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Key findings
  • In Ethiopia, fewer women than men have secondary education (16% vs. 20%) and post-secondary education (9% vs. 16%). More women than men lack formal education (39% vs. 29%).
  • Women are also less likely than men to own certain key assets, including mobile phones (60% vs. 68%) and bank accounts (51% vs. 64%).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Ethiopians believe that women should have the same chance as men to get jobs, and eight in 10 (80%) endorse equal land ownership and inheritance rights. o Large majorities say that in fact, Ethiopian women enjoy equal rights when it comes to employment (73%) and land ownership (78%).
  • More than eight in 10 citizens (83%) say women should have an equal chance to be elected to political office. o But significant proportions also consider it likely that a woman who runs for office will be criticised, called names, or harassed by others in the community (46%) and will face problems with her family (44%).
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Ethiopians say their government is doing a "fairly good" or "very good" job of promoting equal rights and opportunities for women, and very few (16%) think it needs to increase its efforts in this area.

Ethiopia stated its commitment to gender equality in its 1993 National Policy on Women,  which aimed to establish frameworks within government entities and institutions to foster  equitable and gender-sensitive public policies (Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 1993). The  government reaffirmed its commitment in the 1995 Federal Constitution, which enshrines  women’s political, economic, and social rights (Federal Negarit Gazzeta, 1995). Civil society  activists have joined with government programmes and initiatives to pursue gender equality  and women’s empowerment (Mehary, 2023; Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations,  2021).  

But the country is far from achieving gender parity. According to the World Economic  Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index (2023), Ethiopia ranks 75th out of 146 counties in gender  equality, with relatively low scores – meaning high barriers – in economic and political  participation. Similarly, the Ethiopian Gender Development Index 2021 points to barriers that  prevent women from accessing health services and education and fully participating in  public life and economic opportunities (Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations, 2021). Political representation is still below parity, although Sahle-Work Zewde became the country’s  first female president in 2018 and the share of parliamentary seats held by women increased  from 28% in 2010 to 39% in 2015 and now stands at 41% (Network of Ethiopian Women’s  Associations, 2021; Demo Finland, 2023).  

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9  questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender equality in  controlling assets, hiring, land ownership, and political leadership. 

Survey findings show that a clear majority of Ethiopians endorse equal rights in employment,  land ownership, and political participation. While data indicate persistent gender gaps in  educational attainment and asset ownership, a majority of citizens approve of the  government’s performance in promoting gender equality and don’t think greater efforts are  needed. 

Mulu Teka

Mulu Teka is the national investigator for Ethiopia.