Negasso's Address to Women Conference

Enabling Environment Exists for Women Empowerment: Dr. Negasso

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 22 (WIC) President Dr. Negasso Gidada has reaffirmed the Ethiopian Government's continued commitment and dedication to promote the full participation of women in the economic, political and social development of the country.  In an opening address he made at the Six African Conference on Women held at ECA today, Dr. Negasso said the government has already taken various measures which have created an enabling environment to empower women to be active participants of the development process and to benefit from it.

The President said that the Ethiopian Constitution has not only guaranteed the equality of men and women but has also given special emphasis, in Article 35, to the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  Dr. Negasso also mentioned the National Policy on Women, which aims at institutionalizing the political, economic and social rights of women, as another example of the prevailing conducive environment.

"The adoption of Gender Sensitive Sector Policies in areas such as education, health and population is further demonstration of the Ethiopian government's resolve to fulfill its commitment on gender issues.

"This National Gender Policy Framework and the Constitution are meant to provide a broad guideline which government institutions and development partners can use to tackle women's problems in their general or specific activities," Dr. Negasso said.

Reiterating the special attention given by the Government to women, Dr. Negasso said, "In the five-year development strategic plan of the country, every effort is being made to empower women.  The plan is focused on rural areas where the bulk of our people live.  Our agricultural-led industrialization strategy for development integrates the Beijing Platform for Action Prioritizing Poverty eradication among the critical areas of concern."

Concerning the challenges ahead of the African peoples, President Dr. Negasso said that despite some encouraging developments, African peoples are faced with great challenges.  He said, "Like many African countries, we faced enormous responsibilities, including in the area of peace and stability.  Africa needs to overcome both the inter and the intra-state conflicts that continue to sap the energies of its peoples and destroy opportunities for development and for the advancement of the equality of women.  The condition for this is peace, thus the need for women to be at the vanguard of the struggle against all sources of conflict and discord within and between nations."

In a key-note address he made at the same conference, Mr. K.Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa identified three areas of activity which have not been given due importance in Africa.

He listed the three areas as moving women into positions of power and decision-making; creating the institutional mechanisms needed for the advancement of women; and involving women in conflict prevention and resolution.

Mr. Amoako reiterated that moving women into power and decision-making is fundamental to effecting all the other changes.  According to the Executive Secretary, there are few parliaments in Africa that have more then a token representation of women.