The research project EDIT aims at strengthening societal capacity to enhance gender equality and thereby democracy and human rights. It does so by examining and supporting scholarship and teaching on gender in selected universities in Ethiopia and South Africa to develop academic research and teaching towards a more societally relevant and contextually attuned practice. Epistemic negotiations in/by feminist epistemic communities can teach lessons on how transformation processes towards equality can be enabled and strengthened, what their dimensions are and what obstacles must be attended to. Most importantly, universities can be key drivers of societal change but this promise is here under investigation, rather than assumed. 

The overall EDIT project not only contributes to an increased academic knowledge production on local circumstances and transformatory practices on gender relations, but a better contextualization of knowledge production, including a documentation of the activism-art-academia axis, and an exploration into what an increased societal relevance of academic work might mean. Furthermore, the project suggests that while there is ample research on resistance it is seldom examined as an avenue to understand local circumstances and thus seen as a positive force in transformation. 

The partners, University of Helsinki, Finland, Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Ethiopia and the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa are selected based on their record of excellence in feminist scholarship and societal dialogue, and thereby work as case studies for a phenomenon-driven and problem based research on key factors behind poverty, inequality and violence: unequal gender relations and societal obstacles hampering change. 

The project was granted €600.000 funding by the Academy of Finland’s Programme for Development Research for the period 1.1.2019-31.12.2022.