Hailemariam and Roman Foundation held a consultation forum on the economic empowerment of women in South Omo Zone.
Last week; members of the Hailemariam and Roman Foundation (HRF) headed to Jinka, the administrative capital of South Omo Zone. Despite being a naturally and culturally endowed place where 16 ethnic groups live in perfect harmony; South Omo is also a place where women and girls are subjected to horrendous harmful traditional practices and downright economic exclusion.
HRF’s mission in Jinka was to consult with the zonal and woreda leadership as well as sector offices on identifying and removing the major barriers that impede the economic opportunities and benefits of women and girls. The two days consultation forum was organized with the support of the Embassy of Finland in Ethiopia. The forum was attended by more than 179 key representatives across the administration.
Opening the consultation forum; Ato Berhanu Arega vice-president of the South Omo Zone said HRF’s work in South Omo is instrumental to achieve the zone’s objective of ensuring the economic benefits of women. Ato Berhanu affirmed that the zone will provide unreserved support for the work of the foundation. In her recorded video message former First Lady of Ethiopia and the Chief Executive Officer of Hailemariam and Roman Foundation Wr. Roman Tesfaye stated on her part that the foundation will work in coordination with the leadership, all stakeholders, and the community at large towards the economic empowerment of women as well as the overall development of the South Omo communities.
The forum has formulated strategies and action points aiming at the economic empowerment and wellbeing of women and girls in the zone. The agreed action points include measures to ensure the economic rights of women enshrined in the constitution, increasing access to quality education for girls, eliminating harmful traditional practices that oppress women and girls, and providing vocational training that will allow women to acquire marketable skills. An agreement was reached to include and cascade the action points in the annual plans of the zone, woreda, and sector offices and back their implementation with budget and strong leadership commitment.
Participants of the forum acknowledged that uprooting the discrimination of women and girls and changing the demeaning traditional outlook towards them requires a community-wide consultation and awareness creation campaign to be jointly crafted and implemented with traditional leaders and the community.
Cognizant of the fact that educating girls is the guaranteed way of changing the economic and social status of women a plan to build an all-girls boarding school in the South Omo zone is initiated.
Hailemariam and Roman Foundation is an institution with a vision of creating healthy communities in a sustainably conserved environment. The key focus areas of the foundation are Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition, Women’s Economic Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Environment and Ecotourism.