Empowering women is empowering the society and hence the country as whole. Empowering women and ensuring equal rights for them are among the most efficient ways in any country to ensure societal progress.
Women make up half of the society; and hence, it should be self-evident that society will develop better and faster if everyone works together than when half the population is relegated to the kitchen deprived of economic and political participation.
Hundreds of academic studies have shown that economic freedom leads to higher rates of economic growth, higher levels of income, increased trust and honesty in government, protection of civil liberties, reductions in poverty, and improvements in health and educational outcomes.
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has been working aggressively to economically empower women by encouraging them to engage in income generating activities individually and/or collectively.
Currently, for instance, more than 2.8 million women entrepreneurs own small and medium businesses or micro enterprises in the country, according to the Ministry. Women who organize under cooperatives, associations, agriculture activities and independent self-help groups have been maximizing their benefits and improving their living standard.
On the other hand, as per the plan to improve the culture of saving and credit among women, the ministry have been offering awareness raising trainings. Currently, some 13 million women have access to saving services, and nationally, they save some three billion Birr annually. On the other hand, some 13 billion Birr worth of credit is available for some two million women, intended to strengthen their economic capacity.
Public Relations Senior Expert at the Ministry, Behailu Tesfeye told The Ethiopian Herald that his office has set a plan to empower four million women by improving their economic participation through development of entrepreneurial skills and job creation. For this to happen, the ministry is finalizing preparation to offer awareness raising trainings to women who have the desire to engage in their own business.
As to him, so far, the ministry has been providing trainings to over 6 million women and some two million women have been incorporated into micro and medium scale enterprises, independent self-support groups, cooperative associations, as well as agricultural production and other businesses.
What is more, some 400,000 women have also received training on mechanisms of income generation. The ministry has also created provided market linkage and shade for about 144,597 and 24,199 women entrepreneurs.
Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency has also created job opportunities for over a million citizens of whom more than 40 percent are women who are engaged in manufacturing, construction, urban agriculture, service and trade sectors. In the coming budget year, the Agency is planning to make sure that 50 percent of the job opportunities to be created would go for women, the Agency's report revealed.
Agency, Communication Directorate Team Leader Abozenech Negash said that the Agency has created job opportunity for 651,039 citizens in permanent and temporary basis, of whom some 29 percent were women.
In its ambition to achieve economic transformation, Ethiopia has been constructing several mega infrastructural projects including hydropower dams, railways and the likes. While some 1.6 million job opportunities have been created in this mega projects, 67.8 percent of the jobs have been offered to the youth and women. The remaining went to people with disability, refugees, repatriates, university and Technical and Vocational Education Training graduates.
Abozenech also noted that, nearly a 9 billion birr loan has been provided to 282,765 beneficiaries of which 42 percent are women. The loan help entrepreneurs to strength their business and solve challenges during its operation.
All in all, the initiatives are advancing the living standard and income generating capacity of women. "Woman economic empowerment would in turn play a key role in the overall economic progress of the country," Behailu underlined.