3 years ago

Women Farmers’ (Dis)Empowerment Compared to Men Farmers in Ethiopia

Cheryl O'Brien, Girmanesh Desta, Solomon Petros, Fetien Abay

Abstract

In Sub‐Saharan Africa, women's farm labor is highest in Ethiopia. Using focus group discussions with 240 farmers and other research tools, our USAID‐funded Feed the Future Innovation for the Reduction of Post‐Harvest Loss—Ethiopia study explores the sources of (dis)empowerment of rural farmers in Ethiopia. We find that women are disempowered across all five domains of empowerment due to cultural factors, despite government and financial institution policy changes. Women with low education tend to engage in low risk/return farming practices, including growing less nutritious crops, thereby undermining nutritional security of the household. Our findings confirm that women's role increases to as much as 80 percent in post‐harvest. Poor storage technologies resulting in fungal/pest infections and chemicals in stored grains pose serious health risks for women, and poor women consume grains with up to 50 percent damage. Food security and development policies should empower women and promote improved technologies—particularly targeting women—to reduce grain losses and women's work burden while mitigating health risks.

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