A few weeks ago, I facilitated a discussion for the members of a forum of women leaders in the public sector. Throughout the day, I helped these women of power explore the gender dimensions of their public roles as well as the ways in which they can foster strategic sisterhood as a means to strengthen the impact of their roles. As our conversation deepened, a few phrases came up repeatedly: strength, sacrifice, and service. I joked with the women that representation by such superwomen should transform Ethiopia in the very near future, but I worried at the narrative that expects so much from women leaders while almost expecting them to fail. One of the women called this the “‘yihew, eyiwat’ or ‘watch her fail’ syndrome.”

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