On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, a big celebration in this part of the world, we remember the great women who traced the road we are able to tread. I would like to honor two ladies who are not part of the big History but part of my story: my grand-mothers Suzanne and Kebedetch on whose shoulders I stand.
Suzanne was one of three women to graduate from law school. She wanted to be a judge but at the time women in France were not accepted in the profession. She finally married and had to give up her career to follow my grand-father as his job in the railways demanded him to move every couple of years.. When she was in her early forties, my grand-father left her for another woman. She literally broke down but in the end she showed great resilience and strength. I remember her constant admonition to study. “A woman needs to have a profession, you never know what will happen to you!” I miss her sense of humour and wish I had her energy.
Kebedetch never learned how to read and write as in her childhood in Ethiopia she was “only a girl”. She nevertheless encouraged all her children to study and would listen with infinite patience as I would tell her what I had learned in school showing her how I could read and write. She had divorced my grand-father long before I was born and showed great cleverness in mending the rift between my father and her ex-husband. It seems that my resemblance to my grand-father played a role! I miss her unbounded love and wish to have her profound faith. I had a dream of her once after her passing. She smiled to me and gave me to drink….
Unlike both my grand-mothers, I have been able to decide to study and what I wanted to study – which Baha’is in Iran still cannot do, I have been able to decide when and who I will marry – which many women in Ethiopia still cannot do. If they were the “captain of their souls“, I owe to them to be the “master of my fate“.