Movement in Ethiopia: The Role of Grassroots Feminist Movements, the Diaspora Community, and Social Media Activism in Changing Attitudes and Policies around Women’s Rights"

Advisor: Jonathan Wyrtzen

Abstract: Initiated in the U.S., the Me Too Movement spread to Ethiopia through diaspora activism primarily through the social media platform @metooethiopia. While drawing inspiration from the global movement, Me Too Ethiopia has been transformed as it is interpreted and articulated by the Ethiopian diaspora community and the local Ethiopian population. Facets of Ethiopian law and society including conservative attitudes towards women’s rights, general prejudice against Western ideals, and weak implementation of existing laws on gender complicate the diffusion of the movement. Within the nuanced frameworks of classical diffusion theory and World Culture Theory, this paper explores the diffusion of Me Too Ethiopia, how it gets transformed by the agents of diffusion, and how it interacts with local feminist movements. While Me Too Ethiopia currently exists in the online space, I argue that moving forward, it needs to expand its base of ‘intellectual entrepreneurs’ to incorporate activists based in Ethiopia. With the goal of tackling gender based violence, Me Too Ethiopia needs to use its resources to reinvigorate local feminist organizations rather than recreate a local grassroots movement. Changing attitudes and practices around women’s rights will require the concerted effort of the government, local feminist movements, and the diaspora.