Jun 11, 2018

UNPO Submits Report for CEDAW Review of Ethiopia

On Monday 11 June 2018, UNPO submitted a report for the 72nd session of the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), during which Ethiopia will be under review. The report focuses on the Ogadeni and Oromo communities and highlights the way in which the women from these peoples face double discrimination, both due to their ethnicities and to their gender. UNPO expresses its deep concern about the continuing State-driven violence with which these women are faced.

Due to their ethnicities and gender, Ogadeni and Oromo women face a double-discrimination in Ethiopia. In addition to these discriminations, for most Ogadeni women the issue is three-fold as they are rural women as well, often times with limited access to basic services including justice. 

In addition to the widespread sexual violence and rape Ogadeni and Oromo women face due to internal conflicts, they also lack access to social security services, as well as loans and credits which would allow their financial emancipation. Access to education is also difficult, also due to the violent crackdown of the authorities on students and attacks on schools, mainly in Oromia, over the past years. Violence against women is still a widespread issue in the country as well, and for these women in particular whenever they are seen as having ties to organisations such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front or the Oromo Liberation Front. All of these issues will remain difficult to solve as long as these women will not be able to really play a part in civic life – both by having representatives at the national level but also simply being able to get involved and launch local initiatives via grassroots associations.

This report aims at examining these multiple forms of discrimination as well as the violence facing these women, and at providing Ethiopia with some recommendations for the future. The country, often quoted as an example of social and economic development in the African region, fails to provide its population with a safe environment that would “leave no one behind”, as stipulated by the Sustainable Development Goals. An immediate end needs to be put to State-organised violence against indigenous and minority women, and considerable improvements need to be made to foster their social inclusion and full participation in the life of the country.

The UNPO urges the Ethiopian government to consider:

1. recognising the double discrimination Somali, Oromo and other minority women face in a context of internal conflicts and social exclusion of their communities;

2. putting an immediate end to the use of sexual violence and rape as weapons of war, especially in the Ogaden region – a practice which not only violates the CEDAW but is also in contradiction with a number of other human rights obligations by which Ethiopia is bound;

3. remedying women’s, and especially rural women’s, lack of access to social security and allow them to get easier access to loans and credits;

4. working on a better inclusion of the country’s minority and indigenous women and girls in education, whether it be primary, secondary or higher;

5. putting an end to violent crackdowns on peaceful protests, which have already caused a great number of casualties in the recent years, in respect for the freedom of expression and association, as well as to put an end to reprisals toward protesters, sometimes including violent attacks on schools;

6. giving the right to minority and indigenous women to freely associate, including in the framework of human or women’s rights organisations, and that unrepresented women be given the space to participate in the country’s political life – which implies a shift to a democratic and politically-inclusive Ethiopia.

You can access the report here.

Photo courteso of Charles Roffey @Flickr.com.