Measure of Gender Parity Needs to Rise Above Statistics




Nothing breaks my heart more than the victimisation of innocent young women. Cases of rape have become all too common. For this, we have the lack of a robust justice system and wrongful societal practices to thank.

Violence against women stems from the historical marginalisation of women in political and economic decision-making processes. It is worst in rural areas. Women are denied birthrights and fundamental freedoms that their male counterparts are privy to. There may be legal constraints against these, but harmful traditions and customs can be annoyingly hard to eschew for generations.

The countless reports of heinous crimes and calls for justice from organisations such as the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association fill me with grief, fear, anger and frustration. The problem is escalating because the implementation of laws is mediated by deeply entrenched problems that get in the way of gender parity.

Certainly, achieving gender equality in Ethiopia is a complex task of which organisations and government have just begun to scratch the surface. Violence against women and girls is a global problem that continues to hinder social harmony.

Staggeringly, it is estimated that a third of all women experience physical or sexual violence, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). And over a third of the women that have been murdered are killed by their partners and hundreds of millions of women around the globe have experienced female genital mutilation.

That the vestiges of the patriarchal system still remain are the core issues behind the problems. Reports say that men who fail to provide for their family are more likely to be abusive, exerting power over women and children in frustration as a response to unmet societal demands.

Alcoholism and experience of violence during childhood could also be contributing factors. Boys who are subjected to harsh physical punishment and witness their mothers getting beaten are more likely to commit violence in adulthood.

Although gender-based violence exists in most developed nations, evidence suggests that men in developing nations who are discriminated against within their societies are more prone to perpetuating violence. Economic stress brought on by unemployment and feelings of social exclusion can lead to anger and frustration, which can be released on women.

Thus, despite the notable strides made toward protecting women in Ethiopia, they are exposed to several cases of abuse and crimes. Women’s participation in education and politics also remains unsatisfactory.

Ethiopia’s failure to actualise gender equality is a result of a failure to make a real difference in women’s lives in all aspects besides just coming up with policies. Efforts need to go beyond achieving statistics for gender parity. Respecting rights requires a robust implementation of laws and a mindset change.

Gender parity is a fundamental right for society and enables economic growth to thrive. Safeguarding the full development of female talent will have a full bearing on growth.

Failure to address the gender gap will entail significant damage. If violence against women is not prosecuted appropriately, it can be normalised, perpetuating the problem.

Increasing women’s awareness about their rights is vital in fighting violence. However, the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by solving the cause – the discriminatory mindset toward women.

Prevention should start early with children, by educating and working with young boys and girls. Public policies and interventions often overlook this stage, but it is a critical time when values and norms around gender equality are appropriately shaped. Collaboration can remove the deeply rooted inequalities and social norms that perpetuate control and power over women, enforcing respect and care for one another.

A strong focus on promoting gender equality also means making the home and public spaces safe for women and girls. Including gender equality in academic curricula provides young people with the knowledge to understand the root causes of violence in their communities. It will allow them to educate and involve their peers and communities to prevent such violence, while learning about where to access support if violence is experienced.

Building societal harmony and a strong economy that are both progressive and inclusive require an equal opportunity to all. When women and girls are not integrated as both beneficiaries and shapers, the country will lose out on the skills, ideas and perspectives that are critical to any economy.

 



By Eden Sahle
Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law and international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

Published on Sep 08,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 958]


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