Supporting Development of a National Policy and Strategy on GBV Prevention and Response in Ethiopia
UN Women Ethiopia in partnership with Ministry of Women and Social Affairs ( MoWSA ) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have been organizing workshops with different stakeholders on both the draft national policy and Violence Against Women and Children (VaWC)strategy. As part of this effort, UN Women in collaboration with MoWSA and MoJ organized a high-level capacity building workshop for the standing committees (including women and children/social affairs standing committee and legal and justice standing committee) and women caucus executive committee of the parliament which took place from 24-25 September 2022. The aim of the workshop was to advocate for the adoption and effective implementation of the policy/strategy and strengthen accountability on the prevention and response of VAWC and sensitize members of the parliament on the draft policy and national VAWC strategy, while strengthening accountability on the prevention and response of VAWC.
According to the latest Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS 2016), at least one out of every three women in Ethiopia has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, by an intimate partner, and nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of women have at some point in their lives experienced physical violence. 10 percent of the women have experienced sexual violence. The same study also shows high rates of under-reporting (66 percent) by women and girls who experienced violence.
In response to the need for prevention and provision of coordinated assistance to women and children’s survivors of violence, a National Coordinating Body (NCB) comprised of members from government ministries, UN agencies and relevant civil society organizations was formed under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The formation of this NCB with components of both prevention and response to violence against women and girls (VAWG) is instrumental to effectively prevent violence against women and girls and ensure provision of standard essential services across all sectors including justice, health care and social services.
Under the leadership of MoJ and the NCB, a national five-year strategy (2021/22-2026) on prevention and response to violence against women and children (VAWC) have been developed with the support of UN Women and UNICEF. The overall goal of the strategy is to enable women and children enjoy their rights without fear of violence, strengthen reporting mechanisms and support services to survivors of VAWC.
To address the multitude of challenges in preventing and responding to VAWG, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (MOWSA) in collaboration with UN Women and other stakeholders initiated and supported the development of a comprehensive national Policy on GBV prevention and response. The policy aims to protect vulnerable population, ensure the respect of their human and will serve as an overarching normative framework based on which various laws, strategies and guidelines could be derived from.
During her opening remarks on the first day of the workshop, Ms Kimya Jundi, Chair of Women’s caucus, House of People’s representatives noted that despite commendable actions being taken to address violence against women and girls in Ethiopia, there are still issues increasing the vulnerability of women and girls to violence and coordinated effort is needed to address them. She added that response to violence against women and girls when done in coordinated manner has a big role in building a society safe and protected from violence.
Ms Kimya also said that the strategy and policy will help in coordinating the work in effectively addressing VAWG done by all stakeholders individually into one, saving resources.
Presenting the National Strategy on Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) during the workshop, Ms Meiraf Tesfaeyesus, acting head of Women and Children’s Directorate at Ministry of Justice said “The overarching goal of the strategy is to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against women and children through comprehensive multisectoral and multistakeholder collaboration and action at all levels.”
She presented 11 foundational strategies, including; improving the legal and policy environment, strengthening social service workforce for VAWC prevention and response and protection of CCL., strengthening multi sectoral and multi stakeholder action and coordination and strengthening and utilizing evidence and data.
Ms Alemitu Omud, State Minister, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, opening the second day of the workshop, mentioned that despite positive developments and work, there are gaps in laws and regulations in addressing GBV that required development of a policy. “I believe the participants of this workshop, parliamentarians who are members of various standing committees, will provide inputs to enrich the draft”, she said.
UN Women Ethiopia will continue to work with Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs and other stakeholders on the adoption and implementation of the national GBV prevention and response policy, and the five-year national Violence against Women and children strategy.