Women Affairs

According to (CSA projection, 2012) the total population number of Ethiopia is 84,320,987. Of which women account almost half of the population of the country and they play a big role in any aspects of the society. The issue of gender equality and women empowerment is critical and it impacts on development. For any development activities the participation of women should be needed to be effective. So, improving of women health, increscent of accessibility and enrolment in education at all level, ensuring economic opportunities specially access and control of land, creating job opportunities, increasing their participation on leadership and decision making position and by decreasing their vulnerability to poverty we can insure their life of betterment and sustainable economic development.

Cognizing of this, remarkable efforts have been made by the government of Ethiopian to create an enabling environment for gender equality. The FDRE constitution and the national policy on Ethiopian women provide a base for the national initiatives towards gender equality. The international and regional conventions that have been ratified, protocols signed, agreements and commitments entered into an integral part of the 1995 FDRE constitution; among others Articles 25, 34, 35, 36 (which covers girls 0-18 years of age) and 89/7 of the constitution affirms equality in all spheres and protects the fundamental right of women. Accordingly Ethiopia is part to International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In addition to these, women issues also included in others legal, policy and strategy frameworks. 

Sustainable development and transformation is not possible without the full participation of both women and men. Development policies that incorporate gender as a factor reflect a growing understanding of the absolute necessary for women’s and men’s full and equal participation in the civil, cultural, economic, political and social life.

Now a day’s gender mainstreaming issues applicable in all sectors any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes in all areas and at all levels (global, national, institutional, community, household). It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality by transforming the mainstream (UNESCO, 1997 in GWA 2003).

The overall objective of the EFDR Rift Valley Lakes Basin Authority is to promote and monitor the implementation of integrated water resources management process in an equitable and participatory manner in the Rift Valley Lakes Basin.

As we know water is the most precious element to all living things in the world. In many households, women are the primary users and managers of water for activities including cooking, cleaning, subsistence agriculture, health and sanitation; men primarily use water resources for income-generating activities such as large scale farming and agriculture or livestock.

Climate change may put additional burdens to the double and triple burdened women. Mostly in the world, women and men access, manage, use and benefit from water differently, and because of gender discrimination and disparity, women and men’s relationship to water is unequal.

Data from the World’s Women 2010 report 8 shows that in sub-Saharan Africa 63% of women in rural areas are responsible for water collection compared to 11% of men; in urban areas 29% of women are responsible for water collection compared to 10% of men. Women rarely have equal access to water for productive use and are the first to be affected in times of water shortage.

In general, it is women who are responsible for collecting and storing the water for drinking/household needs, while men are responsible for irrigation. Often the norm is that irrigation water should only serve men’s businesses. Because of a lack of participation of women in water related decision making and planning, it is often men’s interests that are served in such planning. (Lambrou and Piana 2005; Women’s Statement at COP10/2004).

All over the developing world, women and girls bear the burden of fetching water for their families and spend significant amounts of time daily hauling water from distant sources. Women and children spend more than 4 hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases (https://www.waterforpeople.org/).

Climate change has a significant impact on securing household water, food, and fuel—activities that usually are the responsibility of women and girls. In times of drought and erratic rainfall, women and girls must walk farther and spend more of their time collecting water and fuel. Girls may have to drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks, continuing the cycle of poverty and inequity. A 2014 EU study found that women are consistently more concerned about climate change than men.

Water management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing, managing, and optimizing the different uses of water resources under defined water polices and regulations.

Recently IWRM approach has come up as the internationally and locally accepted management system to ensure sufficient water resources of adequate quality, not only for today but also for generations to come.

Climate change adaptation and sustainable development in the water sector depends on the adoption of IWRM. The four principles of IWRM are:

  1. Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource.
  2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach.
  3. Women play a central role.
  4. Water has an economic and a social value.

Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding (conservation) of water.

It is widely acknowledged that women play a key role in the collection and safeguarding of water for domestic use and, in many countries, for agricultural use. However, women are less instrumental than men in key areas such as management, problem analysis and the decision-making processes related to water resources.

Often the marginalized role of women in water resources management can be traced to social and cultural traditions, which also vary between societies.

A gender perspective in IWRM is necessary for a variety of reasons, as outlined in the sections below:

  1. Concern for effectiveness and efficiency in water sector programmes and projects.

A project is more likely to achieve what planners hope it will achieve if women and men (both rich and poor) are active participants and decision makers.

  1. Concern for environmental sustainability
  • Due to their distinctive engagements with the natural environment, women’s experience and knowledge are critical for environmental management (UNEP, 2004). Using a gender perspective and enabling the integration of women’s knowledge of the environment will increase the chances of environmental sustainability.
  1. Need for an accurate analysis of water resources use
  • Social and economic analyses are incomplete without an understanding of gender and social differences and inequalities. With a gender analysis, planners gain a more accurate picture of communities, natural resource uses, households and water users. Understanding the differences among and between women and men (who does what work, which makes which decisions, who uses water for what purpose, which controls which resources, who is responsible for different family obligations, etc.) is part of a good analysis and can contribute to more effective results.
  1. Concern for gender equality, equity and empowerment
  • Without specific attention to gender issues and initiatives, projects can reinforce inequalities between women and men and even increase gender disparities. Although many initiatives are thought to be ‘gender neutral’, this is rarely the case.
  • Powerful groups of society, usually male-dominated, can exploit resources more systematically and on a large scale and can also drive industrial transformation of the environment; therefore, their potential to create damage is higher.
  1. Realization of international commitments by governments and partners
  • Governments and development agencies have made commitments to support equality between women and men and to use a gender perspective in all programmes and projects, including those related to water and the environment.

In general, like other sectors the authority also incorporated gender issue at all level of its main agendas to insure the participation and benefiting of women.