HELPING WOMEN TO THRIVE AND NOT JUST SURVIVE
By Arabella Stewart
Published in What’s Out Addis
The life of a working prostitute in Addis Ababa is hard and is not a job that will lead anywhere worthwhile – her career path will veer downhill, her self-esteem will be at its lowest ebb and she could very likely contract HIV. The issues of prostitution are pretty much the same globally – it has to do with poverty, lack of education and job opportunities, breakdown of family and/or personal relationships including sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse as children making these vulnerable women feel that they genuinely have no other options in life. When they enter the world of prostitution, further negative issues engulf their lives and it can be a dangerous profession.The social organization of Women at Risk started here in Addis over 20 years ago and continues today with volunteers going around and talking to women and trying to get them off the streets.
Women at Risk offer them a rehabilitation program designed specifically to serve women who wish to leave the life of prostitution. It offers these girls and women the tools, services and encouragement to leave this profession and begin a renewed and healthier lifestyle. By the end of the program each women is expected to have acquired life skills that will also help her to work through her past and face her present life positively. These income-generating skills include hairdressing, cooking and weaving.
Ellilta Products is a social enterprise business partner with Women at Risk hiring women who complete the Women at Risk program to produce quality scarves. Some women are trained in the art of weaving and others in the skill of dyeing and producing beautiful scarves. These scarves are then marketed and sold through the international organization of FashionABLE. The proceeds from sales of scarves abroad provide sustainability and enable Ellilta to train and employ more women so that one cycle of women being helped is helping another cycle of women.
FashionABLE is committed to long-term solutions for fighting poverty and creating alternative job opportunities for vulnerable women. These women need gainful employment in order to survive and FashionABLE is able to market the rich textiles of Ethiopia through this hand made scarf production. Each woman is paid a fair trade wage and is able to produce about 3 scarves a day. Her children can also be cared for as they work in a daycare provided as part of the Women at Risk program.
Investing in Women is a win win situation – the women are given a chance to start afresh, they are gainfully employed in a tranquil setting which provides job satisfaction – knowing that the sale of a beautiful scarf they produce will help lift another women out of prostitution and poverty and be able to start a beautiful new life.
To date, 90% of women through the partnerships of Women at Risk and Ellilta have created new lives providing them with sustainable incomes and enabling them to leave their old lives behind them.
Since 1996, Ellilta has helped to restore
women from a life of prostitution at a 90% success rate. No woman ever returns
to the streets.
In addition, Ellilta has provided support and assistance to over 500 children of the women in the program.
Ellilta welcomes visitors to the Addis work shop and sales shop for local sales –located in Mekanissa.
+251 911 229717