Like Lem Lem, 42-year old Gidey Gessesse is a participant in the Women’s Empowerment project. With support from Trócaire and DoC-T, Gidey started a business selling Ethiopian flat bread (inerja). When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, it affected both women massively. The market where Giday sold her flat bread was closed down and the lockdown prevented customers from coming to Lem Lem’s shop. Gidey says she used up all of her savings trying to survive.
Overnight, their lives changed as conflict erupted in Tigray
Overnight the situation for Gidey and Lem Lem worsened as conflict erupted back in November. Lem Lem was forced to close her shop and worries daily for the safety of her daughters and the risk of sexual violence.
“Before the conflict, it was possible to walk around our neighbourhood 24/7. But now, we have to be inside almost all the time for our safety. We are worried our daughters will be raped, our belongings stolen, our livelihoods destroyed,” she told Trócaire.
Gidey agrees; not only can she no longer generate an income, but she feels her family is no longer safe.
The shocking impact of the conflict remains unclear but it’s estimated that 5.3 million men, women and children are in urgent need of humanitarian support to survive.
The Women’s Empowerment programme in Africa
Many women in Africa carry the responisbiity of provider and protector so programmes like these are vital in empowering women in countries like Ethiopia. Through this initiative, Trócaire and its partners enhanced the lives of 8,573 women in 2018 alone.
The Women’s Empowerment programme aims to provide women with the knowledge, skills and technology needed to increase and diversify their income.
The programme also focuses on the social empowerment of women, increasing their confidence, self-esteem and decision-making ability. The Women’s Empowerment programme also targets male community members, allowing them to proactively support their partners in participating equally in household level decision-making including access to and use of household incomes.
Equal rights for women in Africa on every agenda
Since 2017 Trócaire and its partners have made every effort to integrate a Women’s Empowerment agenda into all projects, especially in our humanitarian response programs. Women affected by natural and human made disasters are the primary targets of the program. Within partner organisations, there has been an increased drive to hire female staff to act as liaison with these women.