Female Empowerment

Female Empowerment

Louise de Marillac was a great believer in helping disadvantaged women. For example, she opened a school for young girls in France, girls who would otherwise have been forced to beg or to be prostitutes. The Daughters of Charity have of course drawn inspiration from this and one of their greatest aims in Ethiopia is to redress the gender disparity present in Ethiopian society. Being so well intertwined in local communities means the challenges are well understood and the various projects undertaken by the Daughters reflect this. The Daughters believe that when women have become equal to men within society, the whole of the country will reap the rewards and part of their mission will be achieved.

Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Gender equality in Ethiopia is generally considered to be poor compared to many other countries, including in sub-saharan Africa. Whilst some improvements have been made in recent times, such as in the provision of primary education and in the increase of paid workers outside agriculture, there are still many regions which have gross inequalities in access to paid employment and significant gaps in the labour market. As in many developing countries, Ethiopian women struggle with what is termed the ‘triple burden’. This comprises of work in child rearing, maintaining the home and in food production. Paid work can often be added to this list. 60% of all working women remain in agriculture. This is often very labour-intensive work and low pay. Generally in Ethiopia, employment opportunities and pay differ greatly between women and men. There are also dangers associated with being a woman in Ethiopia. There is widespread sexual violence and exploitation. A study conducted by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health found that 8% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years had reported being abducted, whilst 9% of adolescents had been raped. 15% of 10 to 24 year olds in Addis Ababa had reported being raped also. The health status of woman is also poorer than for men, with 76% morbidity rates compared to 24% for men. As can be seen from the above, gender inequality is still a big problem in Ethiopia.

Gender equality is one of the United Nations 17 global goals that make up the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Gender equality is generally accepted to aid economic growth, as it can reduce child mortality, fertility and provide the economy with fresh ideas and entrepreneurship. There is also improved economic opportunities for whole households, allowing future generations to flourish. It is clear then that improving equality for women does not merely help the women themselves, but the development of the whole nation. The Daughters have taken steps to engender equality in the communities they work in, helping many women and their families immensely in the process.