More than 85% of Ethiopian women live in rural areas. They experience extreme hardship throughout their lives, doing everything from carrying heavy loads over long distances, cooking, raising children, working at home, and manually grinding corn. They have far fewer opportunities for education, employment, and personal growth when compared to men.
Some changes in the way women in Ethiopia are treated can be noticed in urban areas, where they can access healthcare, employment, and education. However, even when women are employed, they still hold jobs with extremely poor pay.
Around 40% of Ethiopian women who are employed are part of the low-paying service sector, which consists of bars, restaurants, and hotels. Several surveys also showed that female factory workers only earn a quarter of what men usually earn for similar work.
There is still significant gender inequality in education. Generally, girl students have no access to remedial tutorial classes or strong girls’ clubs to engage them in peer education and social empowerment. There are few female teachers to set good role models, help girls improve their academic performances, and tackle the generations-long discrimination. Age-old traditions and attitudes of discrimination account for an ongoing disparity in skills, abilities, potential income generation opportunities, representation, and decision-making ability regarding issues that affect the lives of families, the community, and the region.
Of course, many girls never get the opportunity to reach secondary school, ending their education around Grade 5. They may drop out due to sexual harassment and assault, and/or their parents may need them at home. Even if they make it to secondary school, the chance that their parents will be able or willing to pay fees for a girl is slim. They may then be forced into early marriages, sometimes when they are as young as 10, and they too often experience domestic violence in their marriages as well as vulnerability to HIV.
The cycle of destitution continues. We continue to work toward ending gender inequality and empowering women so they can have a brighter future.
The following statistics illustrate the gender discrimination in Ethiopia:
- Less than 1 in every 5 girls get the chance to enroll in secondary education
- About 41% of females get married before they reach 18
- About 49% of Ethiopian women experienced physical violence
- About 59% of Ethiopian women suffered from sexual violence