Lack of decent jobs exposes women to violence

Date: January 1, 1970
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According to a recently released report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decent jobs for women are an exception rather than the rule. With such a weak economic situation, there is little capacity for abused women to stand against abusive partners.

According to the ILO constitution “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.” The issue came out clear during the Sixth African Development Forum (ADF) held by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) under the theme “Action on gender equality, women’s empowerment and ending violence against women.”
 “To achieve ADF’s goal to empower women is by no means a small achievement and it would take tremendous measures that would involve assisting women to become more economically independent,” explains Dr. Espérance Bayedila, seniour lecturer at the Institut Facultaire de Sciences de l’Information et de la Communication in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Bayedila, “Over the years it has become very clear that women will withstand all forms of violence, even near death experiences, at the hands of the men in their lives primarily because they are not financially empowered to simply walk away.”
Being the only woman to hold a doctorate in the field of Information and Communication Sciences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr Bayedila understands just how great the odds are for women to achieve a respectable degree of education, looking at the many challenges that women have to go through.
Therefore, if the plan of action adopted at Sixth ADF conference, which included strategies around campaigns against gender based violence, resource allocation and establishment of specialised units, is to be achieved, a significant degree of financial independence for women is required.
Many women stay in violent situations because of the poverty levels, and because they cannot afford to raise the children on their own. This clearly signals urgent demand for decent employment for African women. However, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decent employment that can generate substantial earnings is a preserve of only a few women.
Although the female employment ratio in sub-Saharan Africa is second in the world to only East Asia, this should not be interpreted as an achievement, as it is also one of the poorest regions in the world. Women do not work because they are empowered, they have no option but to do odd jobs with meager payment to just barely put food on the table.
The ILO further reveals that young women in Sub-Saharan Africa immerse themselves in poor quality job to earn the little money they can get to support their family, rather than stay in school and pursue their education.
 “It is only a woman who has the kind of options that a decent employment gives, that can stand up to an abusive husband and say that enough is enough,” says Zelalee Talahun from Ethiopia.
“Otherwise if her economic muscles are weak, no, matter how many ADF forums we hold; this woman will remain a silent victim at the mercy of her abusive husband.” In addition, Talahun says that the relationship between economic empowerment and the course to fight violence against women are intricate issues.
Dr Bayedila echoes this statement, “It hasn’t been easy to be where I am today, men feel threatened because I have the doctorate always thought to be theirs by right.”
“But, my work always speaks for me and because of the power that education has given me. And with the financial empowerment there in the options that I have are really incredibly inspiring.”
The report on Global Employment Trends for Women by ILO further reveal that for 100 economically active men in North Africa there are only 35 economically active women, making it the region with the highest unemployment rates for women in the world. These are worrying facts in the face of one of the greatest fights in Africa; the fights to end all forms of violence against women.
It was in 1979 that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women was signed, it is almost three decades later and numerous forums to fuel this noble course but the fruits are nothing to right home about.
This high degrees of economic dependency on men will keep women within the jaws of violence and African woman will remain vulnerable and a victim; of the most grotesque degrees of violence and this is why there is need to look into unemployment and making women have decent jobs if the fight against gender based violence  can be achieved.
Joyce Chimbi is a Kenyan journalist. This article is being distributed by the GL Opinion and Commentary Service as part of a joint initiative by GL and the Economic Commission on Africa to publicise key issues arising from the sixth African Development Forum that focused on women’s empowerment and ending violence against women.  

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