here is what my paper is about:
This paper focuses on my encounter with some Ethiopian female students whose common denominators are poverty, discrimination, violence, inequality but also resilience, hope, courage and dignity. This narrative describes how a group of young students believe education has enriched their lives in a country still dominated by patriarchy, with an adolescent birth rate of 58.4 % (births per 1000 women aged 15-19)and a gender development index of 0.842 (UNDP, 2016). I will draw insights from my practical experience as a development professional who works in Ethiopia with the aim of contributing to the establishment of the human capabilities of these young women. They aspire to a dignified life and believe education to be the sole instrument with which they can free themselves from the subordinated position society attributes to them. As a living-theory researcher (Briganti, 2016) who neither separates herself and her practical experience from the social formation she is part of, nor from those aspects of life she is interested in researching, I will explain (my living-educational-theory) my educational influences in my own learning while working with Ethiopian girls and women, in the learning of the people I worked for and in the learning of the social formations that influence my practice and understandings as a development professional. I will show how my work in Ethiopia (2005-to date) is enriched and underpinned by Living Educational Theory methodology that helps me to understand more fully the motivating power of love, faith and action I incorporate within my practice, and how I originated the notion of generativity in a living-theory of sustainable development. As a female development professional and researcher, I also write about the recognition of the significance of gender, professionally, personally and interpersonally. The narrative provides the reader with a journey into my own development, unveiling my living values and living standards of judgment (Laidlaw, 1996) while attempting to be a ‘good’ development professional aspiring towards a ‘good’ change (Chambers, 2005) and dealing with gender inequalities. The core of my writings focuses not only on my influence as a development professional in the learning and development of young Ethiopian women, but more interestingly on the influence those women have had on my practice and how they have shaped my view of development, sustainability, and gender. I end this paper with an appreciation of the process that may lead me eventually to answer the key question for a living-theory researcher, namely: ‘How can I improve my practice’.
I look forward to your comments and suggestions for improvement.