Poverty Has a Woman’s Face: Exploring Economic Independence Recap

The Hilton Hotel hummed with energy on March 7th as AWiB hosted its monthly networking event, “Poverty Has a Woman’s Face: Exploring Economic Independence,” commemorating International Women’s Day. The air was charged with female solidarity as attendees mingled, creating a setting for an empowering evening ahead.

Hinjat Shamil, AWiB’s 2024 president, set the stage for the event, paving the way for Lidya Yohannes, the Membership Relations Manager, to delve into AWiB’s mission of cultivating a robust and diverse networking community. The presence of sponsors like Yetem Trading, Enat Bank, Impala Communications, Peniel Industry PLC, TotalEnergies Marketing Ethiopia, Maheder Foods, and Zoskales Diamonds added a dynamic touch to the atmosphere.

The evening unveiled an exciting announcement that ignited enthusiasm with the audience — the Haset Women Leadership Program. This program is initiated by the Packard Foundation, designed by Emerge Consultancy and Training Plc and implemented by AWiB. The program’s ambitious mission redefines leadership that empowers women to unlock their full potential and envision a future where women hold leadership positions across CSO fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

Hinjat then introduced the moderator of the panel, Desset Abebe. Desset is a Program Specialist at UNWOMEN. Her warm presence led to a panel discussion that crackled with intellectual vigor. Tsigie Haile, the dynamic founder of Women in Self-Employment (WISE), and Samrawit Tassew, a distinguished figure in peace, security, law, media, and advocacy, took their places, further enriching the event with their insights and expertise. 

The discussion revolved around critical questions:

●      What are the root causes that trap women in poverty?

●      What best practices are being implemented by successful organizations in Ethiopia to promote women’s financial independence?

●      Why is this a critical issue demanding urgent solutions, and what practical actions can our leaders take to address it?

Tsigie Haile, unpacked poverty as a web beyond finances. She asserted that lack of money is just one strand, entangled with stolen opportunities that lead to inequality, exclusion, and limited choices. The culprit? Gender norms! Women burdened by domestic work and societal expectations find it difficult to move up to the economic ladder. Tsigie sees empowerment as the key– education, skills training, and confidence are the tools to unlock the potential for women to gain independence and be free from abject poverty.

Samrawit Tassew revealed the obscured impacts of poverty. Women, particularly in conflict zones endure economic instability, non-existent property rights, and exclusion due to entrenched masculinity. Even financial inclusion initiatives appear skewed, prioritizing small and medium enterprises. She confronts the systemic hurdles barring women from achieving genuine financial autonomy that even extends to their sexual and reproductive health rights. Policy deficiencies and the absence of proactive measures render women exposed.

As the evening progressed, Desset seamlessly transitioned into leading a thought-provoking Q&A session, allowing the panelists to delve deeper into the pressing need for systemic change and collective actions. Their personal stories and challenges they shared as women resonated with the audience inspiring all present.

The evening drew to a captivating close. In celebration of International Women’s Day, TotalEnergies Marketing Ethiopia showered 10 lucky guests with generous gift cards. As tradition has it, Hinjat thanked the panelists and presented their gifts from AWiB.

AWiB’s March Monthly event was a transformative journey filled with genuine shared experiences, highlighting the complexities surrounding women’s economic independence. It ignited a flame of inspiration for all attendees urging them to dismantle the barriers holding women back and envision a future where every woman can thrive! Let’s break boundaries together and pave the way to a world where empowerment knows no limits!

Happy Women’s Month!

The AWiB Team

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