20 October 2017

Ethiopia: 'Attitudinal Change' - to Increase Women's Societal Role


Women are not only half the society. Many have already argued as they are the entire society. It is this part of the society who gives birth and raise the rest half of the society.

When we see the role of Ethiopian women, it is extremely tremendous. Ethiopian women have inherited this nation raising their kids despite all the harsh challenges they faced. 'Collecting firewood', fetching water trekking at distance places, cooking food for members of a family, managing the entire household chorus and above all raising child were just few of their responsibilities.

But they were not treated equally with their male counterparts. They have been facing several inequalities and injustices.

However, the Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia (FDRE) Constitution has granted them an equal status with their male counterparts in all aspects of life.

Nowadays, Ethiopian women start to engage in business, government and private employment, leadership and other responsibilities.

Currently, it is easy to come across female ministers, members of parliament, directors, CEOs and managers. Thanks to their indispensable bravery during the seventeen years of their armed struggle.

Though there is huge improvement in empowering women in every sector, there are still plenty of works remain to be done. Still, Ethiopian women are in need of education and economic emancipation.

Having understood this situation, the government has been implementing policies which could benefit and empower women. As part of the efforts, it has been offering affirmative action noticing their burden and family responsibilities.

One of the sectors where women could involve in leadership is education. According to studies the number of women principals and presidents in primary, high school and university levels is limited. To boost this number, Ministry of Education has planned to increase the share of women leadership in education by 25 percent this fiscal year. This would be realized through providing short and long-term capacity building trainings schemes.

Ministry of Education, Gender Directorate Director, Elsabet Gesesse indicates that encouraging of women to pursue their education, by applying various affirmative measures, has been found as viable option to materialize the mission.

"Female students need societal support to help them complete their education. There is affirmative action being offered for female students especially for those who live in the rural area and in emerging states. The initiative is bearing fruitful results so far."

Out of 136,000 students who have successfully passed National University Entrance Examination last academic year, over 58,000 of them are female students. Of which 7,879 have benefited from the pre-affirmative measures. Female leadership rate at primary school has reached 37 percent from almost none two decades ago.

"The academic leadership empowerment of women has shown an incredible improvement in pre-primary and primary schools. There is great number of women principals in those aforementioned levels of education,"

Hanna Chernet who attempted to explore some of the factors responsible for female underrepresentation in educational leadership in her graduate thesis hailed the efforts of the government in empowering women education leadership, despite the challenges. She underlined that the reasons which deter women both from stepping up the ladder of leadership and being competitive as leaders have deep roots in the community and organizations.

"Though Ethiopian women have started to benefit from their constitutional rights, there are problems in using those rights fully. The main reason for this is the negative perception in the society. The society has stereotyped women as they are incapable of what their male counterparts can do. This attitude should be modified."

Other challenges relating with empowering women in educational leadership are lack of transparency and bias. There are also irregularities in the selection and appointment process of women in the leadership. Such and other relating problems are excess recipes to make women less confident and more reluctant in assuming leadership position at schools, colleges and universities, Hanna argues.

To sum up, realizing all these challenges, governmental and non-governmental organizations and the society at large should exert their maximum efforts in supporting women to hold academic posts. Besides, the policies and strategies designed to empower women should be implemented fully.


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