Malala visits Ethiopia

31 Jul 2019

Malala Yousafzai, a UK-based Pakistani activist for female education, visited Ethiopia in July where she met with various government officials including Prime Minister Abiy, President Sahle-Work and young Ethiopian activists to learn more about Ethiopia’s progress on education and equality, as well as the challenges and the changes they wish to see for their country.

Malala with President Sahle-Work

During her meetings with government, the young Nobel Prize laureate exchanged views on the empowerment of women and girls and encouraged the Ethiopian government to make further steps to address the challenges to girls’ education. Malala was accompanied by her father Ziauddin, U.K. Board Chair Mabel van Oranje and Malala Fund staff.

In an exclusive interview with Fana Broadcasting Corporation, she said “I met the Prime Minister and the President, and they are passionate in empowering girls and women in Ethiopia. They are also working to implement policies that protect the rights of women and girls.”

“I hope these efforts will bear fruit,” she said, adding that girls also need to speak out and play their part in women empowerment.

In meetings with young Ethiopian activists, issues discussed included early marriage, unintended

pregnancies, poverty and cultural norms as barriers to girls’ education in Ethiopia.

Early marriage, in particular, is a global challenge and the issue should be given due attention in Ethiopia accordingly, she said.

“We need to fight against this issue to inform girls to engage [in] their education,” she said.

When asked about her Ethiopia visit, she said “In Ethiopia, there are so many things to celebrate and enjoy. I really like Ethiopian cultural food. I met with girls and they want to become leaders.”

She spoke about the Malala Fund, which invests in education programmes to help girls go to school and reach their full potential and expressed her desire to provide support to prevent girl’s dropping out of school in Ethiopia.

Malala, who turned 22 on 12th July, celebrated her birthday in Ethiopia by spending the day with young activists.

….women taking centre stage in Ethiopia

As part of Prime Minister Abiy’s reforms since taking office in April 2018, Ethiopia has reached huge milestones towards gender parity.

School enrolment for girls has doubled in the last quarter century and for the first time in Ethiopia’s political history, women have been elevated to top government posts: a cabinet reshuffle saw a gender- balanced cabinet with women taking up half the ministerial posts, the first female president and first female supreme court president.

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