Ethiopia still suffers from some of lowest gender equality performance indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia is ranked at 127 out of 142 countries in terms of the magnitude and scope of gender disparities according to the Gender Gap Index 2014 rankings. The morbidity rate of 75.5% for women, against 25.5% for men; the maternal mortality of 590/100,000 live births; and adult HIV prevalence of 1.9% for women, compared to 1.0% for men, are indicators of persisting gender inequalities in the area of health and life expectancy.
With regard to women’s participation in economic life, the 2005 National Labour Force Survey reveals that women represent 47% of labour force in Ethiopia, with highly unequal participation: 68.5% of employed women were unpaid family workers and 24.8% were self-employed in informal jobs.
In Ethiopia marriage marks the point in a woman’s life when childbearing becomes socially acceptable. For women, marriage takes place relatively early. The median age at first marriage is highest in Addis Ababa (21.4 years) and lowest in Amhara (14.7 years). 34% of women are either mothers or are pregnant with their first child by age 19.