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Empowering the Child Girl

In many societies in developing countries, parents see marriage as a priority for their adolescent daughters than education. Not only that, women are also vulnerable to violence. Ethiopia is also ranked among the top developing countries with low women school enrolment and high rate of violence against women, according to Ministry of Women and Children.

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 On the other hand, women have a central and unforgettable role in the history of the country, starting from the formation of the state to maintaining its independence and sovereignty. On top of that, without achieving women empowerment, realizing progressive and holistic development is unthinkable. That is why the Ethiopian government has given due attention to the issue and has been striving to ensure women empowerment in the country.

Five years ago, Ethiopia has started celebrating International Day of the Gild Child. And last week, the country celebrated the day for the fifth time here in the capital with the presence of various stakeholders and girls who came from the nine states of the federation. The day was also marked globally under the theme: With Her: A skilled Girl force for the 7th time.

International Day of the Gild Child is set to inspire girls, identify challenges they currently face, set to look for solutions and enable them to share the experiences of successful women. Particularly, the celebration has been having strong impact in inspiring girls to attend education and ending early marriage in Ethiopia, according to Yalem Tesgaye, Minister of Women and Children.

Yalem, opening the celebration also said, while the government is creating a lot of opportunities for women, women need to be committed enough to exploit the opportunities.

It is also revealed, the Ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders, has now prepared a new roadmap to empower women, and particularly girls, which include ending early marriage and female genital mutilation. The roadmap is expected to be presented to the public in the near future.

 “The Occasion enabled us to listen to the voice of girls and take lessons regarding how to solve their challenges.

 There are various factors that hindered women’s equal participation in Ethiopian societies’ socio-economic and political life. The influence of culture and tradition, low level of government involvement and lack of commitment from the side of women to empower themselves in utilizing whatever opportunities available have been the major reason for women to lag behind men in these aspects.

 But this time Ethiopia is witnessing unprecedented change in its political leadership by appointing its first ever female President in history and making sure that 50 percent of cabinet members are women. Further, women also occupied presidency of the Federal Supreme Court and Chairpersonship of the National Electoral Board. This shows that the country is putting words into action and inspiring all of us to continue investing on girls, said UNICEF Deputy Representative MS. Shalini Bahunguna.

 According to the Shalini, the government and the institutions that work for women empowerment should look urgently to protect the girls from violence, end early marriage and they need to ensure that girls have equal opportunities for education and skill development as boys.

Child marriage is a human rights violation which leads to other rights violation like the right to health, education, equality and etc. So the government and every class of the society and legal body should care, protect, and give chance for girls to demonstrate the abilities and potentials they have at hand.

Besides, the participant girls that came from different regions urged the government to expand health and education services in rural areas that specifically targets girls to help them with self development. Further, they stated, there is also need to scale up the awareness creation activities regarding the place of women in society.

According to the participants, if women in traditional societies like Ethiopia have to be empowered, they need special attention and care because of the cultural legacy that discourages them to pursue their dreams and become productive members of society.

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