Ethiopian priest speaks out for women

The bishop of Soddo-Hosanna, Rodrigo Mejía Saldarriaga, has spoken out in favour of women's rights in Ethiopia.

Speaking to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Colombian Jesuit revealed that his diocese is promoting women quite deliberately through a range of educational measures.

The diocese of Soddo-Hosanna has a population of 7 million, of whom some 236,000 are Catholics.

Bishop Saldarriaga said although on the one hand women were highly regarded in the African cultures as the "source of life" on the other hand they did not get the same educational opportunities as men, the ACN reported.

"Many Africans do not understand why women should learn to read and write or be trained for a profession," Bishop Saldarriaga said.

"For this reason his diocese has an office for the promotion of women, the purpose of which is to help women to form cooperatives and which at the same time offers courses in such subjects as sewing, cooking, and computers.

"This enables them to earn their own living and to feel independent in society
Bishop Saldarriaga said there has been a good response to these Church-run promotional programes.

"The more strongly women were promoted in this way the more the awareness of their dignity grew in society."

Bishop Saldarriaga also spoke out against polygamy and the genital mutilation of women, stating these practices disadvantaged women.

Ethiopia: Catholic bishop speaks up for women's rights

3 Oct 2007