Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – Despite the growing recognition of the interconnected nature of gender inequalities, globalisation, climate change, poverty and communicable diseases, among others, gender equality remains a missing link in many development policies and programmes, Ethiopia’s Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Zenebu Tadesse, said here Tuesday.
Addressing the fifth Meeting of African Union (AU) Ministers for Gender and Women’s Affairs, Zenebu called on African governments and continental institutions to critically review their achievements and weaknessses in the empowerment of women at all levels.
"African women must lead the African Renaissance and shape the vision of the AU for the next 50 years,” she said, pointing out that empowerment of women was not an issue for women only.
According to Zenebu, low investment in women’s education and healthcare services, limited access to finance, and legal and regulatory bottlenecks in efforts to empower women and their participation in decision making contribute to increasing gender gaps.
She explained that the Ethiopian government had made significant progress to ensure women participation in the country’s socio-economic and political activities.
While Ethiopia’s constitution devotes several articles to women’s rights, participation and benefits, the minister said that the government showed its commitment by taking legal and policy measures, designing and implementing programmes and strengthening institutional capacities to that effect.
Among Ethiopia’s notable achievements were women’s representation in the federal parliament that increased from 2.75 percent in 1995 to 27.8 percent in 2010, their participation in regional councils has grown from 30 percent to 50 percent, while in the federal executive positions the proportion of women in ministerial and ambassadorial ranks has significantly increased.
In the economic sector, women have equal rights with their husbands to use land and women-headed households have the right to own land.
The Ethiopian girls participation in the education sector has reached 94.4 percent in primary schools, 41 percent in secondary schools, 30.7 percent in undergraduate studies, 20.9 percent in post-graduate studies and 47 percent in technical and vocational training.
Observing that all African states have a common goal in ensuring women’s empowerment, Zenebu said that a sustainable African Renaissance must be inclusive with women and girls playing their role side by side with men and boys.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 14May2013