12 May 2018

Ethiopia: Empowering Women for Socio-Economic Development

Women making sweater

Meseret Berhanu, a manager of Habesha Sweater Production Enterprise in Arada Sub-city here in Addis Ababa says she used to assist her mother in the production of sweater while she was a student. After completing her schools, she entered in to full time engagement in the production, and now she leads the enterprise as a manager since many years ago. The enterprise has twenty-five employees on permanent and temporary basis.

Meseret says personal interest is the primary turning point for someone to work hard and become effective. In addition to interest, the experience gained from job as well as the satisfaction of customers would help develop a profession, she added.

Indeed, when interest and experience meet, women can be effective in productivity and grow their economic scale. To make this happen, the government must facilitate opportunities for women to work and support their families. Currently, the government is on the track to provide online market systems and give consultation to producers in fiscal year.

Fortunately, Meseret has one young boy who has graduated in Computer Science, which created good opportunity to hasten their works. Having graduated in this course helps him to adapt the new machine, which they brought from China. She said adding that the machine is unique and not available in other parts of the country. The machine is more significant to save time and produce more sweaters in good quality. But the production is now challenged by lack of training, inadequate material support, and lack of due attention. Though some challenges are now addressed, a lot remains she noted.

The enterprise is tested due to lack of market linkage, and lack of capital, she noted. Overcoming these challenges, the enterprise aims at transferring in to industry, by increasing the number of workers from 25 to 400 as well as producing internationally competitive products, she stated. Of course, women can change the livelihood of their family from low status to high, and this can be interpreted as empowering women is empowering the country.

Bekelech Alemu, a permanent worker in the Enterprise says on her part, a conducive working environment has an indispensible role to enhancing the productivity thereby improving monthly income. She used to making sweater before she joined the current enterprise.

Bekelch believes that the government is working aggressively in women empowerment. However, some challenges are still existed, which are not directly indicating towards the government, rather the enterprise itself, she believes.

Ferehiwot Assefa is also working in producing women's dresses, trousers, T-shirts and sell products in export market in order to earn high foreign currency.

According to Frehiwot, the enterprise has 34 permanent and eight temporary workers while most of them are returnees from refuge. Hence, such type of enterprise is significant to reduce unemployment rate and generate income and benefiting indirectly in the utilization of finance, management system, and customer handling, she added.

As to her, so as to solving the refugees' economic problems, the government needs to facilitate opportunities to work and change lives.

On the other hand, lack of input is another challenge for the enterprise that producing a high quality and quantity of the product, and she call that if the government should be solving this type of problems, then the enterprise become productive more.

According to the document from the Ministry of Women and Children, in the past, Ethiopian women just like throughout the world, suffered social, political, economic and psychological problems because of gender stereotypes and imbalance. To solve these problems the women used to organize themselves in various organizations or groups. By doing so they were able to solve the problems they were facing.

According to the document, power supply and expanding rural technology are some activities that the government accomplished after women empowered themselves economically. Following this, 54.4 percent electric power covered in the past few years throughout the country.

In another example, previously only rich people were able to establish an electric mill house in many rural areas. But currently such kinds of services are being delivered more simply by women association and farmers' associations.

On the other hand, the government has made efforts to enhancing of women productivity, protects their wealth from robbers, affirms land ownership by issuing tilte deeds certificate, equivalent salary with men for similar job, and the overall equal participation with men. For instance, two million women have become owners of land out of 11 million, according to the document.

The Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency aims to ensure economic independence of citizens, equal participation of women and men as well as to ensure food security. Of this, ensuring financial independence of women is one of the main duties of the agency.

Adding to this, the Agency works for women empowerment particularly, to help them realize the good opportunities and to change their livelihood. Of this, providing short term training under market oriented, technology supporting, and saving services are some advantages both in men and women.

On the other hand, women also become beneficiary from loan provision and in market linkage, by 42 and 41 per cent respectively. The agency is now working in cooperation with the Labor and Social Affairs Bureau to empower women economically. Although the participation of women in economic activities show increment from time to time, it has not reached at the expected level, the document stated. Moreover, 37 percent of women have benefitted from the federal revolving fund.

Women's economic independence is growing gradually. The government and women themselves play indispensable role to solve the past challenges to have full potential in bringing change and contribute significant role to the realization of sustainable development of the country. Thus, the government and other stakeholders should work hand in glove to empower women for the realization of the country's sustainable socioeconomic development.


Upgrading youth centres to deliver better service

By providing access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities, encouraging reading habit, investing on healthy living, counseling and training, peer learning and small businesses youth centers play vital role in changing the awareness and building the personality of many youths. Beyond being mere recreational centers; the centers serve as sources of knowledge, education and information to the youth.

Establishment of Youth Centers started two years after the enactment of National Youth Policy in 2003 which includes expansion of youth centers as one of the ten major points. In line with the Policy, in 2005 urban, rural and pastoralist youth packages were formed.

The three packages envisage to build youth centers for every Kebele, local administration and since 2005 more than 2300 youth centers were launched nationwide, Eleni Tadele, Youth Personality Development Director with the Ministry of Youth and Sport said.

During the past ten years especially immediately within five years after the implementation of the packages, building youth centers were expanding and during the end of First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) more than 2300 youth centers were constructed, Eleni told The Ethiopian Herald.

"The efforts in constructing these youth centers is appreciated, but still compared to the number of the youth; the access of these centers is not enough. Especially the accessibility of these centers in rural and pastoralists areas is rare where most centers found in cities." Eleni added.

Not only the accessibility many of the operational centers are not effectively providing service as per the standards set by the National Youth Policy, according to Eleni.

One of the youth centers in Addis Ababa nearing completion phase of its construction. Most of the youth centers have similar design and size

To make the centers functional and effective the Ministry is working with due attention to streamline the service.

A recent assessment on the activities of the centers indicated that they suffered administrative problems, management structure, lack of accountability, buildings lack of attractiveness to the youth. The services provided by the centers are not enough and do not match the very needs of the youth. As frequently observed the centers have ended up regular meeting halls rather than serving as training venues for the youth, Eleni Said.

To solve the shortcomings on youth centers government revises the service and design of the centers to include all youth demanded services and to make the buildings attractive especially to the new ones, the director added.

According to the director the standard provides that the maximum service provided by model youth centers should be eight services, the second one five and minimum three services. but currently the standard is revised so that the model centers, most youth centers, provide 16 types of services, the second levels provide 13 services and the third level 9. The minimum number of services provided by youth centers in rural areas is set to be five types.

The design of the centers is also revised to add their attractiveness and modernity for which consensus was reached with regional administrations, she added.

According to Eleni there was no series administrative structure and system common for all youth centers and there was no accountability, so currently the government focused on the restructuring of the administrative and management system of the youth centers.

Based on the new standard of the youth centers, except youth related trainings and forums, it is prohibited to use the hall of youth centers for any meeting or other purpose. In many areas the centers are managed by boards but their authority entitled to control the board. But currently the new standard requires the formation of a General Assembly to check the service of the centers and the activity of the board.

In Addis Ababa there are 106 youth centers constructed well and provide different services. According to Eleni the ministry is working with the Ministry of Science and Technology to build science café's in the youth centers. In Addis Ababa the ministry has finalized building of science cafes in five youth centers. Two centers in Amhara state, two centers in Tigray, five centers in Oromia and two centers in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples region have also been selected for further establishment of science cafes, Eleni added.

Eleni stated that government gives attention to improve the service of the youth centers by establishing the same structural system, series management and administrations and a system of accountability since the centers are the places where the personality of the youth develops. Hence, to make the youth centers effective the youth, the society and private sectors should also play their own roles.


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