10 November 2006

Ethiopia: Government Supportive of Improving Women's Status

Addis Ababa — The government is increasingly supportive of improving women's social and economic status in Ethiopia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Ethiopia said.

USAID Country Team Leader for Health, Population and Nutrition, Judith Robb McCord said reforms are taking shape and more and more groups are stepping forward to join the wave of activism for this important work.

The team leader was speaking here yesterday at a 'Gender Talk Forum' organized by the Network of Ethiopian Women's Associations (NEWA).

Currently, USAID/Ethiopia has been supporting an integrated agenda for improved reproductive health, child health and primary education.

Last year, USAID invested nearly 19 million USD in women's reproductive health and 10.5 million USD in education in Ethiopia with a focus on increased use of high impact health services, products and practices and the enhanced use and provision of quality primary education services.

She said USAID and other donors work closely with government partners and with a wide range of international and local organizations.

Positive change is being seen at the household and community levels through a network of community health workers, the mobilization of parents, teachers, religious leaders and other community members and leaders, she said. "More women are accessing family planning services and demand is growing."

Support for female circumcision has declined to 31 per cent from 60 per cent in the years 2000 to 2005 and less than 40 per cent of women have a daughter who has been circumcised.

In terms of primary education, gross enrolment rates for grades 1-8 in USAID programme areas is 77.7 per cent against a target of 71 per cent, she said, adding, the next step is to strengthen secondary school attendance for girls.

Ramped up support for girls education, active mobilization at all levels supporting the end of domestic violence, abduction, rape and other forms of sexual abuse, increased access to health and access to paid employment opportunities, among others, contribute for change and improvement of women's status in Ethiopia, she said.

NEWA Directress, Saba G/Medhin on her part said the forum was organized with a view to discussing a range of gender issues and share views and experiences among participants.

The forum has been serving as a medium of communication for informal discussion among women organizations, women activists and international organizations.

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