Tell us who Meaza is?
My name is Meaza Hadera. A journalist and a writer from Ethiopia. I dedicate my profession to teach and empower African women. I am a mother of one beautiful princess.
Which area of journalism are you majored in and why?
I was a broadcast- newsroom reporter but lately I am all over the place, which is freelancing.
What drove you to work with women?
Well, as a female creative living in Ethiopia, I came across so many violence and harassment. The fact that our women do not have any idea about their power and rights made me use my creative skill to teach them.
Which ways do you use to promote women empowerment at African Creative Minds?
We are a group of African experts from the creative art industry. We work to teach, empower and promote African women using creative art.
What we do
We use comic characters, comic books, film, literature, visual art, dance, music, theater and other creative arts to do what we do. We also promote and showcase start up creative enterprises and new artist works. This helps them to promote their enterprise or work. We also give them guidance and training on how start their own business.
What we have done so far
Currently, we are working with African animators, sketch artists, visual artists, website developers, writers, film and theater directors and musicians.
What is the size of your team because this is so much work for one person?
Currently, we have 6 Managerial Board Members, 5 Advisory Board members representing East Africa and 7 African Creative Minds team members including me.
How is it to set up a creative enterprise in Ethiopia?
To be frank it is hard to set up here in Ethiopia. For the creative industry is considered as a luxury. The fact that my country doesn’t have the policy on social enterprise makes it even harder.
What are some of the challenges you face?
- Lack of policies to support the creative industry
- Gender bias
- Lack of platforms to introduce once self or work
- Misconceptions towards the industry: people consider it a luxury.
- Financial problem
- Creative minds intend to work alone: lack of collaboration between creatives
Are there plans to merge or work with the government in order to promote gender equality and women empowerment considering that it is a mammoth of an issue?
We have but as I said earlier, in order to open an organization you can only be a PLC or NGO. No social enterprise in between. That makes it hard. If an NGO, we can’t sell our services or products. We have to source for funds to survive
Amidst all these challenges I believe that there is a success story. What is yours at African Creative Minds?
Well as long as you don’t stop your journey, there is always success. My achievement journey starts with my short film based on gender based violence. The US embassy uses this film to teach about gender based violence. It was also showcased in USA, Italy and France. I have also published several articles on Writers Space Africa
I am one of the Advisory Board members representing Ethiopia for African Writers Development Trust. With mobility fund from Prince Clause and British Council, I represented my country during the African Writers Conference, Kenya. I was also part of the Creative Enterprise Program in Uganda.
Lately, I have published my first book, A Feminist Analysis of “A Good Man in Africa” and “The Bride Price”, with the help of Lambert Publishing (German) and my short story was posted on worldpress.com today.
I believe that as time goes by something will come in place to work for social enterprises. Are there any steps being done by others?
Yes. The British Council and Social Enterprise Ethiopia are working together to push the government. We even host social enterprise world forum here in Ethiopia. The first time in developing countries.
What inspires you to from time to time?
African Women! I get inspired every time I read a story about African women. Even though society or history forgets deliberately to tell us about these women, we have iconic women worthy of mentioning their story.
One of our projects is called African superwomen. African women are mostly miss-represented in most of African creative works. This Project will show how African women change history. These series of comic books will talk about African/Ethiopian women worthy of mentioning their stories. They will change the narrative which Africa used to tell. Thus, the young generation will not forget their names afterwards. A young female will have African role models. History will call up their names once again.
Any plans to advance this? Considering that comic books may have limited audiences?
Comics is just one part of the creative industry. We will have animations and other creativities.
What is your take on the state of the African woman?
Well, as African saying goes “As long as the lion doesn’t hold the pen, the lion is always the weak one” but had the lion have the pen he would write a different story. And today I hold the pen to tell my side of the story and promote my women. Africa will be known for its superwomen. The young generation will have heroines and models of their own from Africa.
What role can the male gender play in advancing women empowerment?
Be part of the narrative. We are trying to change the narrative which Africa used to tell. The male gender plays a big role in changing the narrative with us. After all a better world is important for all.
How do you make males part of changing the narrative?
First by asking if they are willing to show their creativities while promoting/empowering women. They are willing. We have more male volunteers than females in our organization. They just need invitation.
We call for creatives from different fields to help us in empowering and promoting women and they all are willing.
As a creative, I believe you have a routine that informs you. Please let us into yours. (What you listen, watch and read.)
I love to read or watch spy or action genre. It helps me to see things from different angles. But I love any kind of music as long as there are musical instruments.
What next for ACM in the coming years?
To take a big role in promoting African Women and to have more members from all over Africa
What is your parting shot?
You can’t work alone in the creative industry. Ask for help when you need it. If you don’t ask, the answer always remains “NO”, but if you do ask, the answer is either “YES” or “NO”.