ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Women's development

We strive to improve the condition and position of Ethiopian women with the conviction that women deserve to have a dignified and fulfilling life. We believe that women are a strong force of change in the fight against poverty.

Women in Ethiopia make up 49.54% of the population of 74 million. The situation of Ethiopian women has progressed over the past decade on most fronts. Women’s representation in the political decision making has improved, as evidenced by the increase of women representatives in the national legislative house from 14% in 2000, to 21% in 2005 and 29% in 2010. 

A great majority of the discriminatory laws that have been in force for decades were revised and replaced with more progressive laws that respect, protect and fulfil the rights of women.

Negative norms and traditional practices that affect the wellbeing of women and girls have shown a declining trend.  In terms of social indicators, primary education is one area where the gender gap is closing, while secondary and tertiary education often leave a lot to be desired. 

In other areas such as health, participation in secondary and tertiary education, employment and access to and control over economic resources, progress has been slow.

We employ a twin-track approach to undertake women development initiatives.  Firstly, there is a standalone approach that focuses on issues affecting women, like violence against women. Secondly, there is the mainstreamed approach where women development purposes are embedded in the other thematic priorities of education, HIV/AIDs and Primary Health Care, and food security and emergency responses.

Combating Violence Against Women and Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs)

Women in Ofla DA

In all the communities where we operate, women and girls are subject to some form of violence and harmful traditional practices (HTPs). Some of the common forms of HTPs are child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and polygamy.

We’ve been working to empower women and girls to abandon or resist such practices as well as to get organized and play a vigilant role against HTPs.

These organized women groups  educate and sensitise community members, in addition to helping survivors of violence seek redress for their grievances.

Recognising the role traditional and religious leaders play in shaping the behaviour and attitude of people in communities, we engage extensively with such leaders.

Similarly, schools and formal institutions such as police, court, health institutions and others have been targeted with capacity building support and awareness raising

Economic Empowerment

As in most parts of the world, Ethiopian women’s access to economic opportunities is limited. With minimal access to formal employment, they are highly concentrated in small scale, self-initiated and administered businesses, commonly referred to as ‘the informal sector’.

With our objective of targeting the poorest of the poor, we widely engage in organising women into self help groups and providing them with technical and financial support to engage in income generating activities.

This initiative is mainly addressed under our food security theme. The women development theme focuses in generation and dissemination of knowledge and information as well as the replication of best practices.


We undertake our women development initiatives in partnership with government and non-government organisations working at local, regional (provincial) and national levels.

We’re also a member of different level networks and forums working on women’s issues. These partners and networks include the following:

  • Women in Self Employment (WISE)
  • Network of Ethiopian Women Associations (NEWA)
  • Bright Image for Generation Ethiopia (BIGA)
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