A Remarkable Woman

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The Woman This Month team continues to expand with the appointment of Eskedar Girmay, known to her friends as Esky, as Associate Editor and Brand Ambassador. In this article, we embark on a brief journey of her career, a remarkable life story encompassing roles as diverse as Honorary Consul, film producer, actress, author and philanthropist. With roots in Ethiopia and a thriving presence in Bahrain, Ms. Girmay’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of compassion and perseverance.

Ms. Girmay exudes a profound pride in her heritage, a driving force behind her relentless pursuit of excellence. Reflecting on her roots, she acknowledges Bahrain’s pivotal role in nurturing her aspirations, citing its dynamic environment, diverse opportunities and supportive community as catalysts for her endeavours.

“If Bahrain does not motivate us, I don’t think we would all be here,” she says. “The environment, the people the opportunities … we have a platform to pursue our goals and dreams while there is always something new. We are very lucky.”

“Bahrain is where I met my husband, where I gave birth to my children, and the lifestyle is how they were raised. My kids are looking forward to come back to Bahrain soon, it’s where they feel at home, even more so than France which is where my husband is from,” she adds.

Her appointment as Brand Ambassador is not actually Ms. Girmay’s first experience with Woman This Month. Her association with the magazine dates back to her being featured on the cover in 2004, following her triumph in a July Rose Beauty Contest. Notably, she shares the distinction of being featured twice on the cover, a testament to her enduring impact.

However, it was her diplomatic career where she first made great strides on the international scene. It began when she served as the Honorary Consul of Ethiopia, a role she embraced with dedication and fervour as she worked on improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

Alongside her diplomatic responsibilities, she ventured into the world of cinema, collaborating with prestigious organisations like the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) on impactful projects.

A decade ago, her debut in Ethiopian cinema, Tikur Engda (Unexpected Guest) premiered to packed theatres in Bahrain Seef Cinema, striking a chord with fans with its powerful themes and tackling the difficult issue of adoption and what might go wrong when an adopted child seeks out their birth parents.

Alongside this, she has published three books, each bearing testament to her diverse experiences and reflections. Fuelled by her innate penchant for storytelling, these works offer poignant insights into her life’s tapestry, with themes ranging from memoirs to explorations of cross-cultural marriages and fictional narratives.

She explains: “The short stories I wrote pre-Covid, but the pandemic really emphasised how much I wrote in my diary. The extra time at home allowed me to go through it and solidify it into a further narrative.

“During this process, I started developing new stories and I started to write more and more, which turned into three books. So the first one is similar to a memoir and in fact, one of the stories is dedicated to Bahrain, saying thank you to the Kingdom and its people for making us feel home. I actually wrote it in my language, but that part is written in both languages, English and Amharic, and the book is available on Amazon.

“The second book is called The White Man’s Wife. It’s experimental; I took mine and seven other people’s mixed marriages and I talked about the perceptions from both cultures and how we are taken from two different angles. I have the perspective of an Ethiopian man who’s married to a French woman, then vice versa which is me married to a French man. The third one is a collection of pure fiction.”

Beyond her professional pursuits, Ms. Girmay’s philanthropic endeavours have left an indelible mark. For over half her life, she has dedicated herself to charitable causes, extending support to the less fortunate in various capacities and promoting her country Ethiopia. Her altruistic efforts encompass a spectrum of initiatives, from aiding individuals battling illnesses to fostering bilateral relationships for mutual cultural enrichment.

“My house has always open to those who are less fortunate,” Ms. Girmay explains. “My family and I have been involved in taking care of people for more than half my life, whether in translating, hospital visits, supporting and finding funds for those who are going through cancer or other kind of illness.”

Throughout her journey, Ms. Girmay confronted myriad challenges, including instances of unwarranted ethnic profiling and judgment. Yet, armed with resilience and unwavering familial support, she navigated these obstacles with grace, recognising the distinction between government actions and her identity as a proud Ethiopian.

Ms. Girmay’s ability to strike a balance between her professional commitments and personal life is a testament to her resilience and adaptability. While her earlier years were marked by dedication to philanthropy, she subsequently prioritised her role as a mother, cherishing moments with her children amidst her multifaceted responsibilities.

“I had to let go of our helper and literally dedicate myself to my children the last few years to compensate for the time I relied on her,” she explains. “Although I tried to balance it all, it felt as if I was not giving enough time to them. At times, I was more invested in my charity work because I believed there were people who needed me more than my own children. But there were genuinely times where my children were waiting for me to come home and they fell asleep waiting for me. I had that guilty feeling and then realised one day that my kids were suddenly about to go to university and that I had a small time left to be a dedicated full-time mother and had to find more balance.”

In commemorating International Women’s Day, Ms. Girmay emphasises the importance of inclusivity and resilience, advocating for collaborative endeavours and embracing imperfections as stepping stones to success.

“I think we need to remember that we coexist with men. So when we celebrate women, let’s not exclude men. This is one of my main points that I want to highlight! Anything is achievable but you must give yourself a chance to make mistakes. I think that the important thing to note is nobody is perfect without going through some obstacles, so maybe the successful ones are not telling us enough about the bumpy road they went on.

Ms. Girmay’s encounters with dignitaries, including her memorable interaction with His Majesty King Charles III during a visit to Bahrain, underscore her global impact and diplomatic acumen. At the time, she was representing MWPS (Migrant Workers Protection Society) and the King took a keen interest in her background, even at one point expressing his interest in visiting her home town, Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, to which she extended an invitation. “Although he is yet to take me up on it, I hope he reads this article and remembers!” she adds.

Looking ahead, Ms. Girmay’s aspirations revolve around maintaining her diverse portfolio, amplifying voices through her association with Woman This Month and fostering international connections.

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