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International News

Four Women Ambassadors Call on Ethiopian Government to Make Good on Constitutional Guarantees of Equality for Women

March 10, 2003

The four female ambassadors to Ethiopia marked International Women's Day Saturday by calling on the government to uphold and apply constitutional guarantees of equal rights for women. The ambassadors of the United States, India, Germany and Austria issued a joint statement that addressed the minimal efforts of the past 50 years to counter harmful traditional practices that increase women's vulnerability -- particularly to HIV/AIDS -- and affect women physically and emotionally.

"Young women are a valuable asset for a brighter future of Ethiopia, but their less-than-equal status in male-female relationships makes them vulnerable to becoming infected with HIV. Concerted efforts are necessary to protect them from this terrible virus," the statement said.

Up to 5 million of Ethiopia's 61 million people are infected with HIV, and that number is expected to increase to 7-10 million. Experts believe that the hundreds of thousands of returning Ethiopian soldiers who spent more than two years at the front of a 31-month border war with Eritrea have caused the spread of HIV/AIDS. Women in Ethiopia have traditionally had a difficult time negotiating safe sex practices, including the use of condoms.

Ethiopia's 1994 constitution underscores the equality of all citizens under the law and provides significant protection for women. But the ambassadors said that constitutional guarantees can only become a reality "if there is a convergence between its vision and the application of laws and policies that affect women's day-to-day lives."

Back to other CDC news for March 10, 2003

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.08.03; Abebe Andualem

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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