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Ethiopia: Information on sociological reports regarding the position of women in Ethiopian society, particularly on female genital mutilation (FGM); marriage practices and arranged marriages; educational and employment opportunities for women, on whether there are regional or religious elements involved and on the breakdown of literacy rates by gender

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 October 1996
Citation / Document Symbol ETH25150.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ethiopia: Information on sociological reports regarding the position of women in Ethiopian society, particularly on female genital mutilation (FGM); marriage practices and arranged marriages; educational and employment opportunities for women, on whether there are regional or religious elements involved and on the breakdown of literacy rates by gender, 1 October 1996, ETH25150.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac9354.html [accessed 29 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to Country Reports 1995, the Ethiopian Constitution provides for equality of women before the law (1996, 93). In practice, however, women have reportedly not achieved equality with men; "traditional and cultural factors place the man as the head of the household, and, in practice, men typically hold land tenure and property rights for the whole family" (ibid., 94).

The same source states that violence against women, including wife beating and rape, is a pervasive social problem that is widespread (ibid.). The crime of rape is under-reported due to the stigma attached to it (ibid.).

Discrimination against women exists in rural areas where women spend 13 hours a day performing household and agricultural duties (ibid). There are few employment opportunities for women in urban areas (ibid.). Additionally, the jobs available do not provide equal pay for work of equal value (ibid). According to this source, in 1993 the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), "launched an initiative to promote the equality of women by changing statutes, by including women's concerns in the Government's development planning, and by establishing women's affairs desks in each of the ministries" (ibid., 94).

Country Reports 1995 and The Hosken Report, a report on FGM published by the Women's International Network News in 1993 concur that FGM is a pervasive and very serious problem in Ethiopian society (1996, 94; 1993, 144). An organization dedicated to the eradication of this practice, the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia, reportedly enjoys government support (Country Reports 1995 1996, 94). According to the Hosken Report, however, the practice continues: "the reasons for continuing FGM...are linked to economic gain, to control of women by men, and to protect the traditional male-only land holding patterns" (1993., 151).

Since women reportedly marry at an early age, they also have children at an early age, thus preventing them from acquiring a higher education (Hosken 1993, 144). Country Reports 1995 adds that "early childhood marriage is prevalent in the rural areas with girls as young as age 9 being party to arranged marriages" (1996, 94). For more detailed information on these topics, please consult the attached documents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995. 1996. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Hosken, Fran P. 1993. 4th ed. The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. Washington, DC: Women's International Network News.

Attachments

Fellows, Ruth Anne. 1987. "Background Information on the Status of Women in Ethiopia." Paper Prepared for Canadian Embassy in Addis Ababa, pp. 1-43.

Fule, Getachew and Mesfin Tadesse. Ethiopian Village Studies. Edited by Philippa Bevan and Alula Pankhurst. Oxford: Department of Sociology, Addis Ababa University and the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford.

Hosken, Fran P. 1993. 4th ed. The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. Washington, DC: Women's International Network News.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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