Improving Higher Education for Women

In Ethiopia, thousands of students are enrolled in government higher learning institutions. Increasing numbers of students are female and the systems to support these young women are not yet fully in place. Over 50% of first year female university students drop out before the conclusion of their first year. Issues such as insufficient financial support, lack of confidence, poor knowledge about reproductive health issues and sexual harassment lead to poor academic performance and keep female students from participating optimally in university and community life. Many of these factors can be attributed to lack of leadership skills and assertiveness among young women along with systemic issues within universities themselves.

To address this need, The Institute of International Education in Ethiopia has designed the Ethiopian Women’s Leadership Program (EWLP), with funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Under this program, IIE works with Addis Ababa, Gonder, Jimma and Haramaya Universities to provide a leadership development program and works with university administrators to strengthen educational outcomes of female university students. These students are exposed to a 9-month academic year program that includes a leadership retreat, weekly sessions on various personal development issues, mentoring and a service learning component. Through these activities, young women are more confident, stay healthy, and are able to reach their educational goals.