Opportunities and Challenges of Women’s Political Participation in Addis Abeba. The Case of Kirkos Kifle ketema, Woreda 02

Master's Thesis, 2015

79 Pages, Grade: Very Good








2. Introduction





Chapter Five: Conclusion and Recommendation




First of all, I would like to pass my great indebtedness to those individuals that were involved directly or indirectly in this work so that my study came to success. Then my acknowledge directly goes to my advisor Mossa Hussen, Assistance professor in Bahir Dar University in civics and ethical education department for the thoroughly constructive advice and guidance he had made ever since the outset of this research.

My deepest gratitude also goes to my two brother Temesgen Sisay Bahir Dar University school of Law and Ayalew Sisay Debre Markose University for their academic, moral and financial support and finally to all my instructors in gender and development studies staff members for their cumulative effort for the successful accomplishment of my education in Bahir Dar University.


AAWA Addis Abeba Women Association

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

CRC Child Right Convention

C SA Central Statistics Agency

CSOs Civil Societies Organizations

DAW Division for the Advancement of Women

ELWA Ethiopian Women Lawyer Association

EPRDF Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front

FDRE Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

ICCPR International Convention on Civil and Political Rights

IPU Inter Parliamentary Union

NEWA Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association

NGO Non-G governmental Organizations

PASDEP Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End poverty

REWA Revolutionary Ethiopian Women Association

TPLF Tigrean People Liberation Front

UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UN United Nations

UNIFM United Nation Development Fund for Female.

WAO Women Affair Office

WHO world Health Organization


This study explores the challenges and prospects of women’s political participation in Kirkose Kifle Ketema Woreda 02. The study was guided by the following objectives; the first was to assess women’s political participation in Kirkose Kifle Ketema Woreda 02 and how to empower women to participate in politics aimed at finding solutions towards political imbalance in Kirkose Kifle Ketema Woreda 02.

This study was conducted through Qualitative research methods with three parts FGD, document analysis and one part interview schedule for collecting data from the respondents. The study was utilized purposive sampling technique. In this Wereda there are 12000 residences from this 5539 are female but in terms of participation in politics they are only 350.Six focused group discussion was held each group contains five female generally 30 participant and 8 interviewee was held with the residence and heads of women children and youth office. Data collection was analyzed using themes and explanations while comparing and contrasting the findings with the literature review part of the study.

The researcher found that, women compared to their share in the community, did not get enough representation in Kirkose Kifle ketema Woreda 02. The study concludes that, women face serious challenges in their political participation in Kirkose Kifle Ketema Woreda 02 the researcher recommends that the government, civil society and women activists need to work towards sensitization and awareness creation among the community to realize the need of the Women to participate in politics and governance. The men need to realize the women’s need for political power and change the way they look at the women and the government should embark on activities which support women’s political initiatives. The government should also introduce gender mainstreaming and empowering to facilitate women’s membership in either houses of parliament and local councils.

The researcher recommends these areas to be further studied including: a study that could analyzes the contribution of civil society organizations in promotion of women political participation and human rights, a study that could assess the policy gaps concerning gender equity in governance and politics for women empowerment and other study could be conducted in the field concerning implication of culture on women’s political participation.



Background of the study

The right of women to participate in political life is guaranteed by several international conventions. But transforming an abstract right into a reality participation of women in politics requires hard work on the ground. Political parties are ways to participation in politics, as it is political parties that recruit and select candidates for elections and that determine a country’s policy agenda. However within political parties women tend to be overrepresented at the grassroots level or in supporting roles and underrepresented in positions of power. Without access to well-established networks of influence, with very limited resources, few role models and mentors, and sometimes even limited family and community support, it is understandable that women’s participation in political parties has remained well below that of men (John, 2004). Because of the influential nature of political parties on women’s political empowerment, civil society organizations (CSOs), international organizations and development assistance providers have heightened their focus on the role of political parties. Globally, women remain sidelined from the structures of governance that determine political priorities (Helen, 2011). Women have traditionally been excluded from the structures of state that determine political and legislative priorities (Ndlovu, 2013).

Now days, women only have 21 % representation in the world’s parliament that determine political and legislative priorities (Women in national Parliaments, 1st November 2014). In fact, this representation of women has increased by 3.8% as it was 17.2% seven years ago. Nordic countries have the highest share of women in single or lower houses of parliament, averaging 42%. Europe, Africa and Asia follow with around 19-20% of total seats (The Economist online, May 2012). In the world’s parliament the proportion of women ministers is lower, averaging 16 percent. The proportion of women heads of state and government is lower still and has declined in recent years, standing at less than 5 percent in 2011. This shows that, though Women are composed of half of the world’s population, still they are underrepresented in decision making forums.

Issues concerning women have taken the new dimension and received varied treatments by the United Nation and its specialized groups or agencies. The principle of equality of men and women was first recognized in 1945 in the United Nation Charter and subsequently in the Universal Declarations of Human Right (1948). At World conference on women in Beijing in 1995, world leaders emphasized that ‘’Women’s equal participation in decision making is not only demand for justice or democracy but can also seen as necessary condition for women’s interest to be taken into account. Without the participation of women at all levels of decision making, the goals of equality, development, peace cannot be achieved ‘’. The Beijing Plat Form action of the 1995 defined two strategic objectives and the first one is to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in all power structure and decision making. Secondly, to increase women’s capacity to participate in decision making and leadership (Anonyms, 2007). Available literature shows that women still constitute a disproportionately small percentage of those participating in public decision making (The Economist online, May 2012). Many global conferences, including the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995), the low participation of women in politics affects the progress in improving the legal and regulatory environment for promoting gender equality since few women are influencing the legislative process. Politically, women’ involvement in various political activities is very minimal as compared to men. As in the political aspect, so as in the economic sphere as a consequence, women often represent the bulk of informal sector labor supply.

Like many developing countries, women in Ethiopia faced a set of multiple crosscutting and interrelated problems. In Ethiopia for example the participation of women in Regional State Councils is very low. The percentage of female members in regional state council in Ethiopia are only 27.61 %(Adamu and Mekonnen, 2009). The Women comprise 49.9% of the Ethiopian population of 90 million. Among the total head of house hold 25.5% are female with 23% of them in rural and 39% of urban area (CSA, 2007).

Generally, despite their priceless vitality for the world in general and Ethiopia in particularly women has over the centuries been suffering from various social, economic and political problems including underrepresentation in political matters.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Like other countries, Ethiopian women are endowed with numerous rights under international, regional and domestic human right instruments. These include the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the FDRE constitution. Though these rights are properly addressed in all international, national and regional laws, still women don’t have meaningful participation in decision making bodies both at federal and regional level in Ethiopia (Mentewab, 2005). For example our constitution which is the supreme law of the land clearly provides women’s right of political participation through Art 38 (1) (a). However, it is not practically implemented because of different factors. These factors are cultural, religious educational, economic and other related factor. As it is properly indicated in different research findings, traditionally Ethiopian women have been under estimated, low status in the societies, lack of awareness and confidence to participate in the political life and also have their own contributions for low participation. In most parts of Ethiopia girls are kept largely within the confines of the household and family where they are thought to accept decisions that men make on their behalf (Menttewab, 2005).

According to some research findings, women spent most of their time in the house and other domestic service rather than involved in the political issues compared to men (Meaza, 2009).Women’s lack of experience and maturity to participate in politics not make equal with men in decision making. Weak political awareness and the role of male domination on the management of the state, its institution finds that the monopoly on senior posts is for men (Ahmed, 2010). But still there is a problem of full participation of women in their own affairs.

According to Meaza (2009),Ethiopia is partly to all major human right treaties including the most important women’s conventions , CEDAW which calls for equal participation of women in public decision, Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action(BDPA),which requires government to attain a 30% benchmark for women’s representation in all public decision making positions (Meaza,2009:42).Moreover, various literatures argue that as compared to prior decades , the participation of women in political participation throughout the world are somehow increasing. But, in spite of incremental progress toward women’s participation in public sphere it is generally recognized that women have largely remained outside of political participation. Despite some improvements there is still a long way to go for women to be empowered to the level of decision making at proportional rate with men at all level (Abebaw, 2006). Ethiopian women have a tendency to perceive politic as man’s world. A domain exclusively constituted by and for men. This prevalent masculine model of politics became obstacle on the participation of Ethiopian women who either distance themselves from it or leave it all forms of activity for men (Berouk, 2004). Therefore, this study set out the challenges that affect women’s political participation in Kirkos kifle Ketema Woreda 02 as well as its own prospects in the future and identity possible strategies that can be used to enhance women’ political participation.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The general objective of this study is to assess challenges and opportunities of women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema Woreda 02.

The specific objectives of this research is

- To assess the current levels of women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema Woreda 02
- To examine conditions that enhances women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema Woreda 02.
- To investigate the challenges of women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema Woreda 02

1.4 Research Questions

1. What are the factors that discourage women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema of Woreda 02?
2. What are the roles of Kirkos Kifle Ketema Women Association, children, Youth and Women’s Affairs and other stakeholders in addressing such problems?
3. What are the challenges and opportunities of women’s political participation in Kirkos Kifle Ketema of Woreda 02?
4. What are the measures that should be taken to tackle the challenges of women’s participation in political activities in Kirkos Kifle Ketema of Woreda 02?

1.5 Scope of the study

The study was undertaken at Kirkose Kifle Ketema Woreda 02. This Woreda was chosen for research because of the accessibility, time and economic factors. And also it is a Kebele where all women political organizations movements are actively operating and this facilitates getting the necessary information concerning the matter under investigation.

1.6 Significance of the study

This study will help for some practical purpose and serve as a source of information and knowledge about the difficulties concerning the proper enforcement of women’s political participation to policy maker and development agents to produce various development programs, action plan, directives and manuals to control and supervise the proper implementation of the legislations issued about the political participation of women. It also contributes the enhancement of women understanding and other concerned bodies awareness about the problem in the area and strategies of settling the problems.

Besides, it assists the researcher to conduct further studies in the realm. Finally, it will have a great advantage to reveal the existing problems with possible solution to women politician themselves, their associations’ leader and other relevant bodies.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

The researcher has the following problems and limitation while performing this research paper and has assumed that it can pose limitation to the expected findings. These include:

1. Extraneous variables which was beyond the researcher’s control such as respondents’ honesty, personal biases and uncontrolled setting of the study.
2, Failure of respondents to provide accurate information especially for the open ended questions,
3, Shortage of finance to accommodate larger sample size and increase its reliability,
4. Problem of knowledge gap of the researcher which has risen due to lack of experience,
5. Shortage of time, to conduct the study intensively the issues from various aspects socio cultural dimensions and came up with greater sound findings.

1.8 Definitions of Key Terms

Kebele: Neighborhood or the smallest administrative unit of Ethiopia similar to ward a neighborhood or localized and delimited group of people.

Wereda:(district) The third level administrative division of Ethiopia. They are composed of number of wards Kebele or neighborhood association which is the smallest unit of local government in Ethiopia.

Wereda Council: The highest authority in the Wereda in which its member are directly elected to represent each Kebele in the district.

Politics: refers the necessary involvement of power struggle of the state and influence and the way in which power is distributed among the male and female in the process of decisions making.

Political participation: refers the active involvement and engagement by individuals both women and men with political process that affect their lives. The act of active engagements includes voting, standing for office, joining of political party or to take part the political campaigns of the political parties and to exert influence in the decision making process through public debate, and dialogue with the representatives they elected or through their capacity to organize themselves; or exercise public power by holding public office at different levels of administrations- local, regional national and international.

The right to political participation: refers to citizen’s rights to seek to influence public affairs without any discrimination, to seek decisions collectively and to choose their own representatives organizations, to vote and be voted in elections, to exercise political powers such as legislative executive, judiciary and all other public administrative powers and to influence the formulation and implementation of policy at international, national, regional and local levels and have freedom of democratic action, free from interference.

Women’s political participation: refers to women’s ability to participate equally with men, at all stages, and in all aspects of political life and decision making process.

Decision making: refers the ability to stand a given position in two or more matters on the table.



2. Introduction

This chapter presents the summary of available related literature reviewed on the general concept of political participation, historical overview of women’s participation in politics; experience of some selected countries including Ethiopia, conceptual and theoretical frame work, argument for and against on women’s political participation.

2.1 Conceptual and theoretical framework

As recorded in history all over the world, women have been subjected to domination by men. Especially this is the result of persisting cultural stereotype, abuse of religion and traditional practice, patriarchal societal structures in which economic, political and social powers are dominated by men and the role of women have historically played as follower of men political leader. This form of discrimination is not simply an Ethiopia or a study area phenomenon but the global one. Women were unjustly discriminated against men in many ways. Men have been the major determinanants of political actions concerning with the preparation of power of the state.

According to Meaza (2009), Ethiopia is party to all major human right treaties including the most important women’s conventions, CEDAW which calls for equal participation of women in public decision making, Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action(BDPA),which requires governments to attain 30% benchmark for women’ representation in all public decision making positions(Meaza,2009:42 ). “Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth” (UNIFEM, 2011). Goal three of United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to promote gender equality and to empower women.

Moreover, various literatures argue that as compared to prior decades, the participations women in decision making throughout the world are somehow increasing. But, in spite of incremental progress toward women’s participation in public spheres, it is generally recognized that women have largely remained outside of political process .When compete with men for political power, they are obliged to do so based on the terms and conditions already established by men for the competion among themselves . Without clear involvement of women in the political process through holding of various office or position and make known their own ambition, it is difficult to insure an effective involvement of them in the political scene. An environment with the absence of women in politics will allow or facilitate the men political elite to compromise over the interest of women in the society (Morgan, 2011).

Women’s right of political participation have been already guaranteed under the FDRE constitution of article 8 and stated as: “(1) Every Ethiopian national has/have a right to vote and to be elected without any discrimination based on color, race, nation, nationality, sex (2). Every Ethiopian citizen who has attain on the age of eighteen years residing at the time of registration has the right and be elected.”

As we can infer from the provision of the FDRE constitution, nothing excludes the participation of women in politics. When it comes to the reality, there is extensive misapplication against the political right of women. Men are dominating most public office and women do not have as such the expected position compared to their number in the society.

To understand equal participation of women and men in political participation, the following four inter-related concepts could be discussed:

Political participation , which allows for political agendas to be developed by women ‘taking part in politics’ through a range of activities such as discussion and debate, lobbying and activism in formal and informal ways;

Political representation , which consists of the articulation and presentation of political democratic societies. A range of actors and agencies can speak for various interests and audiences, including political parties, members of parliament, social movements and groups, as well as specific state-based agencies promoting particular interests, such as national machineries for the advancement of women. Group representation can be based on a variety of dimensions; for example constituency interests, ascribed interests such as sex, ethnicity, religion, and ideological interests – conservative, liberal or socialist.

Political leadership , which cuts across both political participation and political representation,

by key individuals shaping political agendas, taking the lead in articulating these and participating in their translation into policy. The context in which these concepts are unfolding

Today also needs to be taken into account.

Political accountability , which is the requirement for representatives and representative organizations to be responsible for their decisions and mandates as defined by their positions. It also includes representatives and leaders listening to and, when appropriate, acting upon criticisms, requirements and demands of their publics, constituencies or the electorate.

Those women’s participation and representation in decision-making bodies involves their enhanced presence as well as their empowerment through such participation. Women’s political leadership and accountability are key cross-cutting issues.

On the one hand, women’s political leadership allows them to set agendas and, on the other hand, it is in such roles that they are made responsive to constituencies and publics. This accountability becomes the cornerstone for not only numerical enhancement of women’s presence but also their ability to transform outcomes, the content and the ways in which policy actors make public policy.

Thus, it is important to study these four concepts systematically at all levels of governance: National, Federal, Regional, Zonal and Woreda. In order to achieve women’s full participation and representation at all levels, the establishment of mechanisms to promote women’s presence in public office is of crucial importance. In addition, to fully achieve women’s representation in political life, there must be gender equality across a full range of decision-making levels

2.2 Argument for Women’s political Participation

Scholars agree that it is of utmost importance to have equal numbers of women and men in political office. We can consider the following arguments for this position:

A. The justice argument – women account for approximately half the population and therefore have the right to be represented as such.
B. The experience argument – women’s experiences are different from men’s and need to be represented in discussions that result in policy-making and implementation. These different experiences mean that women ‘do politics’ differently from men.
C. The interest argument – the interests of men and women are different and even conflicting and therefore women are needed in representative institutions to articulate the interests of women.
D. The critical mass argument – women are able to achieve solidarity of purpose to represent women’s interests when they achieve certain levels of representation.
E. The symbolic argument - women are attracted to political life if they have role models in the arena.
F. The democracy argument – the equal representation of women and men enhances democratization of governance in both transitional and consolidated democracies.

Equality in political performs a leverage function without which it is highly unlikely that a real integration of the equality dimension in government policy-making is feasible. In this respect, women's equal participation in decision making plays a pivotal role in the general process of the advancement of women. Women's equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for simple justice or democracy but can also be seen as a necessary condition for women's interests to be taken into account. “Women’s participation in democracy through politics is without doubt an important step towards social equality, economic development and national and international peace.” (Kumari & Kidwani, 1998:4) . Without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women's perspective at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved

2.3 Feminist Perspective in political participation of Women

Feminist thinking has a long history, with many differentiated perspectives. However, the common defining characteristic of feminism is the view that women’s subordination must be questioned and challenged (Abbott and Wallace, 1993:10). Feminism is a theory, a world view. However, it is not a unified one. Feminists do not agree on the ways in which we can explain women’s subordination or on how women can be emancipated.

A. Radical Feminism

For women’s structures focuses concern on patriarchy and it’s far reaching effects. This view values and celebrates the differences between men and women. It seeks to promote separate women’s structures within existing organization’s and women’s own social structures. (Payne, 2005:252). When women enter politics within this patriarchal context of modern democracies, they are unable to play a role to radically change the sexual politics rather they largely play political roles on male’s terms. According to radical feminist the fundamental assumption in liberal democracies needs to be changed in order to create genuine political space for women (Rai, 2000:2).

B. Liberal Feminism

Equality and justice seeks equality between men and women, particularly in workplaces and caring and family responsibilities. Liberal feminists point out how sex differences between women and men are translated by cultural assumptions into gender inequality and promote equal opportunities by legislation (Payne, 2005:252,

Generally, feminist theory, irrespective of the various strands, posits that: (a) existing relationship between male and female is structured in a manner that women are subordinated to men and this has to change; (b) the paternal status of society that is perceived as normal and in which women have been subordinated has to be challenged; (c) the challenge should be based on the notion that all human beings are equal and have the same potential.

2.4 Justification for political participation of women

The need for women in politics and decision making could be justified one through right based arguments and two efficiency based arguments. According to right based argument it is the principle of democracy that adult citizens from all walks of life should have equal access to participate in leadership and decision making. Besides, full participation in decision making is the human right of women. Hence, giving women in opportunity to participate in decision making is respecting their human right and exercising democracy and good governance in one country.

The second argument states that representatives of specific interest and perspectives should participate directly in decision making process to ensure that both the agenda or issue to be considered and the decisions subsequently made incorporate their views. Since women and men play different roles in society and therefore, have different needs, interests and priorities, it follows that women also can’t be adequately represented in decision making by men. Therefore, according to this argument, to efficiently address the interest of women, they need to be represented in proportion to their number in decision making (Berouk, 2004).

Empowerment of women economically and politically benefits more than just women for enabling women to fulfillment of their roles as full citizens in the public area builds a foundation for suitable democracy.

Women, undoubtedly is the mirror which reflects the health and happiness of any particular society. The true measurement of a modernized political society lies in the high political status and equal political opportunities guaranteed to its women. Mahatma Gandhi had opened that India could survive without raising the political status of its women. The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato was perhaps first who advocated for the proper utilization of women’s political potentially and to ensure their status with men in all walks of life (Mentwab, 2005).

As Shvedova (2007) argues, the exclusion of women from political participation limits the possibilities for entrenching the principles of democracy in a society, hindering economic development and discouraging the attainment of gender equality.

2.4.1 Human right justification

Women’s empowerment and their full participation in political life are the human right issue. All human being are a dignified creature so, women have a right to empower themselves. And women must get an equal access to commute in political arena like men. The liberal international is organized round table debates and training seminars for liberal women politicians from central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa to encourage the active involvement of women in leadership position in politics. The first event took place on 2-3 October 2004 in Bucharest, Romania and the second event took place on 4 November in Jan Jose, Cistercian.

The principle of the right to equality and the prohibition of discrimination, which are at the basis of women’s access to public and political life, are enshrined in the founding document of the UN, The United Nations Charter. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which forms the basis of the bill of rights of many national constitutions, also enshrines the entitlement of all persons to non-discrimination including on the basis of sex.

Two instruments coming out of the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 (ICESCR) provide more specific agreements on the right to equality between men and women in public and political life and the General Comments of their respective treaty-monitoring organs have actively promoted women’s participation in public and political life. This International Bill of Rights guarantees equal protection before the law to all and serves as the basis for international human rights law around the protection of the right to participation in public and political life.

The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the leading instrument to address women’s human rights, with most states having signed or ratified it and participating in the reporting process. By ratifying CEDAW, these countries States have an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, and in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women whether those actions are perpetrated by the State or by private person shave an obligation to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women by adopting measures to respect, protect, and fulfill all of the rights contained in CEDAW at the national level.

The definition of discrimination contained in Article 1 of CEDAW encompasses any difference in treatment made on the basis of sex, which intentionally or in practice, places women in a position of disadvantage, and impairs the full recognition of their rights in the public and private spheres. This prohibition of discrimination extends to domains that limit the full exercise of women’s right to participate in public and political life. Article 7 is particularly relevant to the rights of women in the field of political participation, including their right to be elected to public office, to fully participate in the public functions and service in their countries, and the right to vote.

This right should be read in combination with Article 8, which provides that States must ensure that women can have the opportunity to represent their governments at the international level, and to participate in the work of international organizations free from any form of discrimination.

2.4.2 Constitutional rights justification

Article 35(1) of the Ethiopia’s Constitution recognizes that women shall enjoy equal rights & protections as men. In order to secure fairness and equality throughout the country, Ethiopia has taken various steps and has recognized various International Conventions based on the Declaration of Human Rights. These Declarations include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on Elimination of All Forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDW) and various Labor Conventions.

However the basic problem of violence against women in Ethiopia is the failure of practical applicability of the international Conventions, which are ratified by the country, and constitution and penal laws and family laws, which recognize gender equality (Meaza, 2005).

2.4.3 Economic justification

Lack of economic resources is one of the obstacles to women’s political participation and electoral processes .It is clear that women face specific and diverse economic and financial challenge. As you can see relationship between economic resources and electoral processes reveal important difference in between women and men candidates. Women’s unequal access to economic resources restricts to manage their political activities ( Nagaad, 2007).

Both men and women rely on direct resource and indirect resources of their campaign. Direct resources can be characterized as a cash money that comes from private donors, political parties, state budgets, subsidies or candidate’s personal own resources. Indirect resources are usually made by individuals, political parties, association or clan-based constituencies that donate on behalf of a candidate. This money is more freely designated in to pay for the candidates campaign needs.

Lack of having financial resources critically affect women’s decision to run for the office. In Ethiopia, women tend to be reluctant to become political candidates for a variety of economic reasons. This including investing family resources, which they do not feel they individually own, asking for credit or risking their own or the family’s capital, paying for domestic/caring work they will not be able to do, leaving their jobs and reentering the labour market in cases where they do not get elected.

On the other hand women’s lack of capital is caused their exclusion from the leadership because they are neither head of communities, tribes (traditional clan leaders) nor kinship groups and social organizations (Adamu& Mekonnen, 2009). Moreover the women’s lack of financial supports is another constraints factor of women’s political participation. Women also find it hard to participate in political discussions and decisions due to the limited time available to them because of their dual roles in the reproductive sphere. With their primary roles as mothers and wives and competing domestic responsibilities and care worked, they are left with little time to participate in politics (Adamu and Mekonnen, 2009).

2.5 Impacts of Women’s Political Participation

Gender and politics scholars argue that women will most The concept of ‘critical mass’ has a central place in women’s political representation research, probably not have a major impact on legislative outcomes if they do not evolve from a few token individuals to a considerable minority. Only when this number increases will women be able to promote women-friendly policy change. Another necessary discussion while speaking of women’s participation in the political sphere is how they can dominate the male-dominated environment once they are elected in Parliament. The achievement of democracy presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society in which they work in equality and complementarily, drawing mutual enrichment from their differences .

Representing women is to make women’s viewpoints visible in political decision-making. Therefore, an evolution needs to take place in the minds of the dominant group rather than the mere implementation of policies which establish the marginalized group in political decision-making bodies. The actual influence women can make differs from country to country and depends on the political context, the number of female parliamentarians etc.

A first step should be to broaden the political agenda with women’s issues. This can be done in various ways such as: submitting legislation that is favorable for women and introducing women’s issues in parliamentary debates. Women’s perspective in these debates is important while making certain topics or standpoints politically acceptable. A strategy has been suggested in order to make a change and maximize women’s impact in parliament. The strategy consists of learning rules, using rules and eventually changing rules to pave the way for the next generation of women politicians. (Waylen, 2007).

2.6 Historical Overview of Women in Political Participation.

In most parts of the world, the set of practices that guided the exercise of political power often exclude women. Apparently politics had been male designed and dominated area to which women were simply expected to subscribe. In most countries women’s right to vote and to stand for election were recognized long often men’s were (Bentley et al., 1995).

The exclusion of women in political participation and decision making processes was one inherited by human history. Even when democracy had birth ancient Athens in 5th century BC, the exclusion of women from political participation and decision making was existed. The Athenians women had no a right to vote or to participate in the democratic process and even they had not considered as a citizens. The only Athenian men had a right to attend meetings of the assembly, a meeting of the citizen body which was called more than 40 times per year (Bentley et al., 1995). The absence of women in the involvement of the decisions of the assembly had deprived them to have a right to speak and to vote at the assembly. This also prevented from them to have a chance to directly determine what the law should be. The other European countries women had neither a right to political participation nor involve the decision making and public affairs before 20th century.

Participation of women in decision making has consistently been at the center of the global agenda since the adoption of Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the advancement of women in 1985.Around the world, a lack of gender balance in decision-making positions in government persists. Women continue to be underrepresented in national parliaments, where on average only 17 percent of seats is occupied by women. The share of women among ministers also averages 17 percent. The highest positions are even more elusive: only 7 of 150 elected Heads of State in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 Heads of Government. The situation is similar at the level of local government: female elected councilors are underrepresented in all regions of the world and female mayors even more so.

Ensuring women’s freedom to participate in politics, both as voters and as representatives, has been central to international, regional and national efforts aimed at more inclusive and democratic governance. These freedoms and rights are not limited to politics but extend to participation in public life, the private sector and civil society in general. . The Britain electoral system was male adult suffrage and did not provide the means for fair and equal representations. The right to vote and be voted was restricted to men.

Women had no a role in the political sphere of the country. This had result the rise of the suffragists (women campaigned to win the vote) (Bentley et al., 1995). ). Despite the efforts of the chartists, a mass movement of mainly working people who demanded universal suffrage in the late 1830s and 1840s, it was not until 1867 that the second reform Act was passed. Just after the end of the First World War Britain was fully recognized the women’s right to political participation and decision making process (Bentley et al., 1995). ).

After the establishment of the UN in 1946, there is an increasing recognition among international community of women's historic exclusion from structures of power. The UN has been made a global commitment to redress gender imbalance in politics. Thus, to enhance the political participation of women the UN has been adopted several instruments recognizing the women’s right to equally and participate in politics.

The challenges of political participation of women are same as those faced the rest of the African women as mention above. For example the Ethiopian traditional leadership was dominated by the male elders. As you go back to historical practices, you can see that women’s business was to care of her husband and children. In Ethiopia for example the participation of women in Regional State Councils is very low. The Percentage female members in Regional State Councils in Ethiopia are only 27.61% (Adamu & Mekonnen, 2009).

2.7 International and National Instruments Regarding Women’s Political Participation.

The balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making is at the heart of a functioning pluralist democracy. Several international human rights mechanisms have been established to support women’s participation in the public sphere. Equality between women and men became an obligation for all regimes that ratified these mechanisms (charters, conventions, resolutions, etc.). Moreover, it is a prior condition for the legitimacy of a democratic regime as well as its responsibility and obligation.

The founding document of the United Nations, the UN Charter, upholds the basis of women’s access to public and political life: the principle of the right to equality and the prohibition of discrimination. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948) also enshrines the entitlement of all persons to non-discrimination, including on the basis of sex.

The International Covenant on Economic Social and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are both instruments flowing out of the UDHR and provide more specific agreements on the right to equality between men and women in public and political life.

The provisions of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women in 1952 are restated in Article 7 of the document whereby women are guaranteed the rights to vote, to hold public office and to exercise public functions. Article 8 of the Convention elaborates the right for women to equally represent their countries at the international level. Several CEDAW General Recommendations are also very useful in interpreting women’s rights and the state’s obligations in this respect.

The CEDAW Committee clarified a set of state obligations in General Recommendation in order to assure women’s rights to political participation. This includes the adoption of general positive measures and temporary special measures to ensure that women have the right to participate fully in public policy formulation in senior level positions. CEDAW Article 4 of says that states should adopt temporary measures to accelerate the equal participation.

The Ethiopian government is signatory to most international instruments, conventions and declarations. It has adopted international instruments such as: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women /CEDAW (1979), Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women/DEVAW (1993), the International Conference on Population and Development ICPD (1994), the Beijing Platform for Action/BPA (1995) and Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment (2004). The gender mainstreaming approach was established as a key strategy to achieve gender equality objectives by the international community, following the Beijing Platform for Action.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) enshrined the special needs-based rights of women. It has the standing of International Human Rights Legislation for women calling for equality between women and men in all areas of life. It is a formal legal statement of goals and measures for national and international action on a wide range of issues related to women’s lives. As an International Bill of Rights for women, CEDAW defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up the agenda for national action to end such discriminations.

The International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994 was the first forum to acknowledge the fundamental role of women in development process and to clarify the concept of reproductive health. At the ICPD, the world reached a consensus between population growth and other areas of development culminating in a 20 year of action. It placed individual human beings at the very heart of the development process, and emphasized the need to empower women whose rights have so often been denied. The ICPD is fully aligned with and provided much of the ground work for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world's main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of states and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators. Gender equality and poverty alleviation have been important strategy within the United Nations Millennium Declaration (UN MD) since September 2000. Ethiopia as one of the seven priority countries in Africa for MDGs is committed and striving to meet the goals by the year 2015. In reality all the eight goals are of paramount importance in developing gender equality in all spheres. However, Goal Number 3 explicitly narrates the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment.


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Opportunities and Challenges of Women’s Political Participation in Addis Abeba. The Case of Kirkos Kifle ketema, Woreda 02
Bahir Dar University  (Colleges of Social Science)
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opportunities, challenges, women’s, political, participation, addis, abeba, case, kirkos, kifle, woreda
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Abera Beyene (Author), 2015, Opportunities and Challenges of Women’s Political Participation in Addis Abeba. The Case of Kirkos Kifle ketema, Woreda 02, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1035296


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