Ethiopia is a country that is on the rise in global influence, population and economic power. The country has a long and rich history with plenty of powerful female figures, including empresses and heads of state. Still, the state of women’s rights in Ethiopia is not ideal, with women facing a lot of discrimination and far fewer opportunities. While women remain in fewer positions of power and at the wrong end of unequal gender relations, it appears the country is making progress.
The Gender Equality Issues
Ethiopia struggles with massive inequality between the sexes. The Global Gender Gap report in 2010 ranked Ethiopia 121st out of 134 countries in gender disparities. Inequality persists in multiple facets. U.N. Women lists these areas as being of particular concern:
Women suffer from several health inequalities like higher HIV prevalence, high maternal mortality and restricted access to healthcare. Women also participate far less in the workforce and suffer from the impacts of many traditional practices like child marriage and genital mutilation.
Further problems also plague Ethiopian women. In rural communities, women perform most agricultural labor but rarely receive pay or recognition for it. Gender-based violence is a significant problem yet community resources do not reach a lot of women. This is because 80% of Ethiopia’s population lives in rural areas with little infrastructure. Women also experience systemic discrimination regarding land ownership, education and the justice system.
Women’s rights in Ethiopia are not a lost cause. Global actors and Ethiopian organizations are doing plenty to strive for gender equality. These contributions are thus beginning to have a noticeable effect on the country and the fortunes of Ethiopian women.