On March 8, 2023, the world observed International Women’s Day (IWD), a day set aside to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women. The International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed annually to recognize the accomplishments of women, to increase awareness of gender inequality, to challenge it, and to encourage action in that direction.
The 2023 IWD’s theme was #EmbraceEquity. The hashtag emphasized that to achieve gender equality, we must recognize and correct inequities. It’s a call to action to uphold fairness and justice because we do not all begin from the same position. In countries like Ethiopia, Gender disparities such as unequal access to essential services, a lack of decision-making authority, economic dependence, and the exclusion of women from peace negotiations continue to persist. Women are mostly negatively impacted increasing their vulnerability to various natural and man-made shocks, exploitation, physical and psychological abuse. Often, the contribution of Women to engendering a resilient and sustainable communities, economically, peaceful and secure, sometimes overlooked.
Faith to Action Network member in Ethiopia, Ethiopia Interfaith Forum for Development Dialogue and Action (EIFDDA) is working to challenge harmful norms in a few conflict-prone areas of Ethiopia. EIFDDA seeks to support and implement gender transformative and equitable approaches that give people and communities the chance to question (harmful) gender norms, support women in communities occupy positions of social and political influence, and address power imbalances between men and women. EIFDDA also aims to increase awareness of women’s accomplishments and the obstacles they still face and is amplifying successes and lessons learned in this area.
In the first quarter, EIFDDA scheduled events to commemorate International Women’s Day, which was observed on March 8th. These activities were part of our increased efforts to promote gender equality and ensure women and girls are not left behind in many development fields. The events featured training workshops for capacity building, panel discussions with specialists in the relevant sectors, several presentations and dialogue-facilitating activities for women to identify issues affecting them in their communities. The training concentrated on FoRB, Women’s Rights, Human Rights, and Dialogue to encourage women’s active involvement.
The events participants came from five districts /Woredas Ethiopia and attracted women of faith leaders from all religious groups (Orthodox, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic as well as women from traditional belief system). Women leaders from non-religious organizations, such as the departments of peace and security and women and social affairs, were present and delivered opening and closing sessions.
EIFFDA has considered youth and women’s meaningful inclusion in all of its project areas. This is because women and youth are closely tied to religious institutions in Ethiopia and, they play a crucial role in establishing lasting peace and promoting greater interreligious and intergroup tolerance and cohesion.
The #IWD celebration included the national launch of the Women of Faith Network, which will conduct research and come up with a policy brief on gender, radicalization, and violent extremism (RVE).
Faith to Action Network and EIFDDA collaborate to implement the Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA) program, which aims for peaceful and just societies in which everyone has the right to religious and spiritual freedom. JISRA addresses harmful norms and narratives within religious communities, promotes religious cooperation, and demonstrates how different religious traditions can work together to create a better and fairer society. JISRA places a special emphasis on increasing the role of women and youth in defining the vision and solutions for advancing freedom of religion and believe (FoRB), as well as promoting youth and women’s participation in decision-making forums.