Background: Women underrepresented in politics

Ethiopia has, in effect, been a single party state until 1991 when EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) came into power. During the 27 year rule of EPRDF the country has transitioned towards a multiparty system and now opposition parties can operate more freely. Most of the parties are, however, still weak and lack in programming and party ideologies. Also, despite the claim of a multi-party system, the political system has been characterized by unprecedented levels of state control in every aspect of people’s lives. This is evidenced by a closed system for actors such as civil society organizations and representatives of various interest groups, violence and repression of alternative points of views, preference to the ruling party loyalists and the total elimination of public space for peaceful political participation among others.

Currently, there are about 62 political parties registered with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. There are 22 national level and 40 regional level parties. Ethnic based organization of parties still dominate the parties with over 40 parties organized along ethnic lines. Though EPRDF has been able to increase women’s participation in its own party structures; over 40 % of current MP’s are women – there is still a great need for supporting women’s civil and political rights and capacity building. Out of the 60 registered parties only one has a woman holding the position of Chair, Vice Chair or Party Secretary.

Our work in Ethiopia: Demo Finland will launch a programme during 2019 with the aim of supporting women’s participation in politics and women’s civil and political rights. This work will be done through supporting multiparty dialogue and cooperation as well as capacity building and raising gender awareness within the parties on the national and regional level.