Empowering women, empowering a nation
A. Wondimagegn 11-1-18
I recently saw a facebook post which is read as “the notion which says women are mothers, women are sisters, women are wife, women are partners… is changed to women are ministers, women are presidents, women are influential figures.”
Such arguments dominated the scene following the assignment of 10 female ministers (50% of the total cabinet members) and the assignment of female president in the history of the nation. (It is to be recalled that the House of Peoples Representatives and House of Federation of FDRE assigned Her Excellency Sahilework Zewde as president of the nation).
It is a distinctive phenomenon for the nation which was far from ensuring gender equality in social, economic and political involvements. Our society has made a destitute of women’s rights which were bestowed upon them naturally and by the Constitution. The repercussion of our proverbs alone shows how negatively we were treating gender equality for long.
The prominent novel written by African writer Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, one of the highly regarded novels, clearly expressed that women are marginalized and the relationship between men and women are fixed by set of rules and norms. Women usually were related with housekeeping and related chores. For instance, women are expected only to cook, to clean the house, to look after the children. However, the novel also imparts about the position of women in the society.
Most importantly, in Ethiopia, gender-based discrimination and inequalities are very much apparent, although the government is working aggressively towards alleviating such problems. However, the depth of the problem made the efforts and results gained meager. As a result, low empowerment of women and high gender gap still impede the development process of the country.
The issue of women's empowerment and gender equality is at the top of agendas across the world. The role of women in society has grown enormously with the context of globalization. In the era where the globe comes to be a village, ensuring gender equality tends to be a question of existence.
Here then the newly crafted principles of synergy, love and forgiveness with a continuing notable changes brought hope to most of Ethiopians in all fields at large and gender equality in particular. Currently, Ethiopia has at a historic moment of economic, social and political transformation to ensure inclusive and sustainable development.
Of such inclusiveness, the empowerment of women and their participation through several socioeconomic and political reforms in the country is the primary one. In such, Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest sons of India said “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved, and it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”
The inclusion of women is one of the prime goals in the socioeconomic and political development. Women are a consumer and an equally endowed agent for fostering a wholesome political, social and economic development in the society.
Thus, in order to achieve the status of a developed country, it was needed to make women free from all the restraints and empowered. Besides, engaging them in every decisive and productive endeavors is mandatory.
Empowering is giving legitimate power or authority to perform the tasks. If women were empowered they would be able to participate in the planning and decision making task to contribute in the development programs and activities individually.
Ethiopia is expected to be able to build common ground and equitable opportunity for all so as to ensure development and prosperity. It would be something unrealistic to expect deep rooted stride while ignoring some half productive power.
The appointment of Sahilework, a former ambassador and United Nations special representative, as a president of the Republic, is taken as a mile stone in curbing the societal deep rooted gender inequality notion. After taking oath, she emphasized the role of women in building a nation and bringing about peace and harmony. Hence women need to play their part and leading role in promoting peace and sustainable development.
The president also urges women are pillars of family and a nation; and then, when women are hurt the whole family suffers.
The existence of a political system favoring the participation of women in the political decision-making process and governance creates favorable condition for women to come to leadership. But, due to the deep- rooted patriarchal mentality in the society, women are still victimized, humiliated, tortured and exploited. Even they are still subjected to discrimination in the social, economic and educational field. Though we witnessed strong and decisive women in different fields, the success of such few elites doesn’t represent the total sum.
On top of that, the appointment by itself cannot be taken as an end result. Since being on top position alone doesn’t define effectiveness, we expect strong decision making from them.
Gender equality and the participation of women is the priority of the nation. The Constitution and other policy and legal frameworks all clearly declare the fact. However, declarations alone will never bring the desired outcomes. Hence, women by themselves should strive to fill the gap and realize the desired outcome.