My family found out that I was a singer when I was growing up

Over the past few months, we have been consulting with over 25 women’s rights organisations as well as trade unions and civil society organisations in Ethiopia and Uganda, to learn more about the situation of women’s economic rights in these countries. While women’s rights movements are working to provide women with reliable sources of income, they face challenges in their gains.

In Ethiopia, the government’s investment in the manufacturing sector is opening up job prospects for women to work in the garment and footwear industry. Huge industrial parks are springing up around the capital, Addis Ababa, ready to employ hundreds of thousands of women.

Globally, women represent 80% of those working in the garment industry, facing low pay and sexual and other forms of harassment. Many lack the right to safe working conditions and to social protection such as sickness and disability pay and paid maternity leave, as well as pensions. So, whilst the industry offers women some prospect of earning their own money, conditions are exploitative.
A solution in Ethiopia
Proving there are alternative ways of working that are fair and effective, women-led cooperatives are successful in various sectors such as coffee, honey and textiles. They are making a difference in the lives of many rural women and girls in Ethiopia, exporting their goods globally and sharing their experience with other women-led cooperative movements. These cooperatives in Ethiopia are so strong that they have established their own bank, ENAT Bank, to overcome the challenges their members face when trying to access credit.
As we grow our work on economic rights at Womankind, we are committed to supporting women’s rights movements to tackle the big economic challenges that shape women’s lives, to make the economy work for women.
Historically, women had been subjected to serious marginalization in the male dominated patriarchal society. Discriminatory and stereotyped cultural practices accompanied by weak legal frameworks had a significant place in the women’s suffer. The current regime of Ethiopia has been aggressively working in the revision and enactment of several laws and policies so as to ensure the protection of the rights of women. Nevertheless, the change brought has not been satisfactory. The deeply rooted stereotype perception and bad cultural practices remained to pose challenges in the protection and promotion of women’s rights. Besides, lack of uniformity among family laws of the country continues to contribute for the domination of women. Moreover, lack of capacity of women’s institutional machineries has also contributed to the prevailing problems. Thus, though the laws of the country are informed by the principle of gender equality women are still subject to serious violations of their rights. The study, therefore, calls for strong commitment of the government in the practical implementation of women’s rights, to modify such bad culture to be friendly with women’s rights and to build the capacity of women’s institutional machineries.

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