Female leaders in India
In 2020, Priya Periyasmy became the leader of her village council in Tamil Nadu, a South Indian state that 68 million people populated. Despite gender quota laws in village council elections, female leaders in India are the vast minority and women must fight to do their jobs in a hostile work environment. Additionally, women who run for office often face sexual harassment and slanderous attacks. Following Periyasmy’s brave example, 15 female village council leaders in Tamil Nadu state have filed complaints about discrimination in the past six months.

Village Councilwomen Fight Discrimination

Periyasmy tolerated daily annoyances, with other council members not greeting her and asking her to sit on the floor during meetings. She initially ignored the discrimination, but the abuse she faced interfered with her ability to work. The panchayat vice-president regularly threatened her and once attacked her for sitting on a chair at work. Periyasmy went on strike and organized a sit-in protest with her husband. She and 15 other Dalit women in the same situation are demanding action under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dalit female leaders in India face heightened discrimination. They belong to the lowest caste in India’s social hierarchy.

In another village in Tamil Nadu called Attupakan, V. Sasikumar quit his factory job to support his mother when she became the first female Dalit village council president. After other members stopped her from talking at meetings and hoisting the flag on Independence Day, she asked the Madras High Court to protect her family.

Sasikumar points out the daily wage earner status of his parents. After the struggle of getting into a leading position, his mother now faces discrimination. Other council members would not allow her to do her job. Still, she has the full support of her family.

India reserves half of each state’s village council posts for women, resulting in the election of 1 million female village councilors. However, proposals for similar legislation for state and federal elections exist for 20 years already. The bills did not pass yet. The bipartisan Girls LEAD Act challenges this, increasing global female participation in democracy, human rights and governance.

Girls LEAD Act

About 132 million girls between 6-17 years old are not enrolled in school and only 24% of all national parliamentarians are women, which are two highly connected problems. Women largely have underrepresentation in politics, allowing men to sway important decisions, many of which only women. Through U.S. foreign assistance initiatives, the Girls LEAD Act identifies and addresses barriers to female political participation, providing support for civil society organizations that women lead. The act ensures that each foreign organization engages girls under 18, introducing them to political leadership early.

Promoting girls’ education and political engagement will reduce violence against women and transform more societies into democracies. Women’s leadership supports democracy through cooperation between parties and the understanding of citizens’ needs. According to research, female inclusion in peace negotiations decreases corruption. Additionally, the likelihood of childhood marriage will decrease by 5% for each year of a girl’s continued secondary schooling.

Normalizing women’s leadership in politics will break the stigma and negative cultural attitudes behind it, which is the root of the bigotry that Periyasmy faces. Passing the Girls LEAD Act would protect marginalized politicians, including the 16 female leaders in India who actively fight discrimination.

– Rebecca Pomerantz
Photo: Flickr

5 Facts About Women’s Rights in Panama
Panama has a world-class financial and banking sector. However, its steady economic growth has not been proportionate with the reduction of economic, social and political inequalities. Panama’s parliament does not represent the country’s women. As a result, they are subject to high levels of violence and injustice. Here are five facts about women’s rights in Panama. 

Gender Party Initiative

Panama launched the Gender Parity Initiative (GPI) to form alliances between the public sector, private sector and multilateral agencies to close economic gender gaps in 2018. The GPI allowed Panama to add resources, energy and proposals towards three core objectives. These objectives are to increase the number of women in leadership positions, increase women’s participation in the labor workforce and close gender wage gaps. These three objectives increase women’s rights in Panama through 15 different measures. The measures include building the personal and professional development of vulnerable women, assessing women’s decision-making in companies, supporting women in education and promoting women as property owners.

Voices of Indigenous Women

The Comprehensive Development Plan for Indigenous Peoples of Panama project published the Diagnosis of the Situation of Indigenous Women in Panama in 2017. This elevated indigenous women’s voices in development projects and policies. The contribution included seven indigenous ethnic groups in Panama to provide greater visibility to the concerns, challenges and proposals of indigenous women. Additionally, the diagnosis addressed political participation, female indigenous migration, sexual and reproductive health, violence, education and economic conditions. Therefore, this created an institutional framework for Panama to support women’s rights, women’s wellbeing and the local community.

International Women’s Strike

An International Women’s Strike occurred in Panama’s capital in March 2019. Women marched with posters that stated, “We are all workers.” They symbolically stopped at the Attorney General’s Office to demand respect and equality. The Mayor of Panama’s office and the National Institute of Women elevated the strike by organizing Divas del Mundo concerts, featuring entertainers Emeline Michel, Patricia Vlieg and Lila Downs. Furthermore, the National Institute of Culture held the Women’s Space Exhibition fair through the Office of Equal Opportunities. This opportunity uplifted women entrepreneurs by providing them a space to display and sell their goods.

In addition, the presidential candidate of the Panama Podemos Alliance José Blandón signed the V Pact Women on the same day as the march. This pact proposed to have a cabinet with half women and half men. Moreover, this would be a first in Panamanian history. Organizations including the Forum of Women in Political Parties, Panama Women’s Alliance and the National Coordinator of Indigenous Women in Panama convened V Pact Women. Blandón also added that he would enforce that women receive the same pay as men. He also wants to combat domestic violence.

The “Quarantine Without Violence” Campaign

Panama’s Ombudsman Maribel Coco alerted the authorities about the prevention, care and punishment of violence against women during COVID-19. Additionally, he launched the information campaign “Quarantine without violence.” The violent death and the femicide of women have steadily increased in Panama’s overcrowded communities due to difficulty in social distancing.

Panama’s Public Ministry registered 20 femicides in 2019. However, numbers have increased and the violent death of women has risen by 57.8%. The “Quarantine without violence” information campaign aims to protect women’s rights in Panama by raising awareness of their vulnerability to domestic violence, informing women about their rights, providing advice on how women should handle domestic violence and encourage reporting domestic violence cases. Furthermore, it aims to elevate women to work with the justice system, the media and members of the public force. This allows the authorities to remove the aggressor or the woman from the house.

Panama Government’s Steps to End Gender Discrimination

Panama implemented gender-based quarantine schedules in June 2020. These schedules allowed anyone to leave their homes with protective masks during permitted hours. In addition, they declared that people must remain two meters away from others. This gender-based quarantine schedule was an important step in addressing discrimination against transgender people. Others often profile or target people who identify as transgender because the system does not account for their gender identity and expression. As a result, many victims experienced arrest, received fines or could not buy essential goods. However, Panama announced a total lockdown in early 2021. As such, it re-implemented national gender-based measures stating people can only leave their homes based on their registered gender.

Panama’s national government is currently working with the United Nations through a five-year agreement called the Development Cooperation Framework. It aims to address and respond to Panama’s sustainable development. Contributions include access to quality services, governance, institutions, justice, environment, climate change and human rights. It is critical that women’s rights in Panama become a part of the development and growth of the nation moving forward.

– Giselle Magana
Photo: Flickr

Creates Jobs for Women in Ethiopia
Live fasionABLE is a slogan that transcends the fashion industry. It promotes sustainable practices in creating quality products and focuses on empowering women. The shift to ethically sourced products has grown in popularity among the younger generations. ABLE is one fashion business that strives to provide jobs for women in Ethiopia, as well as internationally.

ABLE in Ethiopia

ABLE’s mission is to challenge the culture of the fashion industry by creating transformative opportunities for women. It aims to provide quality products to improve people’s livelihood in Ethiopia. Thus, the business provides many women opportunities for employment. This is one way that ABLE contributes to alleviating global poverty.

ABLE provides jobs for women in Ethiopia exiting the sex trafficking industry. Employed women manufacture scarves and aid in production. The company trains and equips women to make beautiful, cultural and quality scarves. Less than 38.8% of women held positions in the workforce globally in 2020, highlighting the need for businesses like ABLE to prioritize hiring women.

About 80% of women living in rural areas of Ethiopia work in agricultural cultivation and production and rarely receive any compensation for their work. Furthermore, fathers and husbands often place strict restrictions on women. USAID states that one in three women in Ethiopia experiences one type of physical, emotional or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Providing employment opportunities for women increases their autonomy and financial independence.

Employment Opportunities

Women who receive employment are able to provide an avenue for their children and communities to thrive through economic empowerment. According to author Ain Wright, there are five different policy approaches to closing the gender gap in Ethiopia: welfare, efficiency, anti-poverty, equity and empowerment. ABLE utilizes all five of these strategies for women that it hires.

The welfare and the efficiency approach go hand in hand. Providing women with the means to support themselves motivates and empowers them to actively support their communities. Additionally, all women receive encouragement to discover their voices through the strategy of empowerment, anti-poverty and equity.

Gender Equality

One challenge in increasing employment for women remains deeply rooted in cultural expectations and gender norms. ABLE has a commitment to creating a culture based on equality and rebuilding women’s lives. The fashion industry offers the highest number of jobs to women globally. Yet, only 2% of these women receive a fair wage. ABLE posts its wages on its website for the public to see, allowing consumers to understand the importance of their purchase.

As ABLE grew, it expanded its network to provide jobs for women in Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Brazil and Nashville, U.S. The company partners with local communities to assist in developing individual economies rather than developing itself into a major fashion corporation. ABLE also believes that telling people’s stories affects consumer awareness. Women with employment there created a podcast to tell their stories of strength and hopes for the future. The podcast and products continue to build consumer awareness, alleviate poverty and empower women.

ABLE is making great strides to grow as a company and maintains its role as an ethically sourced fashion brand. Its efforts have created more jobs for women in Ethiopia, empowering them their families and their communities. Moving forward, it is essential that other fashion companies shift to sustainable and ethical practices.

– Kate Lucht
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in Argentina Argentina is a South American country with a vibrant culture and scenic views. In recent years, the feminist movement has taken root in Argentina, challenging elements of government and culture that have long been failing Argentinian women. Argentina has made great strides toward positive change and equality but the country still experiences high rates of femicide —  gender-based hate crimes that result in the intentional killing of females. Despite the hurdles the country has faced with regard to women’s rights in Argentina, the country is making efforts to create a more inclusive Argentina.

5 Facts About Women’s Rights in Argentina

  1. Argentina granted women the right to vote in 1947. Though Argentina was not the first South or Central American country to grant women the right to vote, it was one of the earlier countries in the region to allow women the right to stand for election. The country legalized female representation in government in the same year it legalized women’s rights to vote on September 29, 1947.
  2. Argentina has high rates of female leadership. Argentina ranks second in South America on the percentage of women in parliament. It also ranks 17th in the world for the same metric. Argentina actually has a higher percentage of women in parliament than many countries often thought of as leading in female empowerment such as Belgium and the Netherlands. Women’s rights in Argentina still need improvement, however, female political participation is definitely a strong suit.
  3. Argentina is taking action against femicide and violence against women. The National Action Plan to Prevent and End Violence against Women (2017-2019) launched following the 2015 Global Leaders’ Meeting where Argentina committed to working toward improved gender equality. The plan creates a framework for making policy change to improve the protection and prevention of violence against women. It also creates a system for monitoring the success of potential actions. To end trafficking and exploitation and strengthen victim protection, Argentina created a femicide registry and a council.
  4. Femicide remains an issue in the age of COVID-19. According to the Women’s Office of the Supreme Court of Justice, one Argentinian woman is killed every 32 hours. Though Argentina does not experience the highest rate of femicide in South America, it ranks among the highest rates globally with 298 femicides in 2020. The creation of a hotline in 2018 aimed to assist victims of gender-based violence. The hotline has received more than 169,014 calls, expressing the necessity for these types of services. In response to these issues, Argentina has committed to addressing violence against women to achieve the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. One way Argentina has committed to action is by joining the U.N. Spotlight initiative, a global campaign focused on combating gender-based violence worldwide. This commitment aims to improve women’s rights in Argentina.
  5. #NiUnaMenos. Beginning in 2015, #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) was born as a movement against femicide when Argentinian women gathered in Buenos Aires to protest the gender-based killings. The movement grew to encompass not only a call to end femicide but also a campaign to bring awareness to other forms of female discrimination in Argentina. #NiUnaMenos brought attention to violence and abuse toward women, most often in domestic environments that a partner has perpetuated, as well as economic inequality that disproportionately impacts females. The movement called upon policymakers to address the widening pay gap as well as the high female unemployment rate. The work of #NiUnaMenos has been largely successful as President Alberto Fernández and his administration have acknowledged the grievances the group has highlighted and pledged to create policy change to improve women’s rights in Argentina.

While violence toward women and femicide are issues in Argentina, the progress of the country to combat those challenges is a promising start toward eliminating them. Through the continued work of Argentina’s government, women’s rights in Argentina should continuously improve.

Jazmin Johnson
Photo: Flickr

How Promoting Gender Equality Can Help Fight TerrorismA 2020 brief by the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism denotes a reciprocal relationship between gender inequality and terrorism, whereby terrorism underpins gender inequality by inspiring violence against women. In the same manner, gender inequalities fuel terrorism and gender equality fights terrorism, as most terrorist groups exploit gender norms to violate women’s rights. Research by The Brookings Institution revealed that societies that prioritize gender equality are less likely to engage in internal and external violence. Consequently, gender equality and female empowerment are two of the most critical strategies to put in place to fight terrorism.

The Correlation between Gender Inequality and Terrorism

A study examining the in-depth link between gender, terrorism and foreign fighters hypothesized that countries that tolerate domestic violence against women are more likely to experience political violence and extremism. The same study found that the majority of radicalized individuals have a past history of domestic violence and crimes against women.

A strong correlation coefficient of 0.6 exists between lower levels of violence against women and higher democratic quality. As a higher level of democracy implies a lower prevalence of terrorism, this implicitly indicates that promoting gender equality strengthens efficient and effective democracy, which weakens terrorism. Democratic efforts further support the societal benefits of efforts where gender equality fights terrorism.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why both men and women engage in terrorism, compounding factors that primarily affect women may be one of the answers. In a cruelly cyclical manner, such factors include a lack of decision-making power over household finances and a desire for greater independence.

Furthermore, a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) lists rape and coercive familial relationships as among the factors that push women into terrorism.

Case study: Bangladesh & Morocco’s Success Stories

The strong correlation that exists between gender inequality and terrorism leaves no doubt that promoting gender equality and female empowerment is one of the best strategies to put into place to deter terrorism. This strategy has successfully worked in countries like Bangladesh and Morocco.

Since 2005, Bangladesh has not experienced any significant non-political terrorist attacks. Since 2011, Morocco has not either. A similarity between the two countries, apart from success in suppressing terrorism, is an emphasis on women’s empowerment and integration of counter-terrorism efforts.

As a Bangladeshi representative at the country’s Washington Embassy disclosed, the country substantially owes its success in countering terrorism to the inclusion of female empowerment in its local Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts.

Measures that the Bangladeshi Government has taken to empower women include employment efforts. The Ready-Made Garment (RMG) Industry is the largest employer of women in Bangladesh. For self-employment measures, the government established micro-credit and micro-lending programs for women, which have significantly improved the standards of living of Bangladeshi women. These lending programs have helped women start and successfully run small businesses.

The newfound sense of independence, self-esteem and self-worth among Bangladeshi women has increased their economic participation, furthered their education and boosted their social empowerment. Bangladesh has also worked to inspire girls through education by ensuring that 60% of remote primary school teachers are women.

Likewise, Morocco has implemented various measures which have successfully helped the country to curb extremism and terrorism. These include raising the minimum marriage age to 18 for women; allotting shared property rights through marriage; introducing restrictions on polygamy, which significantly lowered its incidence; allowing women to initiate divorce by law; and making it possible for women to retain custody of children after divorce.

Looking Ahead

Former Secretary to the U.N. Kofi Annan declared, “There is no development strategy more beneficial to society as a whole — women and men alike — than the one which involves women as central players.”

Promoting gender equality and female empowerment has proven to be a crucial measure to fight terrorism. The level of success at which this strategy has helped control terrorism in countries clearly signals its efficacy. Ultimately, gender equality fights terrorism, weakening it across the board and limiting those who engage in it in a variety of ways. Based on national examples, promoting and developing gender equality promises the same — or even better — results if enacted at a global level.

– Divine Mbabazi
Photo: Flickr

ICTsIn recent years, studies have shown that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have proven to be helpful for vulnerable communities on many different fronts. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been observed that women have increasingly used ICTs, especially those in developing countries.

Hear Her Voice Project

Hear Her Voice is a research project that stemmed from the pandemic itself, allowing 25 girls from five different countries, Bangladesh, India, Malawi, Nigeria and the United States, to share their experiences during COVID-19. These firsthand narratives are insightful as they vlog their daily lives from various different technological platforms. These intimate conversations equip the women with the tools to better educate the public on the struggles they face with menstrual health, relationships, mental health, isolation and livelihoods during COVID-19.

The platform showcased the struggles women had when it came to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), especially in Jaipur and Munger. One of the Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) is Carol, a 23-year-old woman from Munger, India, who shared her struggles with obtaining sanitary pads due to restricted mobility. When she first got her period during the lockdown, she was unable to obtain pads in time and was therefore left with no feminine hygiene products whatsoever.

Women Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

A study done by the U.N. found that women’s economic resources in Asia and the Pacific are being hit the most. The pandemic has made gender inequalities more prevalent than ever, with the discrepancy highest in family businesses, remittances, property and savings. On top of this, it has been found that COVID-19 governmental aid is not as readily available to women as they are for men. The report stated 84% of women outside of formal employment lack social protections like unemployment support or government financial help. Women are suffering more than men all across the charts: 61% saw decreases in their income, savings and investments; 66% saw their mental health plummeting and  63% saw increased time spent doing unpaid domestic work.

Similar Scenarios During Ebola and Zika

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, women had consistently been the sole caretakers and health care providers, putting them at a higher risk of contracting these highly contagious viruses. The Zika virus in Latin America displayed how reproductive health services were limited and overlooked due to health care services allocating all of their resources into combating the epidemic. These unequal gendered patterns are yet again repeating themselves with COVID-19, the disadvantages being most pronounced for women.

The Impact of ICTs

Overall, information and communication technologies have been utilized by vulnerable minority groups ever since the rise of their prevalence in recent years. These innovative technological modes of communication are reshaping and expanding the uses of social media. The Hear Her Voice project is one of the many initiatives that have been using ICTs in the wake of a pandemic, to give a voice to women and the unique challenges they face and bring global awareness, support and assistance.

Additionally, ICTs provide helplines, applications, resource centers and more, so that women so can access the help and support they require. These platforms are transforming lives by amplifying and uplifting the voices of women during COVID-19.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

Computers in Ghana
As one of the world’s poorest countries, Ghana’s poverty rate rests at around 55% with only 24% of Ghanaians possessing access to the internet. As a consequence, this lack of access otherwise imposes economic stagnation on its youth population due to the mere lack of computers within the country’s education system. However, educators have recently begun utilizing this powerful resource of computers in Ghana access and information technology within communities — with its positive impact already beginning to show. While computers evolve and improve Ghana’s education system, upward economic mobility grows with it. Here are three ways that computers and new technologies are improving the standard of living in Ghana:

Teaching 21st-Century Job Skills to Teens

Including computers in the Ghanaian education system helps teens develop valuable 21st-century technology skills. In an era that places great emphasis on phones, laptops and wireless communications, technological proficiency is essential. Programs like the Ghana Code Club have taught nearly 1,700 students and trained over 300 teachers. However, the Ghana Code Club cannot replace computer science classes. Moreover, for Ghana’s youth to learn valuable computer skills such as coding, the Ghanaian education system will need to create more computer, science classes and further boost access to computers in Ghana.

Increasing Earning Power and Incomes

A Pew Survey showed that computer users with an internet connection are more likely to have higher incomes. To that end, the University of Ghana offers a dedicated computer science course, nurturing software programmers who have the potential to earn up to three times as much as their professors. However, only expanding these systems will truly allow them to reach a wider demographic of people. Currently, only around 36 people graduate from the University of Ghana’s technology program annually. Many other areas of the country still do not experience these positive impacts.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

Although computers in Ghana are expanding social and economic standards, many traditional African communities profile against women and girls. New non-governmental organizations like STEMbees, a Ghana-based organization, allow young girls to learn coding in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other organizations – such as UNESCO’s Girls Can Code – also work to fight the battle against girl stereotypes in the African educational sphere. For example, UNESCO builds computer stations in Ghanaian villages and new schools equipped with the latest technologies.

Ghana is on the verge of a technological revolution as well as an industrial revolution. These two events will pull the country into a better future with greater opportunity for its children. As more computers get into the hands of Ghanaian students, the country’s standard of living continues to improve.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Digital Gender GapAs the world becomes more technologically advanced and digitally connected, access to technology remains an issue, especially in developing countries. More so, the digital gap between women and men continues to expand, with 300 million fewer women than men using mobile internet, creating a 20% gap. The lack of access to digital devices for these women means being denied essential services including employment opportunities, financial resources, educational resources and medical information. There are several global initiatives trying to bridge the digital gender gap between women and men.

Safaricom

In Kenya, women are 39% less likely than men to have access to mobile internet despite women making up 51% of the Kenyan population. Safaricom, a mobile network in Kenya, therefore created a partnership with Google to offer an affordable smartphone, the Neon Kicka with Android GO, compromising 500 megabytes of free data for the first month. The mobile network believes that empowering a woman empowers an entire community and focuses on the following three barriers: affordability, relevance and digital skills. The company ensured that the price point was the lowest it could be and featured important content including access to health information and educational content to highlight the smartphone’s daily relevance for women. Safaricom recognizes that many women are not familiar with Gmail accounts and therefore developed a guide covering the basics of smartphone use.

Novissi

Togo, a country in West Africa currently run by its first female prime minister, launched a digital cash transfer program called Novissi. Its goal is to provide aid to informal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, covering residents of three urban areas under lockdown. Many underserved women tend to be excluded from COVID-19 relief digital cash transfer programs launched by governments since they either do not have access to digital bank accounts or are uninformed. Through Novissi, women receive a monthly sum of $20, whereas men receive $17, to support the cost of food, communication services, power and water. The three additional dollars allocated to women account for the fact that women are more likely to be informal workers and take care of a family’s nutritional needs.

Wave Money

In Myanmar, Wave Money has become the number one mobile financial service, with 89% of the country benefiting from its agents. Since Wave Money deals with 85% of rural areas in the country, money enters and leaves from nearly every state and facilitates familiarity with the service. The financial service created a partnership with GSMA Connected Women to allow greater access to financial services for women. Through this partnership, women are encouraged to run Wave Money shops in Myanmar, providing them with extra income even if they live in very remote areas of the country.

Telesom Simple KYC Account

It can be challenging for women to acquire the identity documents necessary to open accounts with service providers. In Somaliland, Telesom created a simplified know-your-customer (KYC) account, allowing women that do not possess an ID to sign up for mobile money services. The service solely requires a name, date of birth, image and contact details, favoring accessibility and reducing the digital gap between women and men.

Equal Access International Partnership with Local Radio Station

In Nigeria, women and girls are denied access to technology due to the fear of moral decline that accompanies the widespread culture. Equal Access International recognizes the need to address societal norms for women and amplify women and girls’ voices. In an effort to do so, Equal Access International partnered with a local radio station in order to create a show that tackled cultural taboos and promoted women and girls using digital technologies. The episodes last 30 minutes and cover weekly themes including common misconceptions about the internet, internet safety and moral arguments regarding women and the internet.

Closing the Digital Gender Gap

Despite a digital gender gap that exists between women and men, organizations around the world are making an effort to foster a sense of inclusion and empowerment for women and girls to become familiar and encouraged to take on the digital world that is constantly emerging.

Sarah Frances
Photo: Flickr

Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Ethiopia faces many struggles, but the land where coffee originated has many accomplishments as well. The continuous progression made for gender equality in Ethiopia is one of them. Gender-based roles constitute a significant part of the Ethiopian culture. It is also the primary reason for many families’ extreme poverty. However, through policy reform and promoting women’s political participation, there has been a noteworthy change in bridging the gaps between women and men.

Policy Reforms Encourage Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Thanks to two reforms, research suggests that promoting gender equality in Ethiopia has become very feasible.

One reform is the Family Code, which was revised in 2000 with new developments. The re-evaluated version of the Family Code states that women receive equal rights throughout the marriage. This pertains to the entire term of their marriage, the duration of the divorce, and after the finalization of the divorce. The revisions also note that the individuals must equally split all assets. As a result, the report states that women were less likely to involve themselves in domestic work. Instead, women found more sustainable employment outside of the household, which encourages their independence.

The second reform is the community-based land registration, which was initiated in 2003. Ethiopia’s population has strong gender norms that tend to favor men and subordinate women in power roles. Research results have shown that as women migrate from the north of Ethiopia to the southern region, they tend to lose societal and household status. Women also have their “bargaining power” revoked from them, which can relate to property rights and ownership. However, this reform emphasizes the implementation of property rights for married women by creating “joint certification.”

A significant sign of independence in Ethiopia is property. However, men typically have land ownership in marriages. This reform opposes that gender-based norm in Ethiopia and allows women to access economic and political opportunities. When women own land, it increases their chances of earning money and controlling their own life. Rules set by their husband no longer have to confine them. They are also less likely to be victims of domestic violence. Ethiopian women who own property are significantly less likely to experience domestic violence within their marriage than women who do not own property.

Women’s Political Participation Rises

Women currently make up 37% of congress in Ethiopia. Considering only 22% of women represented congress in 2010, there has been significant progress ever since. However, the Ethiopian government’s accuracy and trustworthiness will remain in question until women account for at least 50% of the parliamentary seats.

The country also needs to make political careers more accessible to women. The “motherhood penalty” requires women to attend to constant family duties and responsibilities, such as breastfeeding and always being present for the children. Endless motherly duties can hinder their potential political career due to the amount of time it takes. This is especially true if a women’s marriage is based on strong religious beliefs. Certain religious beliefs in Ethiopia tend to prohibit women from having the independence they deserve and hinder their decision-making abilities.

DCA

In Ethiopia, women are perceived as those to be led, not to be the ones leading. However, recent years’ progression contradicts that idea. The organization DCA (Dan Church Aid) emphasizes the idea of women empowerment. They hold and spread the belief that every woman deserves fundamental human rights “economically, socially, and culturally.”

DCA was created in 1995 to promote gender equality in Ethiopia. Since then, the organization has helped over 3.2 million people in the world’s most impoverished countries deprived of everyday opportunities. Due to the continuous contribution of DCA and recognition from Ethiopia’s government regarding the encouragement of gender equality, the women of Ethiopia can seek more political positions and close those gender gaps within communities.

Montana Moore
Photo: Flickr

Women's Economic EmpowermentA whole two billion impoverished people worldwide, particularly women, are financially and economically excluded. Females are the poorest in the world and women earn on average only 60 to 75% of what men earn. Investing in women’s economic empowerment plays a crucial role in reducing poverty and establishing equality between men and women.

Gender Equality for Global Economic Advancement

The 2017 National Security Strategy states that societies that empower women in their civic and economic lives are more prosperous and peaceful. Studies show that gender equality contributes to advancing economies and sustainable development as well as overall poverty reduction.

CARE defines women’s economic empowerment as the process by which women increase their right to economic resources and power to make decisions that benefit themselves, their families and their communities. It is the transformative process that helps females move from limited economic power to possessing skills, resources and opportunities to compete equitably in markets and control economic gains. Women’s economic empowerment involves transforming the historically-limiting laws, policies, practices and norms through change and advocacy.

Women remain disproportionately affected by discrimination and exploitation. Women often end up in low-wage jobs and fill very few senior positions. Without secure employment, women lose access to economic assets such as land and loans, which limits opportunities to participate in economic and social policies.  Furthermore, many women are responsible for the majority of housework, which leaves little time to pursue employment or other economic opportunities. On average, women devote between one and three hours more a day to housework than men and two to 10 times the amount of time a day to child, elderly and sick care.

Additionally, laws in many countries determine what jobs women can do or give men the right to prevent their wives from accepting jobs.

Call to Action on Women’s Economic Empowerment

In October 2020, U.S. officials and 31 U.N. Member States virtually signed the Call to Action on Women’s Economic Empowerment, which encourages countries to address legal restrictions regarding women’s economic participation. Predictions are that if an equal number of men and women participate in the global economy, the gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by $12 trillion by 2025.

Improved financial security means women can afford healthcare, purchase essentials for their children and play a leadership role in their communities. Typically, women who decide where, when and how to spend their money see improvements in their social and economic status. Financially independent women also increase the level of resources devoted to their children.

Girl Power and the Future

There is strong evidence showing positive links between women’s economic empowerment and health outcomes for women and their families. This includes benefits in nutrition, better family planning and decreased maternal and child mortality. Other studies have found that increasing the share of income for women may provide greater investment in children’s education and result in reductions in gender-based violence. Overall, women’s economic empowerment benefits not just women but the entire world.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr