Women’s Empowerment

Globally, the majority of the world’s poor are women and when a woman lives in poverty, her family and the next generation are more likely to live in poverty. The empowerment of women and girls is not only important for a more inclusive society; it is a key component to achieving sustainable development.

Women’s Empowerment

ETHIOPIAID'S AIM: Support the well-being of disadvantaged women and children; Promote community development through the economic empowerment of women.

The Challenge

Statistically, as in most places in the developing world, women in Ethiopia disproportionately carry the burden of poverty. This is not only detrimental to fostering inclusive communities but it is an impediment to sustainable development. Young women, such as those migrating to urban areas in search of work opportunities, are particularly prone to  various forms of exploitation.

While Ethiopia has made incredible strides in promoting education and strengthening its economy, women and girls still lag behind in enjoying these developments. This is particularly true for women and girls from the poorest households and the most marginalized groups in society. With high rates of early marriage, gender based violence, HIV/AIDS, and maternal mortality, adolescent girls face unique risks to their health and livelihoods. Overcoming this challenge requires an integrated approach to women's empowerment that begins with a focus on girls and especially adolescent girls. 

Our Solution

We recognize that empowering women requires an integrated approach that builds the health, social, and economic assets of women and girls. Under this pillar, we strive to expand educational opportunities for poor women and girls, increase the earning capacity of marginalized women, and provide safe spaces for vulnerable girls to thrive.

Association for Women's Sanctuary (AWSAD): sheltering women and girls who have experienced physical and psychological harm
In 2017, Ethiopiaid begun supporting the AWSAD, a women-led organization and the first of its kind to provide assistance to victims of sexual violence. In four women-only shelters located in Addis Abeba and in Oromia, young women are provided with a safe shelter, live in solidarity with others who have experienced similar trauma, access counselling, educational support, legal aid, self-defense classes and other services to gain the confidence and skills necessary to rebuild their lives. The shelters are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cheshire Services: small loans program for women with disabilities

In 2013, Ethiopiaid launched a Sustainable Livelihoods Program with its partner Cheshire Services.  Part of a community rehabilitation project with Cheshire Services, this program offers loans and business training to disabled women and mothers of disabled children. Participants also form a revolving savings group, which acts as a sustainable source of credit. Most beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor and have been excluded from the workforce, denied access to banks and credit, and marginalized within their own communities. 

By participating in this program, women gain access to a bank account, a small loan, and business skills to develop their own income generating activities. Many participants earn their income through animal husbandry, preparing spices, or selling crops.  The program is unique from other microloan programs because we specifically target disabled women—a group that is often overlooked by main stream interventions.

Women & Health Alliance: crafts production training for healed fistula patients
Starting in 2015, Ethiopiaid began funding crafts production skills training for former fistula patients. This is a component of WAHA's integrated approach to help young women learn new skills and start a new life after years of having been shunned due to their incontinence. The training takes place in the Dabat crafts training and production centre, formally inaugurated in March 2016. Women learn basic numeracy and literacy, weaving, basketry and pottery. WAHA helps promote and sell their products in Gondar's thriving tourist markets, so that the women can earn a regular income  and become financially autonomous.

Hope Enterprises: tailoring training for single mothers 
In Ethiopia's cities, women face  huge challenges for access to the same opportunities as men. In cities, they have few economic and educational opportunities. As single mothers, they are even more marginalized. Based on market research, our partner Hope set up a short-term skills training in tailoring in Addis in 2016, to enable disadvantaged single mothers to acquire a trade and generate a sustainable income. Our partner purchased sewing machines, hired trainers and obtained government certification. The four-month certified training teaches women skills in making men and women’s clothing, school uniforms and Ethiopian traditional items, which are all in high demand in the capital.  Free transport is provided to trainees to the training site. 

  • Small loans and training

    2017: 100 women with a handicap will have access to small loans and become financially autonomous, for the benefit of their entire household

  • Training in rural setting

    2017: 30 former fistula patients will be trained in a variety of crafts production skills and will earn a sustainable income in a rural setting

  • Training in urban setting

    2017: 15 single mothers will be certified in tailoring, and will access a stable income in an urban setting

  • Safe houses for victims of violence

    2017: provide services for 50 girl victims of physical and/or psychological harm in one the two Addis Abeba shelters.

Our Impact

Since 2012, our partnerships have had the following results:

  • In Eastern Hararghe, 191 women with disabilities with empowered with small loans and business skills training to start their own business, yielding significant positive benefits for each member of her household, impacting over 1,000 dependents
  • In northern Amhara, 50 healed fistula patients were trained in crafts production, basic numeracy and literacy, were able to earn a sustainable income, became financially autonomous, recovered their dignity and reintegrated successfully their community
  • In Addis Ababa, 35 women have been certified in tailoring skills, are earning a stable income in the private sector or in government, and will be able to secure their offspring's education

Success Stories

Read our success studies here