Ethiopia: What Benefits May 28 Afford Women, Children?


“There is one thing I always remember. A pregnant women came to a petroleum station, with a long line of people, and asked one of the service men to give her a special or priority treatment taking her condition in to consideration. The workers asked her: why don’t you send your children instead? But she replied: I have no guarantee for my sons. What if they detain and hack them to pieces.” This recollection clearly shows the day was evil, dark especially for mothers”, said a 57 year old woman, Shasitu W/Meite.

She recalled the time of Derg as follows: ” Mothers of those cursed days were waiting their sons by the gate, because mothers were doubtful that on their way home from schools children could be detained. The military junta was grabbing students by the collar and dragging them to military camps as cannon fodders even before they took preliminary training. Though, lacking in military skills, our husbands were simply ordered by officials to go to war fronts.”

For me, May 28 is a special day which liberated me from the anxiety that my children would be forcefully recruited to be soldiers and my husband will be ordered to go to the front. That is why many reiterate May 28 is a day that heralded victory and ushered in peace. May 28 is a landmark that a mother can live peacefully with her children and a woman peacefully live with her husband. These days, there are no military campaigns and endless wars too. Our primary need is working peacefully and changing our country for the better.

This time, ample job opportunities are facilitated for those who are averse to idleness snob and conceitedness. They no longer have to dream for a baked cake and or a white collar job from the government. Frankly speaking, the government has been organizing women, the youth and providing shades and shelters for those, who opt to organize themselves under Micro and Small Scale Enterprises. It facilitates conditions for them.
All these was unthinkable for youth and women in the gloomy days. I am indebted to May 28 . I am proud of martyrs who sacrificed so much for such a freedom.

“I had seen many atrocities in Senga Tera , alone, a place where I had been living. Youths of the Derg regime were slayed here and there if not made canon fodders. So, what do we need now? As the favorable ground has prevailed we can work peacefully. Appreciative of the current infrastructure, economic development and social growth in the country, now students return home from schools peacefully. There is no wealth better than peace for me. So, May 28 is a day of freedom for nationalities who were brushed aside during those bleak days. Previously, no official worried to remember their existence. But, currently they are enjoying a level ground with other nationalities.

Lemlem Abreha,57, is the other interviewee living around Kore. She noted “Thanks for May 28, my children are with me pursuing education. I thank my God, because the country is enjoying a lasting peace. She recalls the time of Derg as follows: “Most youths were slaughtered. Afraid of the henchmen of the despot many used to hide in a barrel or clapboard. In so doing some youths did pass away. When my son was grabbed to the war front I cried my eyes out. I begged the Almighty for justice beating my chest with a stone. Fortunately my son later returned safe home following the victory of combatants. Those dark days are relegated to the dustbin of history. Even if I am homeless and spend what I get for house rent I am living happily and peacefully. Happily, my children are now fending for themselves.

Seen through the prism of those days, she said: “Health stations are opened in the near by villages. Mothers of these days are not vulnerable to death and give-birth peacefully. Women organize themselves to economically benefit themselves.

Yamrote Andualem, is Women Affairs Director at the Ministry of Health. For women, May 28 has afforded multifaceted benefits. Women have become beneficent from the effort of reducing maternal and child mortality rate. When we see, mother- to- mother service both the receiver and provider of health extension service are mothers. They contribute greatly in addressing problems of the community. Besides, it is a viable way for the society to ensure its own health.
The expansion of health institutions and manpower development are mainly projected to save the life of mothers. Now, mothers have become beneficiaries than ever before. The follow up of pregnant mothers during prenatal, delivery and postnatal periods have its own value to save the life of a mother. Besides, many tasks have been undertaken to decrease Non Transmittable Diseases. If you take a women for instance they are highly affected by cervical and breast cancer. Now it is possible for women to access medical service before and after they got affected by any sort of cancer.

If you take the agriculture sector, previously women didn’t manage to own land as a property. But now things are changing, they can own land and could raise from zero to a hero if they work hard. We have managed to see women role model farmers after May 28. Economically, women were languishing below the poverty line. After May 28, the government has been facilitating conditions for women so that they could organize themselves under SMEs, get loans, acquire training and shades to become economically beneficial. Currently, some women are joining the ranks of investors who became middle incomers. Besides, helping themselves, women of the day are capable of helping their own family.

If one takes the case of women empowerment, though it is not enough, women are popping up on leadership scene. This by its self is a big leap. The policies,rules and regulations introduced over the past 25 years are also ensuring the right of women,who were sweltering under double fold oppression in the previous regimes! If you take family law and the improved criminal code, among others,they have contributed greatly for the overall benefit of women. May 28, for women, has great contribution even beyond words.
According to Zenebu Taddesse, Women and Children Affairs Minister, women combatants together with men counterparts had been fighting for justice, democracy and equality. They did pay their lives too. Regarding democratic rights, each woman has now benefited poleticaly, economically. Women today enjoy the right to education and health service. On the other hand, good governance is positively impacting the life of women. So far, Various promising measures have been taken to empower and build the capacity of women. For this to happen, the Constitution and other rules and regulation have been ratified. Though various achievements are registered, still a great task remains to be done. Now women get benefit out of the agriculture productivity and others fields. Even if land ownership certificate has afforded women benefits, still, there are hurdles, especially in relation to land utilization, that begs for a remedial solution. But, this is not enough, they have to get enough training and change their livelihood making themselves beneficiaries of agricultural extension packages. The system has its own contribution in increasing productivity and eliminating poverty.

If you take women in town, their lives have experienced a turnaround after they began working organized under Micro and Small Scale enterprises. But still there is a loophole in this case. They have to have special support when transformed to a medium level. Pertaining to health various tasks have been carried out to slash down child and maternal mortality rate. These days, there are over 39,000 health extension workers. Of which 98 per cent are women. So, anyone could see for oneself the effectiveness of health extension programmes. So, women development army has contributed for the improvement of women’s health, their access to education, their right regarding agricultural practices and their fight against sexual harassment and violence.

In general, women of these days have been getting many rights and benefits over the past 25 years. This is the result of the over all participation of women. Thus, as they are highly exposed for hurdles, women have to fight to resolve rent seeking mentality and ensure good governance throughout the country.

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