Action for Social Development and Environmental Protection Organization (ASDEPO) is an Ethiopian indigenous, non-governmental and non-profit making humanitarian organization established in 2013/14.  ASDEPO is mandated to operate in all regional states of the country. ASDEPO aspires to see mothers and children in Ethiopia living in respectable circumstances as well as a secure and healthy environment.

ASDEPO Works to improve the lives of needy mothers, children, and youths from first to last, escalating their access to health and education services, supporting income generation, and improving the natural environment, using a holistic and participatory loom.

Imagine being unable to decide how your country is run or speak up about issues affecting your local community. This is the reality for many women around the world, who don’t have a say in the decisions that impact their lives.Currently, only 25% of parliamentarians across the globe are women and women lead fewer than 25 of the world’s 196 countries. When it comes to elections, many women face barriers that make it hard to stand for elections, to be voted for and to vote for the people leading their countries.

In Ethiopia as part of the governments and non-governmental organization effort, women account for 38.5 percent of members of the parliament in the fifth term election, up from 2% in 1995, and more women’s representation is expected in the sixth election that took place in 2021. To achieve 50% female participation in politics with genuine decision-making authority at all levels, a lot of work is required, and more practical measures should be made to boost women's representation in Ethiopian political processes. Women's political participation and decision-making power in their country's policy and strategy are critical for their social and economic progress.  Representation is not the end of political participation; rather, women should be empowered and should exercise their power in their leadership roles.

To increase women's participation in politics, social, economic, and cultural realms, the government should create an environment that ensures equal participation of both men and women at all levels in the government structure.   This can help women to have the right to participate in public affairs, both directly and through freely elected representatives, the right to vote and be elected to any level of government offices, and the right to join any political party, labor union, trade organization, employer, or professional association of their choice. As a result, women's political participation will be increased when their leadership roles are enhanced at different levels.

Why are women underrepresented?

There are many obstacles that stop women from being involved with decision making at all levels of society. Women who face violence, poverty and discrimination are more likely to be excluded from decision making.Barriers such as discriminatory laws, lack of education and greater caring responsibilities all restrict women from becoming leaders or voting in elections. The biased andinjustice socially constructed gender role and attitude make behind women from social, economic and political participation.  Women are underrepresented as voters and leaders in governments and communities around the world including Ethiopia. In Ethiopia as a patriarchal society there is unfair ender role and the participation of women is far behind   than men in all sector (social,economic,education, public life).thus, women have less access to education,information,resource that helped them for further strategic need including political participationand demandingrights.

Why do we need women leaders?

Women have a right to participate fully and equally in public and political life and bring their unique experience to public debates and decisions.Women’s public and political participation is more than a numbers game. For women to shape laws and practices they must have real influence over decisions.

To create an equal future,itneeds to transform existing systems of discrimination so that women can make decisions at every level of society including at the political level. working with women’s rights organizations, consider men as a partner for enhancing women political participation and multisectoral collaborations and efforts to challenge gender roles, stereotypes, attitudes and beliefs and to mobilize women and girls to influence decisions made by those in power me n are very crucial for empowering women for political participation particularly and for achieving the gender equality.

Recommendations forenhancing women politicalparticipation and leadership

Improving the Knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) of women and men in Ethiopia on the importance of women in political participationfor community andcounty development.

Creating spaces for women to speak out and claim their rights

Supporting women leaders to gain the confidence, skills and knowledge to represent other women

Improving the representation of women in local leadership as this is where many of the decisions affecting women’s lives are made

Holding decision makers to account and making sure they respond to women’s priorities and needs, including women with disabilities, from lower classes or castes, and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women

Working with communities to challenge and change attitudes towards women

ASDPO, with the financial support of the International Republican Institute (IRI), has worked to enhance women's political participation by raising awareness through public dialogue, radio/ television programs.

As ASDEPO, other like-minded organizations and other actors should take their part in enhancing the political participation of women for overall national development.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 26,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1117]

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