ADDIS ABABA- The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth said that it has envisioned to capitalize on the forthcoming General Elections to enhance women's participation in political decision making and boost their contribution in the democratic process.
Women Affairs Mainstreaming and Ensuring Benefit Director with the Ministry Tesfanesh Tefera told The Ethiopian Herald that they have partnered with political parties, women associations, media and other key actors to boost women's involvement in politics.
Accordingly, lobbies have been set up for all political parties including the ruling Prosperity Party to present their program alternatives thereby enabling voters to choose the party they believe to work for the benefit of women and equal participation in every sector.
The director stated that the ministry has conducted a research in women's participation in politics and leadership positions and find that their involvement is largely unsatisfactory from federal to wereda (district) levels.
The research pointed out that the widespread wrong perception about women's incapability to political leadership as well as women's lack of interest in politics are the major factors for their exclusion from political arena.
"Ethiopian women in the political leadership have demonstrated that they are as effective as men counterparts, but there is still a negative attitude that discriminate women's engagement in decision-making positions;
claiming that politics is men's domain." Noting that increasing women's participation in politics should not be left to a single government entity, Tesfanesh indicated that every relevant stakeholder is expected to play own part to help women overcome the existing obstacles.
Network of Ethiopian Women's Associations (NEWA) Program Manager Meseret Ali said on her part that strengthening women's participation in politics is one of the key areas the association has been working for.
NEWA has been conducted discussion with women members of various contending political parties on ways to develop their contribution in the political rule.
The network also broadcasted a weekly radio program concerning on women's political participation and representation for six weeks at Fana Broadcasting Network (FBC).
By the same token, NEWA has been discussing with all contending political parties with a view to encouraging the latter to mainstreaming gender in their political programs and giving consideration to women with disabilities.
Meseret further highlighted that the network translated the National Electoral Board's Education Manual of Election Campaign to brail in a bid to communicate the message to visually impaired citizens.
Recently, the African Applicant Woman Leadership Network has been established to help members to exchange experiences and access mentoring services, she noted.