Gender Panel Discussion - Photo:Photo: RNE
Panel discussion: Moderator Sehin Tefera(PhD) and panellists Amb. Tadelech Hailemichael, Zewdie Abegaz, Seble Assefa, Kulsma Nur, Taye and Kidist Nekatibeb Photo: RNE

Gender Equality in Ethiopia 25 Years After the Beijing Declaration

What is the status of gender equality in Ethiopia 25 years after the Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights? UN Women and the AAU Center for Human Rights arranged a panel discussion 6 March, in connection with the International Women’s Day. The Nordic Embassies, which support both organisations, participated. It was an interesting and engaging intergenerational dialogue between well-known veterans and youth from the gender equality movement in Ethiopia.

In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Catherine Sozi, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, remarked that there is not a single country in the world that has achieved gender equality, and that we still need to bring all parties together for achieving this goal.

The Addis Ababa University (AAU) Centre for Human rights held an interesting opening speech, stating that academia should not be limited to ideas only, but that they should also take action.

Karin Poulsen, the ambassador of Denmark, represented the Nordic embassies. In her speech, she stated that women’s rights are no longer seen as controversial in Nordic countries, and Nordics are leading in regards of gender equality. On Women’s International Day we celebrate women’s solidarity in the further fight for women’s rights.

In the panel discussion, the veterans stated there has been an enormous development since Beijing. During that time they were discriminated against without knowing, and the Beijing conference was the beginning of the women’s movement in Ethiopia. As of today, gender equality has become an accepted agenda. The veterans applauded the youth for their effort, but at the same time stressed the need for continuity as each generation has their own agenda and strategy.

Generation equality was high on the agenda, asking how many generations it will take to create gender equality. There is a need for action from all generations, and we should be able to bring solutions for generations to come.

Several other current issues were also debated among the panellists and with the participants:

  • Importance of women participation in the upcoming election and in the political landscape
  • Political training and voters education for women independent on their party membership
  • Women representation not only in Parliament but also at Kebele and Woreda level
  • Social Media is a platform that can be used to reach women, as can women in the media
  • How to fight domestic violence, including strengthening the law and training police how to handle victims
  • Make women champions visible both today and in the history
  • Building of network, platforms and strategy to empower women and ensure no one is left behind
  • All women should be included, especially the women from rural areas
  • Women should be ladders for each other to help increase awareness on gender equality
  • Empowerment is not just about giving rights, rather it’s about giving girls and women the chance to decide for themselves