Ethiopian women struggle against inequality

ADDIS ABABA – Facing inequality, poverty and domestic violence, Ethiopian women are aspiring for a better future, as millions around the world as marking the International Women`s Day.

"I support my family. I pay school fees for my sisters and brothers. I am also married," Elzabeth Beyene, 21, a street mechanic, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

Beyene has been working in fixing cars for 12 years to support her family.

"Clients do not discriminate against me, but life is an everyday battle," she said.

Women make up around 49.5 percent of Ethiopia`s 90 million population.

Ethiopian women face numerous physical hardships such as carrying loads over long distances, grinding grain manually and working in the homestead.

Women in the Horn of African country also complain of fewer opportunities in employment and education than men.

According to government estimates, less than 35 percent of women have joined the workforce and that about 58 percent of the working women are in the informal sector.

"We have opened our eyes and began struggle to maintain gender equality," Misrak Sinishaw, Coordination Head of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs with the Ethiopian Government Communication Affairs Office, told AA.

In an effort to improve the status of women in the Horn of African country, the Ethiopian government has raised the marriage age from 15 to 18 years old.

The government has also granted women the right to share property in a household. It also banned the marriage of girls under 18 and slapped abductors of girls with jail sentences up to 20 years.

"Gender equality at work and in the entire society should not be a talk of March 8. We have a long way to go," said Etaferahu Abebe, a female social worker at a local non-governmental organization.

"The male world in Ethiopia still thinks that they are naturally created to rule over us,” she said.

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