Source: The Ethiopian Herald
Just like other developing countries and few developed nations as well as the days of yore, women in Ethiopia until recent past were pushed from the boons of social life owing to the deeply entrenched and culturally programmed positive bias or preferential treatments accorded to males.
Since parents opted to saddle their daughters with nonstop domestic chores letting boys enjoy themselves and devote more time for studies, it was with one hand tied behind their back, members of the fair-sex were engaging in academic pursuit that could allow them to go high up the social ladder.
Women were also expected to give birth to ten to thirteen children. Deprived of a reproductive health service they were encumbered by raising to many children to grab a higher wrung on the social ladder.
In the dark past in the countryside many were the instances girls' chance of joining higher learning institutions went up in smoke due to abduction and early marriage.
Yet against the teeth of discrimination few women had managed to make it. Such-standard bearers had demonstrated, given a level ground, women have equal mental caliber than their male counterparts if not better.
Firing the canon of patriarchy, there is a call for making up for the artificial gap created.
In a bid to set a fertile ground that allows women in general and girls in particular unleash their talent and potential towards contributing their due share for the growth of the country, the government of Ethiopia has never been remiss in setting favorable situations and legal grounds.
Various activities carried out in this channel substantiate this fact. For instance following the government's push to increase the number of female students joining higher learning institutions, their number has begun snowballing thereby fostering women's long academic pursuit.
As per affirmative actions, nowadays female students are afforded a wider chance to join higher learning institutions. Such appreciation-worthy practices testify the government's resoluteness in ensuring an across the board treatment of citizens from gender categories of each side.
Aside from serving an impetus to aspiring members of the fair sex that set foot on the arduous track of academic pursuit, it as well tells on the government's commitment to see to human and constitutional rights of citizens. Parallel to this, conferring focal attention on women,in the new education policy and training, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has been facilitating the establishment of gender offices at all levels and following developments.
It as well has been mapping women's educational strategy and monitoring their going into effect. As it is known, MoE via its gender office has been sensitizing all higher learning institutions in the country about the significance of drafting gender policies. To get the ball rolling,it was closely monitoring developments.
The small number of female students in higher institutions,the need for reaching all with equitable access of higher learning institution and addressing the low level participation of women in the teaching and learning process of higher learning institutions as well as training given at higher level are attributable to the underlying causative forces behind the move.
The fact that through there are capable women the major segment of government and public universities are headed by male presidents and vice presidents throws light on the unfairness of the gender disparity. The grim picture in no uncertain terms shows there is a lot to be desired in ensuring the observance of the human rights of women and young girls.
Over the years various remedial activities had been carried out to raise the number of female students in higher learning institutions in administrative echelons.
Following this move recent studies show that female students comprise over 30.06 per cent of the aggregate number of students in higher learning institutions.
Yet to achieve the goal set in the GTPs there is a call for pushing this figure up. Though the incentive introduced to increase female instructors is bearing fruit,extra exertion is called for to multiply over the figure. Also special efforts are underway to raise the number of competent women in administrative posts of higher learning.To this effect incentives are underway to attract more women to such administrative posts. Nonetheless this trend-changing step forward begs for more attention.
Against this backdrop, the gender policy, the Addiss Ababa University gender office designed for students,academic staff and the support unit is deemed to play a crucial role.
Presenting the policy at a validation workshop,officials noted "The objective of the policy is to put in place institutional mechanisms of addressing gender imbalances in academic and research activities as well as community service of the university."
Such an exemplary move conveys a message to other universities that have not yet prepared gender policy. They must follow suit, for empowering women must echo at all corners of the country and in every walk of life. Based on the objective reality of the country and legal frameworks, important inputs to be derived from A.A.U's gender policy could play a significant role. MoE must stand by the sides of higher learning institutions.
By Uliah Mela