As the second most populous country in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies on the continent, Ethiopia is on track to bring millions out of poverty. This path requires an equity approach to ensure the most vulnerable populations receive the support required to participate in the country’s growth. Among these, girls and women face some of the hardest challenges, as there is a long history of gender inequality in Ethiopia, with poorer women and girls especially facing multiple disadvantages.

To facilitate Ethiopia’s commitment to supporting its women and girls, SPRI Global recently presented the findings of the latest study on trends in gender equality, women’s empowerment and its relationship to children’s wellbeing, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was a joy for our team to collaborate with the Ministry of Children, Women, and Youth Affairs, UNICEF Ethiopia, line ministries, and other stakeholders on this important research project.

SPRI Global researcher Erëblina Elezaj presenting to UNICEF and government officials

The overarching aim of the study was to set baselines for monitoring Ethiopia’s progress in achieving SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and its targets. The indicators and domains used in the analysis derive from the sustainable development agenda, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the UN Convention on Eliminating all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and other relevant international and national policy and legal documents. The selected indicators are age-specific and reflect the lifecycle needs of girls, boys, women and men and risks that they face, while simultaneously unmasking present inequalities in outcomes and their potential implications on equity.

The study also constructs the first official women’s empowerment measure in Ethiopia at the micro level, using Kabeer’s conceptual framework consisting of three domains of empowerment, resources, agency, and achievement, an extensive consultations process with stakeholders, and econometric analysis. The assessment of the relationship between women’s empowerment and children’s wellbeing outcomes aims to instigate discussions on gender-sensitive policy responses for improving children’s wellbeing. The study is also intended to inform policy interventions aimed at enhancing gender equality and equity in the short- and the long run.

The analyses were carried out using data from four Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey waves, 2000, 2005, 2011, and 2016, and also shed light into progress achieved in enhancing gender equality through related policies and strategies implemented in the country in the last 16 years.