Ethiopian girls run for their lives

For girls in the African country, running provides a means to escape poverty, and control their own destinies.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

The Washington Post has a truly awesome story today about Ethiopian girls who are running - literally - to improve their lives. For years Ethiopia has been producing some of the most accomplished runners, though women have only begun to compete - and win - at the same level as men. But now, girls are catching the craze, realizing that running is not only fun and a practical skill (fast girls can outrun boys and men who might harass or attack them) but it might also offer a path toward controlling one’s destiny.

The article is mostly a profile of one girl in Addis Ababa, 13- year old Tesdale Mesele, who trains for hours everyday  her “warmup” speed is an 8-minute mile! — while attending school and helping with family chores. She lives with her older sister in the city, and hopes to one day attract a running club and earn a small sponsorship. In the meantime, running will help her avoid early marriage and stay in school. As reporter Emily Wax writes, “In Ethiopia, getting an education is a true marathon: Girls’ enrollment is among the lowest in the world, and women and girls are more likely to die in childbirth than reach sixth grade, according to UNICEF.”

And parents see the benefits, too. Female runners who earn money are a benefit to their families, so even traditional parents can be supportive of their daughters, who might be better equipped to take care of them and other children as professional athletes. One professional runner, Meseret Defar, earned so much money that she is now putting her two brothers through school. Running also allowed her to delay having children and marry a man of her choosing.

To all the girl runners in Ethiopia, Broadsheet says: Just do it!

Hillary Frey is the Books editor at Salon.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>