The workshop was opened by Atsango Chesoni, the consultant responsible for the women and land project under the advocacy programme of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), based in Nairobi, Kenya. She introduced FEMNET as an regional organisation formed in 1988 after the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China. FEMNET was the African focal point during the Dakar and Beijing processes and is mandated to coordinate activities of African women’s organisations at the regional and international level with respect to follow up on the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action. FEMNET aims to network organisations concerned with status of women in Africa so as to advocate for policies in all sectors that support women�s human rights.
Chesoni explained that this workshop is one of the activities under FEMNET�s advocacy programme’s women and land project. The project aims to communicate research done in five African countries (Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda) on culture, religion and human rights as they impact upon African women’s access to and control over land. Ethiopia was chosen to pilot advocacy activities around the research findings.
Melakou Tegegn, the Executive Director of the Panos Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, then gave a brief background to the Panos Institute. This organisation’s headquarters are in London, the United Kingdom. Its objectives are to communicate and disseminate development information, for example, around the environment, health and pastoralist issues in Ethiopia. It also focused on women�s human rights and has gone into partnership with the Ethiopian Media Women’s Association (EMWA) to host a monthly Gender Forum, bringing together interested individuals and organisations to discuss and reflect on gender issues.
FEMNET and the Panos Institute are collaborating on this project on Ethiopian women�s access to and control over land in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, customary law governs land ownership and women’s rights to own land are not upheld. Current statutory law does not recognise the land rights of both women and men. However, the situation is worse for women. There has to be affirmative action with respect to land distribution to rectify this situation.
Dr Konjit Fekade, a gender consultant, then began the session with an exercise to introduce the participants. Each participant was given a piece of paper, asked to pair up and to sketch an image of their partners as well as write down their partners’ names, the organisations they work for, their job titles and interests. They then had to introduce their partners to the rest of the room. Participants were drawn from different parts of Ethiopia and included accountants, environmentalists, gender coordinators and officers, heads of women’s organisations, journalists and editors.
Participants then proposed and agreed on the following ground rules to ensure the workshop remained focused and achieved its objectives:
- To be punctual;
- To participate and share of ideas;
- To make brief points;
- To address issues rather than personalities; and
- To contribute to energisers.
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WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
Meaza Ashenafi, Executive Director, Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA)
Ashenafi began by noting the importance of the workshop to Ethiopian women. She then asked whether participants understood what human rights were. She asked why it was necessary to know what human rights were and the participants noted the following:
- Knowing our human rights help us demand for and exercise our human rights;
- Knowing what rights are available help us know which rights are neglected;
- Having knowledge enables a differentiation between what is available and what is not and, as a result, we can for protection of unavailable rights from the government;
- Accessing knowledge is a human right and, as stated in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, every citizen is entitled to protection;
- Individuals who know about their rights can decide on how to protect against their infringement;
- Individual’s rights should not be violated;
- Knowledge about the dignity of human beings, human rights principles and the history of the development of human rights and their implementation is important.
Human rights education is therefore necessary for every human being, but more so for those individuals and groups who are vulnerable to human rights abuses and/or violations. To understand human rights better, we have to relate our lives to them. This is a continuous process of changing our attitudes and thinking about human rights issues. Everyone needs to change their attitudes to be exercise our own human rights and to ensure others are given their human rights. Institutions with responsibility for human rights protection include the police, the judiciary and civil society (including CBOs, NGOs, disabled, minority and women’s organisations and labour).
Human rights are the rights available to human beings by virtue of their being human. They are natural rights which a human being acquires simply through birth. Being human is about the use of language to communicate intelligence. Human traits can be developed or diminished. To develop these traits, education, health and so on are necessary. Human rights ensure the development of human traits and are based on the underlying notion that all individuals are free and equal.
Human rights principles
- Inalienability: human rights are inalienable and cannot be separated from human beings;
- Universality: human rights are universal and are available to all individuals and peoples without discrimination on the basis of gender, political affiliation, race, religion and so on;
- Indivisibility: human rights are indivisible and all rights are dependent on other rights. There are no hierarchies of human rights. And human rights cannot be applied selectively (this does not mean that all states have accepted and implemented all rights contained in the Universal Declaration and the international human rights conventions).
Human rights categories
- Civil and political rights, which include the rights to:
- Life, freedom and equality;
- Citizenship and property;
- Expression, organisation and voting;
- Protection from inhuman treatment;
- Equality before the law and a competent judiciary.
- Economic, social and cultural rights, which include the rights to:
- Employment, leisure, leave, labour organising and social security;
- Good standards of living.
Human rights in Ethiopia
Human rights in Ethiopia are derived from international and regional human rights declarations and treaties and respect human rights principles. The Ethiopian law of 1930 (in the Ethiopian calendar) abolished slavery. The Ethiopian Constitution of 1948 gave recognition to human rights. The Transitional Charter of 1991 incorporated the Universal Declaration of 1948. And the present Constitution of 1995 also incorporates human rights. It notes that:
- Human rights are part of Ethiopia’s Constitution;
- The Constitution shall follow international human rights practice; and
- All government employees are to protect human rights.
Human rights conventions pertinent to women have been elaborated at the international level since 1950. Ethiopia has ratified most of them, including:
- The Convention on the Elimination of Slavery and the Slave Trade (1954);
- The Declaration on Women’s Political Rights;
- The Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
- The Convention on the Elimination of Trafficking in Women and Employing Others for Prostitution (1999); and
- The International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Convention on Equal Opportunities in Employment.
There are also more international declarations and conventions relating to women, namely
- The Declaration to Eliminate all forms of Violence Against Women (1993);
- The ICPD (1994) [�IN FULL�];
- The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995); and
- The VPPA (1999) [�IN FULL�].
International conventions are legally binding standards. International declarations are moral standards that states agree to abide by. Both are valuable in the struggle for human rights.
Most states have ratified a number of international human rights agreements. But, monitoring implementation has been a problem. Most of these agreements remain on paper and have not been implemented. No state implements all human rights. To ensure implementation, political will must exist. Democracy must also exist, allowing for civic organisation and participation, even at the local level.
In addition, the UN High Commission for Human Rights monitors the progress of states that have ratified human rights agreements. Such states are expected to report to the Commission periodically. This monitoring mechanism is not too effective as the UN lacks enforcement mechanisms. However, the monitoring mechanism is still useful as it affords opportunities to civil society organisations to counter the reports of the states reporting (this is known as shadow reporting).
An important aspect of human rights is implementation. Ethiopia lacks implementation. In most other states, implementation of civil and political right (requiring non-interference by government in citizens’ rights to voice their opinion and to organise) occurs. In a few states, implementation of economic, social and cultural rights (requiring the government’s provision of services such as education, health and so on) also occurs. And in still fewer states, implementation of the rights to development and peace also occurs (underdeveloped countries tend to focus on the right to development while overdeveloped countries tend to focus on the right to a health environment).
Domestication of international agreements at the national level is important for implementation. For example, Kenya ratified CEDAW. And, under Article 2 of the Kenyan Constitution, the right to equality on the basis of sex is provided for. But Kenyan women still lack equal rights. For example, Kenyan women cannot pass on their citizenship to their children. So Kenyan women have been lobbying for substantive equality during the constitutional reform process. So far, one constitutional subsection has been changed and Kenyan women have been incorporated in the Constitutional Review Committee. This kind of process of change takes a long time. But CEDAW has helped Kenyan women as they have used it in their lobbying and to provide comparative analysis with other African states.
Another example of how international agreements can be used is provided by Ethiopia. Ethiopia was the only African state that was not colonised. It was therefore able to bring cases to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). For example, it tried to bring apartheid South Africa to the ICJ although it did not succeed.
The view was expressed that the UN condemns human rights violations when it wants to punish states in conflict with a superpower. In addition, the assertion of the universality of human rights has sometimes been used to justify intervention in the internal affairs of states. Human rights are thus sometimes used for political gain. Rather than depend on the UN for enforcement, citizens should struggle with their respective governments for the implementation of human rights. Civil society should take responsibility and avoid enabling such double standards.
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WHAT ARE WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS
Participants were asked whether they considered women’s rights to be human rights. They were then informed that women’s rights were noted as human rights in the Vienna Declaration and Programme for Action (1993). For women are human beings and whatever rights they have are therefore also human rights.
It was necessary to distinguish women�s rights from human rights because women have historically been treated differently than men. Equality rights generally note that discrimination on the basis of protected grounds should not hinder the enjoyment of human rights by specific vulnerable groups (children, women, people with disabilities and so on).
The women’s human rights have gained recognition at the international level gradually:
- The Universal Declaration (1945) and ensuring international human rights conventions explicitly provide that sex should not be a basis for discrimination;
- The Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1954) gives special attention to women’s civil and political rights;
- The period 1975-1985 was declared the Women�s Decade. Progress was made and UN documents from 1979 consistently refer to discrimination against women;
- The Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action (1993) sufficiently addressed the issue of women’s human rights;
- The Declaration to Eliminate all forms of Violence Against Women recognised that violence against women is a human rights issue and, as such, it is the responsibility of states to address it.
CEDAW or the Women’s Convention
The CEDAW Committee of the UN monitors implementation of CEDAW or the Women’s Convention. Articles 1-4 provide for:
- A definition of discrimination against women;
- Policies and laws to eliminate discrimination against women;
- The right to undertake actions that guaranteeing women’s human rights (asserting that, for example, affirmative action will not be deemed discriminatory given the historical discrimination against women);
- Affirmative action; and
- Addressing cultural and socially based discrimination against women.
Articles 5-9 provide for the responsibilities of states in terms of policy and legal measures and incentives to combat discrimination against women.
Articles 6-15 provide for women’s social rights, including trafficking of women, equal access to education, equal access to job opportunities and employment, equal access to health, equality in family law and equality in resourcing and social security schemes. The UN monitors implementation of this.
Women’s human rights in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Constitution has recognised women�s human rights and the need to impose upon government responsibility for ending discrimination against women. However, statutory law has not yet been substantively amended to bring it in line with the Constitution. There is movement to amend discriminatory laws. But, implementation of even amended laws remains a problem. For example, the introduction of the family court has not yet been effective in terms of granting non-discriminatory interpretations.
The participants then brainstormed on a list of important women’s human rights for Ethiopia as follows:
- The right to life, the protection of life and protection from violence against women;
- The right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex;
- The right to equality before law;
- The right to economic freedom;
- The right to access to health care;
- The right to access to education;
- The right to freedom of association.
All the above are important. The diversity of the priorities mentioned indicates the interdependency of human rights.
Human rights violations are usually defended using culture or religion, which creates conflict. The major hindrance to the protection of women’s human rights stems from culture and tradition in Ethiopia. For example, in Gambela region, elderly people carry out female genital mutilation (FGM). They are respected. Holding them as criminals is not helpful and so issuing a law against FGM is not a solution. Laws become ineffective because their implementation is not possible. The majority still believes in FGM. We should focus on the practitioners. They are few and changing their attitudes will be therefore easier. If the practitioners know that FGM is a crime, they will refuse to perform it. This would contribute to the decline of and eventual elimination of FGM.
In addition, polygamy is accepted and women have no recourse. A woman went to court to complain about her husband taking a second wife and the judge responded: �So what? I have three wives myself.’ We have to sensitise all community members. If community supports cultural and traditional practices that are harmful to women, there is nobody to complain to about such practices. Before we take cases to court, people concerned and their families and communities must be aware that they are committing crimes. Asking the communities concerned for advice and ensuring their participation in the amendments to policies and laws is crucial.
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EXPERIENCE SHARING BY THE ETHIOPIAN WOMEN LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION (EWLA)
Case one: abduction
A girl was abducted. The culprit was arrested and locked up. After a few days, he was released on a bond. He then abducted her again, taking her to a different area. She stayed with him until the opportunity to escape presented itself. The EWLA representative from Gambela region felt that law enforcement only worked half-heartedly.
Case two: early marriage
A sixteen year-old girl sought protection from the EWLA. The girl was given shelter, but the police forcibly took her home to be married off. The EWLA sought support from all relevant government officials who ordered that the marriage be stopped. The parents were jailed. But, in the meantime, other family members enforced the marriage.
Case three: exchange of daughters as wives
In Oromia region, two fathers exchanged their daughters and took them as wives. In one case, a young girl was given to an 80 year-old man. Her father took the old man�s daughter. The first girl ran back to her home. Her father sent her back to the old man. The pattern of running away and being sent back continued. In the end, the girl killed her father.
Case four: making the first wife the wife of the family
The practice is that all the male relatives of the bridegroom have sex with the bride on the first day of the wedding. If the bride does not conceive within the wedding period, the practice continues until she becomes pregnant.
Case five: wives being expected to offer sexual services to the family
In a part of Ethiopia where Islam is practised, a woman was expected to give sexual services to her brother-in-law when he stayed overnight as well as to her husband�s friends.
Case six: wife inheritance
Another example from Gambela region involved the exchange of women among male members of a family. A man inherited the wives of his late brother. When he also died, his stepsons then inherited the wives.
We must be careful when trying to protect women�s human rights not to violate other human rights. For example, the suggestion to forbid the right for bail on a bond would violate a human right. The Ethiopian government has put in place a law forbidding bonds to be granted to citizens accused of taking bribes.
EWLA also has to be careful not to be seen as acting alone. They should cultivate supporters in different communities so as to work closely with the communities concerned.
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WHAT IS GENDER
Dr Konjit Fekade, gender consultant
Dr Fekade began the session with an energiser. Participants contributed adjectives to describe both men and women. They then noted that most of those adjectives were actually stereotypes. They felt that the social environment has emphasised stereotyping by encouraging men to be competitive, strong and breadwinners and women to perform housework. Stereotyping is not about women being male victims. Stereotypes are inherited from our various cultures as norms and values.
These norms and values influence both men and women. For example, the head of the family is the man, who is expected to support the family. Therefore, men are expected to go out and look for work while women are left at home to perform housework. However, there is no reason why women should not go out and look for work while men stay at home to take care of the family. Educating communities to question these norms and values is important.
If women become the family breadwinners, it is feared that women would also become the family decision-makers. This role reversal is therefore not encouraged. But gender analysis stresses that men and women should collaborate at all levels and share decision-making at all levels.
Sex and gender
Sex refers to the biological differences between men and women. These differences are generally permanent. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles and responsibilities of women and men. These roles and responsibilities are influenced by expectations and perceptions created by class, culture, custom, economic status, the environment, ethnicity, law, politics, religions and social factors as well as individual or institutional bias. Gender attitudes and behaviours are learned and can be changed.
Situations in which we see gender differences
- Economic: differences in women�s and men�s access to credit and loans, employment and control of financial and other productive resources (such as land);
- Educational: differences in educational expectations and opportunities of girls and boys, with family resources directed to boys’ rather than to girls’ education and girls being streamed into less challenging academic tracks;
- Political: differences in the ways in which women and men assume and share authority and power, with women being more involved at the local level in activities linked to their domestic roles;
- Social: different perceptions of women and men�s social roles with men being seen as the heads of households and the chief breadwinners and women being seen as caregivers and nurturers.
Gender is not constructed by men alone, but by society as a whole (including both men and women). However, since gender relations favour men, men tend to support the status quo. Gender is the outcome of socialisation of children by parents and communities. Folklore and proverbs are used to ensure that gender roles attributed to women are viewed as inferior to those attributed to men. Roles that are given to women are assumed to be less important, thus resulting in women’s lower social status. Changing socialisation processes will help bring about change. Currently, any deviation from socially accepted gender roles results in degrading name-calling.
Gender roles are also based on power relations. Gender-based divisions of labour differ from culture to culture and even from place to place within the same culture. However, women�s roles are consistently subordinate and power relations between men and women unequal in favour of men. Even though development has changed some gender-based roles, power relations remain essentially the same, with the only change being in the level and intensity of power inequalities.
Women in some parts of Ethiopia are required to take livestock with her to her marital home. Although this is property given to her by her parents, once in her marital home, her husband takes control over the property she has brought. Similarly, many working women give their incomes over to their husbands. This indicates that economic empowerment alone does not necessarily change power relations between men and women. Attitudinal changes are required for meaningful changes in gender relations.
Participants were divided into three groups and given the task of identifying gender roles and relationships. They were asked to focus on three levels, namely the home, the community and within organisations. The exercise aimed to examine where decision-making power lies at all three levels. Following are the results:
There is a need to change the way in which language reflects these gender imbalances, for example, by using “he” to refer to a person. In one organisation, for example, if the word “Chairman” is used, a correction is made and conscious efforts are made to change sexist language. EWLA also has done this in its Constitution. Sometimes, the efforts are cumbersome, so documents have preambles stating that the contents refer to both women and men.
We have to examine the gender relations in our society. There is a disparity in power between men and women, with women generally having less power than men. We need police and law enforcement that ensures parity. Until we create parity between men and women, we cannot talk of gender equality and justice.
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WHAT IS GENDER MAINSTREAMING
Dr Konjit Fekade, gender consultant
Women in development (WID) and gender and development (GAD)
|Women in development (WID)||Gender and development (GAD)|
|The approach||• seeks to integrate women into the development process||• seeks to empower women and transform relations between women and men;|
|The focus||• women;||• relations between women and men;|
|The problem||• the exclusion of women from the development process;||• unequal power relations between women and men, preventing women’s full participation in and benefiting from development;|
|The goal||• more efficient and effective development;||• women and men sharing decision-making and power;• equitable, sustainable development.|
|The strategies||• implement women�s components and projects;• improve women�s ability to manage their households;• increase women�s productivity and income;||• identify and address short-term needs determined by women and men to improve their conditions;• identify and address women and men�s longer-term interests.|
Evolution of approaches to women’s development
|Project goal and time of introduction||Conception of the problem||Conception of the solution||Potential development interventions|
|Welfare (1950)||• Women�s poverty;• Women�s special needs;• Women as a vulnerable group;||• Provide support services of nutrition, health, childcare;||• Feeding programmes;• Health and maternity clinics;• Immunisation campaigns;|
|Economic self-reliance (1960)||• Women as underemployed, unproductive, dependent, lacking in production skills;||• Promote independence and self-reliance;• Provide productive skills;• Encourage enterprise;||• Women�s savings, investment and production groups;• Income generating projects for women;|
|Efficiency (1970)||• Women as previously overlooked resources in development;• Women as underdeveloped human capital, in need of skills and improved access to resources;||• Recognise gender-based divisions of labour;• Identify women�s actual productive roles;• Improve women�s access to skills training, technology, and resources;||• Increase women�s access to credit and marketing facilities as well as to technology.|
|Equality (1985)||• Inequality;• Discrimination against women in schooling, credit, access to land;||• Implement equal opportunities for women in education, access to the factors of production, benefits from production;||• Adopt and enforce equal opportunity policies and laws;• Affirmative action to promote equal opportunity, equal participation;|
|Empowerment (1985)||• Unequal gender power relations;• Male-dominated society;• Political and social resistance (both male and female).||• Use strategies of conscientisation, mobilisation for collective action;• Expand women�s participation in the development process to achieve gender equality in control over productive resources.||• Local level projects that recognise women�s roles;• Projects concerned with advocacy, democratisation, and political action|
Definitions of gender mainstreaming
Some development organisations interpret gender mainstreaming as meaning that the separate needs and interests of women and men should not be mentioned. Others refer to working at the project level with both women and men as gender mainstreaming. And many development organisations have interpreted gender mainstreaming as meaning that they do not need to maintain separate gender departments or units as individual departments or units have to address gender.
But gender mainstreaming is (and has to be) based on a new vision of gender relations. Mainstreaming requires working to improve the specific situation of women in tandem with that of men. And thus mainstreaming entails a critical review of underlying assumptions about development, its institutions and organisations and the process of allocating of opportunities, resources and benefits.
Mainstreaming thus implies:
- Working with women and men rather than separately with women;
- Including gender in all processes, rather than focusing on women�s issues in a separate process;
- Working within existing structures rather than setting up separate structures.
The arguments in support of gender mainstreaming are that:
- Prevously, only small resources were allocated to women-specific projects, with the lion’s share being expended in gender-blind and male-biased projects;
- Women�s subordination does not just affect women as it is structural and impacts on society as a whole.
|Levels of Empowerment||Description|
|Control||• Women and men have equal control over factors of production and distribution of benefits, without dominance or subordination;|
|Participation||• Women have equal participation in decision-making about all policies, programmes and projects;|
|Conscientisation||• Women believe that gender roles can be changed and gender equality is possible;|
|Access||• Women gain access to productive skills and resources such as training, credit, land, marketing facilities, public services and benefits on an equal basis with men. Reforms of policies and laws may be prerequisites for such access;|
|Welfare||• Women�s material needs, such as food, medical care and income are met.|
The most important criteria for gender mainstreaming are:
- An organisational commitment at the highest decision-making level to empower women;
- The collection of gender desegregated data to give a clear picture of the situation of women in relation to men (for example, what is the number of girls who have dropped out of school as compared to boys);
- The allocation of resources.
Indicators need to be set so as to gauge whether gender mainstreaming has been successful at both the managerial level and the programme and project levels.