Women and girls from rural communities in the Somali region of Ethiopia reflect on their rights on the occasion of International Women’s Day
24 March, 2023
Ethiopia is one of the countries in the world where inequality between men and women is highest. The Somali region in particular has one of the highest rates of early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Due to the impact of the drought in the Horn of Africa, during the last two and a half years, the livelihoods of farmers and agro-pastoralists have been seriously affected, especially in the lowlands of the Somali region and in Oromia.

It is estimated that more than 8.2 million people are affected, of which more than half have been forced to be displaced.

The drought has hit women disproportionately in Ethiopia, where there has been a high dropout rate for girls as they are required to cope with the increased burden of household chores.

In November 2022, due to the drought, more than 2,000 schools were closed, affecting more than 682,000 students.

Furthermore, in the regions of Ethiopia most affected by drought, child marriage has more than doubled on average in the space of a year, according to a UNICEF analysis at the end of 2022.

In this context, within the framework of the 2018 Agreement, financed by AECID, which Social Promotion Foundation implements in consortium with NGO Rescate, and the local counterparts ECC-SADCBOH and HAVOYOCO, International Women’s Day was celebrated.

An event was organized in Haroreys woreda to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, early marriage and female genital mutilation and to promote positive learning among students and the community.

Regional and local government authorities, representatives of the regional and local women’s office, and the President of the woreda participated in it.

The aim of the event was to raise awareness, not only among women and girls, but also among men, about the recognized rights of women in Ethiopian law and the need to promote equal opportunities between women and men in their communities.

Very specific issues such as child marriage, girls dropping out of school and sexist violence were addressed.

More than 150 people participated in the event, mostly women and girls, but also authorities and local and religious leaders and children from schools.

Several relevant people, such as the ECC gender expert, as well as workers from the women’s office, made speeches to raise awareness of both the authorities and civil society on these issues.

On this occasion, women and girls had the leading role. And to give it a festive and vindictive air, they performed different performances such as Somali dances and theatrical performances with a tone of criticism of the inequality between women and men, child marriages and FGM.

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