UN Women focuses on Women and girls living in rural areas


A panel discussion with the theme “Time is now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives” was held by UN Women to commemorate International Women’s Day. The event had panelists from organizations like UN agencies, representatives of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and others, to discuss and contribute to the work on transforming the lives of rural and urban women in Ethiopia.
“We are here to celebrate and to hear from the empowered women that are working themselves to transform other women’s lives.  We have urban activists who struggle to emancipate other women and who are doing their best to change the next generation of women,” said Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, AU and UNECA.
“This year’s theme captures the women activists’ vibrant life whose passion and commitment have won women’s rights over the generations, and successfully brought change. We celebrate an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality, safety and justice, recognizing the tireless work of activists who have been central to this global push for gender equality,” she also added.
UN Women which is the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment facilitates engagement with regional inter-governmental bodies and the UN system. The UN Women’s program in Ethiopia empowers women to secure their human rights while supporting institutions that provide services.
The two hour long panel discussion that was held on Thursday had selected urban and rural advocates as panelists and present their achievements, approaches, challenges and opportunities in transforming women’s lives.
“The feminist movement must continue to increase the diversity and the number of people working on gender equality, bringing in individuals and groups-such as men and boys, young people and faith-based organizations-to support and shape the agenda, so young men and boys learn to value and respect women and girls and so men can change the way they behave,” Chiwara also said.
Chiwara highlighted the need to change the narrative from ‘Rural Women and Girls’ as it is not the women who are rural, but that it is the context and environment within which the women and girls derive their livelihoods and experience which is rural. In this context she advised the focus to be on interventions that change those contexts and environments for the benefit of the women and girls.
A representative of Australian Embassy Rebecca Yohannes stated that this year’s International Women’s Day celebration theme requires everyone to continue to work and close the gap between opportunities for urban and rural women. Everyone must be able to celebrate women by ensuring that activism is inclusive for all.
“Achievements of women are meant to be celebrated on this day. Do not get me wrong, women should be celebrated 365 days a year and not just one; but this gives us a special opportunity to empower women in all settings, rural and urban. International Women’s Day is a day that marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. It is a day to celebrate activists who are working hard to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential,” she said.