Gendered Roles in Parenting and Family Support in Ethiopia


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Presentation by Emebet Mulugeta (Ph.D.), Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and Director at Nia Center for Children and Family Development, during the "Expert Consultation on Family and Parenting Support," Florence, Italy 26-27 May 2014.

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  • 4. 1. General Ethiopian Context
    Population: As the case is in many other developing nations of the world including the Sub Saharan Africa, Ethiopia is a population of young persons with high rate of population growth (2.92 percent per annum). According to CSA (1998), the projected population estimate for 2001 was 63,494,702. The total population of those less than 25 years was 64.36% and young persons between ages 10-24 years constituted 32 % of the population. Obviously, this large population is a potential resource for nation building but it at the same time requires the country to invest on it. Given this population size and the country’s economic situation, Ethiopia’s effort for empowering the population that is going to take care of it tomorrow should be effectively cost-effective. It should be able to address the needs of multitudes with minimum possible cost. Perhaps, life skills training is one such important option. Moreover, it also entails the need to offer even life skills training in a rather cost-effective manner.
    Ethiopia’s high rate of population growth has for us to indicate that family planning, and gender issues are important subject matters to be addressed in such training. This is because high rate of population growth is suggestive of women’s longer reproductive life span which in turn implies that this group is still tied up to the traditional maternity mandate and homemaking roles; still excluded from education, labor force. Empowering girls with basic life skills, such training needs, therefore, can become weaponry deconstructing patriarchy.
    Culture: Ethiopia is a country of different nations and nationalities. There are in Ethiopia different (about 70 to 80) ethnic groups fulfilling the criteria of ethnicity; thus requiring the young persons to develop skills for living effectively with persons of other ethnic background. Moreover, evidences suggest that the Ethiopian society is basically collectivist-oriented, with interdependent life style, and authoritarian culture:
    As in other collectivist societies, group interests preside more than individual ones to an extent that the word right is not even known in the rural areas until perhaps very recently. This would require young people to develop basic skills for an interdependent life; a life skill that enables them to effectively manage life with and beyond the self
    Communities have quite different age, sex, religion... based social groupings, associations, and institutions (like Idir, Mahiber, Senbete etc) basically structured by and assuming ascribed roles, governed by informal rules, norms, beliefs, and expectations all shaped by the unwritten curriculum that seems to uphold a sense of “we-ness”. This type of group orientation may be extended in the process of life skills training
    Mediation and arbitration by a third party (elders, relatives, and friends) and accommodation are commonly employed to resolve conflicts and ensure the survival of families in the face of divorce and separation.
    Family households are composed of extended family system and large family size
    Large family is highly valued in Ethiopia possibly because there are labor divisions or age-graded responsibilities among family members and every member is expected to contribute to the household implying, then, that, as in other African cultures, interdependence, collective survival, and the value of cooperation seem to pervade cultures in Ethiopia. Some local investigations specifically indicate that dominant are among the Ethiopian cultures are such values, among others, as sharing resources, helping one another
    Religion: The Ethiopian society is largely religious in the sense that about 99 % subscribe to religious denomination of one kind or another (CSA, 1994). There are different religious institutions and trained person in religion. This has an important implication for life skills training in terms of getting it done cost-effectively. Whether it is to be kept secular or otherwise, life skills trainings have a lot to benefit from such institutions in terms of, for example, using their spaces. In fact, using the trained personnel in the different religious institutions can also have two benefits. First, it would help filling the gap of trained human power for training. Second, religious leaders in the different institutions are also opinion leaders, influential and credible in the eyes of their followers and, hence, can be used for the purpose of life skills training as well.
    Economy: According to UNICEF’s (2002) “The State of the World’s Children 2003 Report”, the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in 2001was only USD 100 for Ethiopia; which by any standard was lower than not only for the one reported in this same year for developing countries (=USD 1,159) but also for Sub-Saharan Africa (=USD 519) (MoLSA, 2004, P.46). Although there are some slight improvements over the last couple of years, Ethiopia still remains to be one of the poorest countries in the world. In the face of this acute poverty, Ethiopia can exploit its untapped tremendous human resources to fight against poverty. Of particular importance in the accelerated poverty reduction strategy would of course be that of targeting the segment of the society that takes the largest population share, has greater potential for change, and that can be easily trainable. Mobilizing this potential as a catalyst of change entails, as indicated earlier, that empowering the young persons needs to be in the docket of the country’s current accelerated poverty reduction strategy and such empowerment needs, on the other, to make use of life skills training as one amongst a host of other cost effective programs.
    Given that poverty reduction requires not only increasing income but also reducing expenses, and that the Ethiopian society is not characteristically a saving society, then this would suggest attempts made to empowering the Ethiopian young persons through life skills training programs needs to include in the LST package the skills for effective use and saving of resources (material, finance, time and others).
    Education: Existing statistics indicates that the Ethiopian society is dominantly illiterate. Only 27 % are literate and with a median level of Grade 3 education (CSA, 1998). In fact, the Ethiopian young persons appear more privileged educationally than their parents. And, that there are remarkable expansions today in schooling at all levels-from primary to tertiary. However, secondary school enrollment is as yet at the minimum; suggesting the fact that life skills training would serve for the uneducated larger majority as an opportunity for self-enlightenment. Given that the quality of education in the Country today is not as expected, life skills training would also serve as an added opportunity even for school attendants, too. It would help them a lot not only in improving their lives but also their academic learning. The fact that there are both educated and uneducated groups also implies that a life skills training package should be designed in a manner to address the different needs of these groups.
    Health: Ethiopia is a country with rampant health compromising problems. Malaria, infectious diseases, and HIV/AIDS are the most common problems in the Country. Given that the Country is urbanized only 18%, the majority of the Ethiopian population is still living in rural areas with poor infrastructure and limited access to health services. The health situation of the rural people (particularly children, young persons, and women) is equally at risk due in part to the prevailing harmful traditional practices widely practiced. The situation is not any different in the urban areas. Environmental sanitation in the Ethiopian cities has been increasingly declining, particularly, which in a way endanger the health of many people to a comparable extent that rural life is vulnerable in many ways.
    In general, the population, economy, education, religion, cultural practices, and health profiles prevailing in Ethiopia today have a number of implications for specifying or defining the nature of life skills training (objectives, principles, contents, methods, resources) to be offered to the young persons. These implications shall be mentioned in appropriate places in our latter discussions.
    According to Ethiopian Herald (Feb. 15, 2003), over a century has elapsed since the founding of Addis Ababa as an urban center and regrettably its growth does not commensurate with its age. Its poor plan, haphazardly built houses, and the difficulty to maintain cleanliness due to lack of properly built sewerage are some of the major drawbacks observed (cited in Tekahun, 2004, P.20). While Addis Ababa daily generates more than 600 tones of wastes, only about 60 % are tacked by municipality in collecting and disposing at “Koshe”, Reppi dumping center. The rest are causing discomfort and sickness at every corner of the city. Even this Reppi disposal is not sanitary engineered. Open dumping, scavenging, and smelling smoking and ground water pollutions are the major problems of the Koshe (Tekahun, 2004). It is saddening to note that waste management practices and environmental hygiene are in no lesser extent so poor both in rural and urban health centers of the Country that some observers (e.g. Tekahun, 2004) even went to a greater length of saying that “our hospitals need hospitals themselves” (P.48) for treating hospital-born infections called “ Nosocomial Infections”.
  • Gendered Roles in Parenting and Family Support in Ethiopia

    1. 1. Gendered Roles in Parenting and Family Support in Ethiopia Emebet Mulugeta (Ph.D.) Associate Professor, Addis Ababa University and Director, Nia Center for Children and Family Development
    2. 2. Presentation Outline  Ethiopia: Background  Population, economy and culture  Situation of children  Women’s Empowerment  Gender Roles  The Missing Role of Fathers  Legal/policy Provisions on Family Support  What is on the Ground  Conclusions and Recommendations Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 2
    3. 3. Background: Ethiopia Population  Projection by the census, Ethiopian population is 85,900,000 in 2013 (CSA, 2011).  Nearly half (49.5%) are women.  41.5% of the population is under the age of 14.  83% of population, rural. Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 3
    4. 4. Economy  Agriculture based, mostly subsistence farming.  Source of major export items: coffee, flower, leather, etc.  Vulnerable to climatic changes and conflict.  Recurring drought and famine that make children and mothers most vulnerable. Children Sustaining Families 4
    5. 5. Culture  Over 80 ethnic groups, encouraging multiculturalism.  Mostly collectivist thinking and interdependence.  Patriarchal in relation to gender and authoritarian in relation to child raising.  Child disciplining is punitive, mostly involving corporal punishment.  Prevalence of violence against children is reported. Children Sustaining Families 5
    6. 6. Child Health  Infant mortality rate - 59 per 1,000 live births.  Child mortality rate - 31 per 1,000.  88 per 1,000 children die before they reach 5.  44% of children under age five are stunted, and 21% of children are severely stunted.  29% of children under age 5 are underweight, and 9% are severely underweight (DHS, 2011). Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 6
    7. 7. Children Sustaining Families 7 Child Work  52% of the children 5-17 years old are engaged in productive activities (CSA, 2002).  Most children engage in productive work to support the household (54.5%, CSA, 2002).  27% of families engage children in income generating activities to cope up with poverty (Mulugeta, 2008).  One of the major reasons for children to work on the streets is also poverty.
    8. 8. Women Empowerment  Ethiopian women:  are less educated (27.95% in higher education) (MoE, 2013),  have less exposure to mass media than men (22% of the women listen to the radio compared to 38% of men),  the overall unemployment rate in urban18.0%: men 11.4% and women 25.3% (CSA, 2006),  and are less likely than men to be engaged in professional, technical, or managerial fields (20.09% of the legislators, senior officials and managers) (DHS, 2011). Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 8
    9. 9. Decision Making  According to DHS, 2011,  Only 36% of women, mainly, decide how their cash earnings are used.  For 55% the decision is made jointly with their husbands,  For 8% the decision is made mainly by their husbands.  For 33%, the husband alone, mainly, makes decisions on large household purchases. Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 9
    10. 10. Violence  68% of the women covered in the DHS agree that it is okay for women to be beaten under certain circumstances. Household Responsibilities  43% of currently married women reported that their husbands participate in household chores.  For 24%, husband participates regularly, while for 59%, husbands rarely participate in household chores. Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 10
    11. 11.  Ratification of international and regional instruments,  Legal reforms including provision in the FDRE constitution,  Introduction of affirmative action and gender mainstreaming as a strategy,  National Policy on Ethiopian Women,  Inclusion of measures in national development plans, and  Efforts to implement the various provisions. Children Sustaining Families 11 Governments Reaction towards Gender Inequality
    12. 12. Gender Roles  Gender role in Ethiopia is organized in a stereotypical manner.  Women are primarily responsible and perform domestic tasks related to child and family care (Ethiopian Urban Studies, 2006).  A similar situation was noted in another study conducted on highly successful women (Sewit, 2014).  Women leaders in one study mentioned family responsibility as one of the barrier to their advance in their career (Yania, 2008).  In the context of disempowerment/biased gender responsibilities child rearing activities are mostly taken up by women. Children Sustaining Families 12
    13. 13. The missing role of fathers  Role of fathers:  Practice so far is predominantly:  Breadwinners, distant, disciplinarians,  Involve in latter years than early years, and  Focus on distant than immediate needs of children (e.g. education than care). Children Sustaining Families 13
    14. 14. The missing role of fathers…  Contribution of fathers’ involvement to children’s development:  Social/Emotional: experience in different styles of nurturing, communication, and play; opportunity for wider social resources; stronger sense of emotional security; exposure to gender responsive role model in parenting and household responsibilities;  Cognitive/Intellectual: more exploration – more confidence; different style of stimulation;  Motor development: exposure to different types of physical activities and varied areas of interest. Children Sustaining Families 14
    15. 15. The missing role of fathers …  Contribution to the family:  More harmony, cooperation and communication;  Less stress on mothers;  Benefits for fathers:  More opportunity to contribute to children’s development;  More happiness and satisfaction: getting love back, appreciation, sense of belonging and groundedness. Children Sustaining Families 15
    16. 16. Legal and Policy Frameworks for Family Support In addition to international and regional commitments, Ethiopia has made, the following provisions are available:  As a natural and fundamental unit of society, family is entitled to protection by society and the State, the FDRE Constitution, article 34, no. 3 .  Provisions on the minimal age for marriage, the need for consent in marriage, the importance of support, respect and assistance between spouses, and the right for joint management of family (Federal Family Law art. 6, 7, 49, and 50). Children Sustaining Families 16
    17. 17. Legal and Policy Frameworks Continued …  Providing families with:  Opportunities for income generation,  Counseling,  Creating conducive environment for working parents, especially mothers,  Raising awareness about children’s rights,  Facilitating access to health facilities, and  Adult education to improve the family life. (Draft National Child Policy) Children Sustaining Families 17
    18. 18. Legal and Policy Frameworks Continued …  Mothers and children are two of the main targets for social protection in the draft Social Protection Policy.  Core strategies to address gender:  Economic empowerment, access to education; efforts to change negative attitudes and discriminatory laws and regulations. Children Sustaining Families 18
    19. 19. Actual activities or implementation  Government:  Support by the Health Extension Workers (HEW),  Training on parenting skills carried out by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs.  NGOs  Plan Ethiopia: Training to parents and guardians to provide with skills and knowledge about healthy development of children from birth to 8 years, targeting 24 villages in two regions, 24,800 people. Children Sustaining Families 19
    20. 20.  Hiwot Ethiopia:  a local NGO offers an orientation for mothers on positive parenting and to children on how to protect themselves from abuse.  a 55 minutes a week program on 3 radio stations on the involvement of men in preventing child abuse and the importance of fathers’ involvement.  Progynist, another NGO, had a project with a component on parenting training offered to selected model families, who in turn were expected to train community members.  Private initiatives: private offices proving counseling services to children, couples, and families, and various forms of training on issues related to families. Children Sustaining Families 20
    21. 21. Conclusions  Ethiopia is a country with a large population.  Quite a proportion is under the age of 14.  Though there is a steady decline, all child health indicators are quite high, signaling the need for attention.  The gender role in Ethiopia is stereotypical, which leaves women as the main actors in child rearing and family care. Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 21
    22. 22. Conclusions …  This leaves little room for fathers depriving:  children of the opportunity for healthy and holistic development;  mothers of collaborative and harmonious child rearing and more time;  and fathers of the opportunity to get love, appreciation and sense of belongingness. Children Sustaining Families 22
    23. 23.  There a number of legal/policy frameworks that contains provisions on family support.  A number of activities are being undertaken to support families by the government and NGOs.  However, the number of activities and the type of interventions are limited, which leaves majority of the Ethiopia families without support.  Follow up, impact evaluation, degree of coherence and coordination among these activities are also non-existent. Children Sustaining Families 23
    24. 24.  In such a fast changing environment, which leaves all concerned in confusion, the necessity of family support is unquestionable.  This pre-supposes a further study or an assessment that clearly shows the gaps in parenting support.  A framework needs to be designed that puts together all the provisions in the various legal and policy documents and guides the interventions put in place by various parties to ensures effectiveness and coordination. Children Sustaining Families 24
    25. 25. References  Bethlehem, et al. (2006). Ethiopian Urban Studies. Ethiopia Wellbeing in Developing Countries Research Programme. University of Bath: WeD-Ethiopia.  Central Statistical Agency. (March, 2012). Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey 2011. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Central Statistical Agency (2011): Key Finding on the 2010 Urban Employment Unemployment Survey. Addis Ababa March 2011.  Central Statistical Agency. (2006). Report on the 2005 Labor Force Survey. Addis Ababa.  Central Statistical Agency (2002): Ethiopia Child Labour Survey Report 2001. Statistical Bulletin 262. Addis Ababa  Mulugeta, Emebet. (2008). ‘Negotiating Poverty: Problems and Coping Strategies of Women in Five Cities of Ethiopia’. In Mulugeta, E. (ed.), Urban Poverty in Ethiopia: The Economic and Social Adaptations of Women. pp. 10-66. Addis Ababa University Press. Parenting/Family Support in Ethiopia 25
    26. 26. Children Sustaining Families 26