INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Upholding the banner for Justice and Equality EPRP( D )
EPRP (Democratic) joins Ethiopian women and all other women throughout the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. Since its inception in 1911, International Women’s Day has been a symbol for the great struggle and advancement of women’s cause worldwide. March 8 is a day for celebration, a cause to honour those who have contributed for the advancement of
women’s rights and a time for thinking ahead about what still remains to be achieved.
Ethiopian women both in the past and today continue to undertake unparalleled responsibility. Everywhere in the country, women shoulder almost all household responsibilities. They take the lion’s share in raising children, educating them, feeding their families…etc. Women are also a major force in rural household income earning, in particular in the field of agricultural food
production. Because of the crucial role played by women, one can say that the future of our country heavily depends on uplifting the status of women including their full involvement in decision making.
In today’s Ethiopia, despite the ruling group’s rhetoric, the reality on the ground shows that Ethiopian women endure horrifying repression. They are engaged in continuous battle for the respect of their basic rights. Women are the most afflicted by a variety of social and cultural ills and subjected to a number of economic and political inequalities. Because of the grinding
poverty in the country, huge numbers of Ethiopian women suffer from lack of basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter. They are exposed to endless malnutrition and hunger. In the absence of any other dignified alternative to make living, Ethiopian women are forced into being sex workers to make ends meet. They are both sent as contract-labours and some of them smuggled to the Middle East to work as maids sustaining unspeakable physical and emotional abuses including beatings, rape, inhumane treatments, and murder. Ethiopian women are disproportionately infected with HIV/AIDS and die pre-maturely lacking medical assistant and dignity.
At the root of the perpetuation of these abominable socio-economic conditions and sufferings of the Ethiopian women are the policies and practices of TPLF/EPRDF. The ruling group’s policies and practices continue to deny women the basic tools to defend their rights, challenge repressive practice and break the vicious cycle of poverty. Despite the fact that women still constitute the pillars of families and the society at large in Ethiopia, they are denied the right to organize freely,
to express their points of view freely on marital conditions and status, as well as on political, social and economic realities of the country. Because of the repression on freedom of expression, the ruling group’s oppressive government has silenced women, as well as all other citizens, and forced them to live with their sufferings. They are unable to freely debate, criticize and challenge government policies and practices that bound them to a never ending misery, discrimination and male domination.
The most repressive Charities and Association Act, imposed by the ruling TPLF/EPRDF regime has further exacerbated the conditions of Ethiopian women, by basically prohibiting them from organizing, even at a Non Governmental Organization level (NGO), to freely engage in any meaningful advocacy to defend their rights.
In today’s Ethiopia, women who stand up for justice and political rights are antagonized, targeted for abuse, and brutally repressed. The “disappearance” of Aberash Berta, a veteran member of EPRP; the imprisonment of the well-known journalist Serkalem Addis for writing against the massacre of peaceful demonstrators in 2005; the twice imprisonment and torture of the
opposition UDJ (Andenet) party leader Betrukan Mideksa, and the ongoing harassment of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association are just few such examples.
Despite the unparalleled systemic repression and utter disregard by the ruling party, history has shown time and again that repression cannot be sustained forever. As shown recently in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, there is no doubt that sooner or later Ethiopian women too will rise up with their male compatriots to defend their rights. Women’s right is a human right. A society that does not respect women’s right cannot be free and cannot realize its full potential.
On this 100th anniversary of the International Women’s day, EPRP (Democratic) salutes the unparalleled contributions, struggle and heroic sacrifice of Ethiopian women and recommits itself to safeguard and protect the rights of women and to continue fighting to end any and all forms of disenfranchisement.
All humanity will be free when women are equal and free!!