Women and media in Ethiopia

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The Swedish embassy in Addis Ababa held a seminar focusing on “Women and Media in Ethiopia” in the presence of prominent media professionals, students, academia and activists.
Speaking at the opening of the seminar, Torbjörn Pettersson, ambassador of Sweden in Ethiopia, said as Sweden was one of the leading countries in the world in promoting women empowerment in media and other sectors it was important to share that experience with Ethiopia.
“Here in Ethiopia we are particularly committed to make our feminist foreign policy a reality and contribute to improved gender equality in Ethiopia, be it in our political work, in our development cooperation programs, in consular matters or internally here at our Embassy,” the ambassador said.
“Swedes are strong believers in that gender equality is not only a goal in itself but essential for deepening of democracy and for a sustainable economic growth.”
“We have formed a gender equality network that will act as our advisors when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights. And we want to create opportunities for organizations and individuals promoting gender equality in Ethiopia,” he further said.
State Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Aster Dawit, on her part said that the ministry is working towards promoting gender issues in collaboration with other institutions.
A research paper presented by Enguday Alemayehu, researcher on gender studies at the Addis Ababa University (AAU), entitled “Women and Media in Ethiopia” covered a wide-range issues including women’s participation in media and media production, women’s portrayal in TV commercials, television and radio series dramas, in entertainment and Sunday television programs as well as women’s portrayal in Ethiopian songs. Her research was one of the focal discussion points during the seminar. Participants have also debated the overall gaps in gender and the media in Ethiopian context.
Another report presented by Meron Aregaw, executive director of Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), revealed the gap in Ethiopian constitution and different proclamations regarding gender and women’s right.
Bethlehem Negash, media professional and member of the Ethiopian Media Women Association (EMWA) on her part focused her presentation on women in media practice in Ethiopia and the challenges.  Among the barriers hindering women’s participation in media, Bethlehem raised the 2008 mass media and the 2009 anti-terrorism proclamations as the main ones.
Lars Tallert of the Swedish Fojo Media Institute also shared his experience from the region and other countries so as to give perspectives and lessons to learn.
Representatives from the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority suggested in the formation of a task group from all stakeholders to continue addressing the challenges of women and media in Ethiopia, starting by working on a databank.
The program was expertly moderated by Blen Sahilu, Legal Professional, women rights activist and Co-Founder of the Yellow Movement.