Overall, 26 percent of women age 15-49 in Ethiopia have experienced either physical or sexual violence, or both. Four percent of women have experienced physical violence during a pregnancy.
Among ever married women age 15-49 who have experienced physical violence since age 15, 68 percent report their current husbands/partners as perpetrators of physical violence, and 25 percent report former husbands/partners as perpetrators.
In Ethiopia, violence against women and girls continues to be a major challenge and a threat to women’s empowerment. Women and girls face physical, emotional, and sexual abuses that undermine their health and ability to earn a living; disrupt their social systems and relationships; and rob them of their childhood and education.
Thirty-four percent of ever married women in Ethiopia age 15-49 have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence. Six women out of ten think that the husband is justified in beating his wife in at least one of the specified situations: if the wife burns the food, argues with the husband, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or refuses sexual intercourse. For 18 percent of women their husband decides about the woman’s health care.
In addition, overall, only 23% of women aged 15-49 who have ever experienced any type of physical or sexual violence by anyone have sought help. Women usually do not tell anyone about the violence and remain therefore at risk.
This leads to cuts, bruises, or aches. However, a significant proportion of women who have experienced spousal violence also reported having serious injuries such as deep wounds, broken bones, and broken teeth (10%), as well as eye injuries, sprains, dislocations, or burns (7%).
This is not acceptable. Violence needs to be stopped. Women empowerment may be one of the ways. Nevertheless, empowering women may lead to further disputes in households. Therefore, interventions that include men and challenge the existing attitudes need to be put in place. We need men to respect women and support their empowerment.
In Ethiopia, half of the girls get married before 17.1 years of age. Three quarters of them then immediately drop school.
In some cases because they are busy with the house chores, in some cases because the new husband does not allow them to continue. This reduces significantly their education and personal development, and later on, also health and development of their children. Statistics prove that women with lower education are at higher risk of gender-based violence, maternal mortality; their children are more at risk of malnutrition, not receiving important vaccinations and health care. The worth of women in Ethiopia is measured based on the role she plays as a wife and mother.
More than 85 percent of Ethiopian women live in rural areas. They experience extreme hardship in their lives, doing everything from carrying heavy loads over long distances, cooking, raising children, working at home and manually grinding corn. They have far less opportunities for education, employment, and personal growth when compared to men. At the same time, only 37 percent of men assist with house chores, from which majority only rarely.
Access to health services is often limited, and hygienic conditions in rural areas are unacceptable. Girls do not have any means of managing their periods and skip school when they have their days to avoid embarrassment. Absolute lack of safe, private and clean toilets or clean water at schools create additional barrier for girls to attend school.
Some changes in the way women in Ethiopia are treated can be noticed in urban areas, where they can access health care, employment, and education. However, for the majority of girls and women early marriage remains the only way of securing their future.
Our organization continues to work toward ending gender inequality and empowering women in access to education, finding funding and jobs opportunities and setting their goals. ECYDO works towards changing the social norms and challenging the gender stereotypes by dialogues with communities. The potential of girls and women can be an enormous contribution to the socio-economic development of the society.
The only word that can describe the fact that 65 percent of women in Ethiopia age 15-49 are circumcised, i.e. have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) in their childhood or puberty, a procedure when parts of their intimate area are cut and modified.
According to recent data, the number and prevalence have dropped. According to their mothers, 16% of girls age 0-14 are circumcised. However, the number relies on self-reporting of mothers, and maybe thus underestimated. FGM is illegal in Ethiopia. Therefore, it is possible that the procedure is still ongoing, but happens in more secrecy, behind closed doors and at night. Law enforcement is weak. Only a very few persons have been penalized for performing it. The government of Ethiopia is currently preparing a campaign to end FGM and identified the following key areas to get closer to it: improving availability of data; strengthening coordination; putting in place accountability to enhance enforcement of the existing law; and increasing the budget for the effort to end the practice altogether or decrease it by 10%.
Myths around this dangerous, dreadful procedure cause this harmful tradition to continue. Almost a quarter of women, 24%, believe that the practice is required by their religion, and 18% believe that the practice should continue. More interestingly, men support the procedure less than women. However, missing information and missing dialogue between genders and generations create misunderstandings in expectations and prolong the struggle. ECYDO works with communities, increases awareness about FGM/C, provides an opportunity to talk about the issue and communicate views, challenge views, and removes these myths in order to stop it for good.