International Women’s Day – Norway’s Support to Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Last updated: 08.03.2016 // Today is International Women’s Day and it is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Norway has been supporting the efforts of the Ethiopian Government in the promotion of gender equality, women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, and the fight against FGM, through the following programs:


1.   Support to the Elimination of FGM in Ethiopia:

The Norwegian government has been supporting the efforts for the elimination of FGM in Ethiopia since 2006. There is evidence that the efforts have contributed towards reducing the prevalence of FGM in Ethiopia. The encouraging results have motivated us to continue our support for the coming years. This is in line with Norwegian government’s strategy and commitment for the elimination of, child marriage, and early and forced marriage. In 2014, our Government adopted a new strategy for intensifying international efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation. We commend Ethiopia’s commitment to eliminate FGM and Child marriage by 2025. Read more about the program here


2.   Support to Sexual and Reproductive Health:

Through the support to the Program on Rights based approach to adolescents and youth development implemented by UNICEF and UNFPA, local governmental institutions have been actively engaged in reaching  adolescents and young girls and boys by creating a sustainable and enabling environment, which will result in the enhancement of young people’s capacity to claim their rights and access an integrated package of youth-friendly services. In addition, the Program has contributed in addressing gender inequalities which limit young women and girls’ participation, access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services and low economic empowerment through social protection, improving access to justice, and livelihood opportunities.


3.   Support to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment:

The Norwegian government has been extending financial support to the Joint Program on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE JP) (July 2012 – June 2016). The Program aims at increasing income of women in rural and urban settings; increasing women’s education, leadership  and participation in local decisions making; building the capacity of Federal and Local government institutions in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls.


4.   Women's Rights in the Judicial System in Ethiopia (ILPI):

The overall objective of this project is to assess Ethiopia’s progress towards realising its international obligations to offer protection and enforcement of international human rights standards through the state judicial system, with a particular focus on women´s human rights. The project is also the preparation for a second phase, focusing on a capacity building programme to strengthen the protection and enforcement of women’s rights. Read more about the program here.

5.   CSSP Support to Women and Girls in Ethiopia

CSSP has contributed towards protection of women and girls from violence and creation of just power relationships through support to its flagship programme, SASA!.
SASA! (by Raising Voices)  is an  approach to addressing the causes of domestic violence and other violence experienced by women and girls. This approach developed and trialled in Uganda by the organisation Raising Voices, is now being used and adapted in different parts of the world. SASA! means ‘Now’ in Kiswahili saying that ‘Now is the time to prevent violence against women’. SASA! also stands for: Start, Awareness, Sensitisation and Action, which are the four stages of the approach. Women’s Associations of Addis Ababa, Oromia and Tigray have taken part on the Program. The CSOs have established SASA! teams in their respective organisations to addresses violence against women. Women activists have been trained on gender equality and Women's Rights.  Moreover, efforts have been made to increase participation of women and address the unequal distribution of power, authority and responsibility by enhancing their leadership skills. In this respect, women have benefited from the Leadership Development Programme that included a component on ‘women’s leadership development’.

The following case extracted from the results review conducted in 2015 can be considered as an evidence of the positive results achieved by CSSP: 

SASA!/Oromia Women Association (OWA) in Debrelibanos woreda –

  • SASA! is implemented by a SASA! team (staff, schools, voluntary women and men) and community activists. The tool itself requires intensive cooperation and working relations between the community and the CSO/project partner. The tool initiates the community to be activist in dealing with violence against women (VAW).
  • The community activists (CAs) are well known in the community and are recognized by their umbrella, torch, first aid kit, boots, etc and they talk about VAW everywhere; in the market, in the Church, at Idir meetings, on different events (mourning, wedding). This has made the project popular. According to the government sector offices, SASA! and violence against women (VAW) have become the day-to-day language of everyone in the two Kebeles and more and more in the entire woreda.
  • The tool has helped OWA (the CSO) to come closer to the community and, this in turn, helped to strengthen the association and make it visible. The community understood the objectives and activities of the association. Financial contribution of the members to the association has increased.
  • SASA! involves the participation of woreda sector offices (Women and Children Affairs, Education, Health, etc.) and secondary CAs and school SASA! clubs (teachers and students)
  • In the course of establishing and training of the CAs and secondary CAs, OWA/the CSO has been able to establish good working relations with the sector offices. The woreda administration gave an office to OWA to implement the project. The woreda women and children affairs office has been active in mobilizing the community to actively participate in the project.
  • VAW is one of the major challenges in the woreda and it is one of the top priorities for the communities and woreda women and children affairs office. Currently the attitude of the community towards VAW is showing progressive change. The woreda sector offices think and the community.
  • SASA! is a good tool that engages the community to take proactive role to minimize VAW. According to the woreda government sector offices, the impact of SASA! will sustain for a long time and it will easily diffuse to other parts of the woreda and goes even beyond the woreda. It is also a good tool to reach out to a wider society. However, more should be done to disseminate the message to the wider society.

 Read more about the program here.

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