Global Challenges

Documentary film launch

Three days of freedom

Women's Ashenda celebration in Mekelle Tigray, North-Ethiopia


Ashenda film still

Every year in August girls and women in Tigray, North-Ethiopia, celebrate their freedom for three days during Ashenda. This documentary tells the story of an age-old women’s culture which was dying but that has been revived. We hear and see the value it has for the participants who come from all over Tigray to celebrate in the regional capital of Mekelle. The celebration is presented from both a cultural and religious perspective in light of newer research on Ashenda.

The documentary also gives voice to different stakeholders like the Women’s Association of Tigray who revived Ashenda in order to forward women’s issues, Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau who utilises it as a tourist attraction in the pursuit of economic growth - and especially so if it becomes registered in UNESCO - and a music expert who envisions it being developed into an opera.

This documentary, which is a cooperation between the Ethiopian filmmaker Tewodros Hailemikael and the Norwegian photographic artist/social anthropologist/filmmaker Thera Mjaaland, was shot during the Ashenda celebration in Mekelle, August 2017.


Organised by: Kvinnefronten and Litteraturhuset i Bergen

Part of Kvinnefestivalen i Bergen 5 – 16 March 2018