Youth & Women Economic Empowerment (Y&WEE)

“Women are key drivers of economic growth and that wealth in the hands of women leads to much more equitable outcomes in terms of the quality of life of families and communities,” the study, entitled State of Women in Cities Report 2012/13, said: “Addressing the barriers to women’s participation creates a situation where women’s potential is more fully realized and households, communities and governments also reap rewards.”

Little is said about the violent cultural traditions, economic isolation, and extreme poverty that pastoral women and girls face on a daily basis. Girls are denied access to education, depriving them of the only avenue out of poverty and cruelty. Mutilation, whipping, and early marriage are all commonplace, exposing women and young girls to unspeakable physical and psychological torture. Even more concerning is the trend of connecting destructive traditional practices against women and girls with the South & West Omo community’s cultural identity, as well as its commercialization through well-intentioned tourism with negative consequences for women and girls.

Increased workload and resource shortage puts pastoral women of Ethiopia under pressure to meet household food requirements. In times of food scarcity, women feed all members of the home first, and then feed themselves if there is any left over. This puts women at risk of malnutrition and other health problems, which has ramifications for children and the entire household. When women fail to meet home tasks, on the other hand, they get into arguments with their spouses, straining intra-household relations. Such disagreements frequently result in divorce and, in the worst-case scenario, the destitution of pastoral women.

Understanding the aforementioned predicaments, Hailemariam & Roman Foundation’s (HRF) made a high-level working visit to the area and had a series of consultations with the leadership, community, and stakeholders of South Arri and Hamer woredas and the zone. Together with the concerned government bodies, HRF identified the core problems facing women and girls in South Omo communities and discussed measures to overcome them. Accordingly, baseline assessment on situations of women and girls in South Omo was conducted, report produced, and micro-plan prepared. Armed with the knowledge obtained from our fact-finding expedition and extending the alliances we’ve already formed; we quickly began a cooperative project aimed at the social transformation that contributes to the equitable social and economic situation of women and girls in South Omo.