In the absence of any practical experience in the area of funding locally and a volunteering culture, it has been a difficult job for women’s rights advocates to survive, let alone continue their day to day activities. Some women’s rights organizations have closed relevant departments such as public relations to minimize cost. These departments, prior to the CSP were involved in outreach programs and promotional activities that contributed to the demand for legal aid services by women who are victims of domestic violence.
Practical difficulties: Women’s right to freedom of association
As discussed above, the FDRE constitution broadly recognizes women rights under Article 35 and women’s right to freedom of association under Article 31. The most restrictive feature of the CSP is its funding precincts. This actually made the application of the right to freedom of association practically impossible. Under the CSP, Ethiopian charities and societies can work on the promotion and advancement of women’s rights if they are able to mobilize a minimum of 90% of their annual budget internally.
This aspect of the law became a big challenge for the sustainability of programs run by many of the women’s rights organizations such as legal aid service. They faced huge obstacles in raising funds from local sources to run legal aid centers. Most of these local CSOs rely on volunteer legal counselors without even covering transportation cost. This volunteer arrangement has affected the service negatively. In addition to this, the budget for the victims’ fund, which used to facilitate women’s access to justice, has been minimal. Court cases, which need representation, could not be handled, as there is no adequate funding for such services. Follow up on cases at courts, police stations, and public prosecution offices cannot be done as much as the demand, as there is a lack of human capital and due to the high cost of fuel.