School of Environment, Gender and Development
Department of Agribusiness & Value Chain Management
Seminar presentation on
Women and Agriculture in Ethiopia
Teshale Endalamaw – ABVM/012/06
• Objective of the seminar
• Feminization of Agriculture
• Agriculture sector in Ethiopia
• Women and agriculture
• Women issues in Ethiopian Agriculture
• National policy on Women and institutional
• Women in Agriculture Value chain
• According to World Bank (2008), agriculture contributes to economic development
in many ways
• (i) as an economic activity and leading sector for economic growth,
• (ii) as a source of livelihood,
• (iii) as a provider of environmental services and
• (iv) as a contributing factor to peace and stability by providing food
to the growing population at an affordable price.
• For Ethiopian Economic growth and development the agriculture sector takes the
lion’s share of the total GDP, in foreign currency earnings and in employment
• women play a triple role in agricultural households: productive, reproductive, and
• The productive role, performed by both men and women, focuses on
• the reproductive role, almost exclusively done by women, includes child
bearing and rearing; household maintenance, including cooking, fetching
water, and fuel- wood; and
• the social role or community building, often dominated by women, which
includes arranging funerals, weddings, and social events.
• About 70% of the agricultural workers, 80% of food producers, and 10%
of those who process basic foodstuffs are women and they also
undertake 60 to 90% of the rural marketing; thus making up more than
two-third of the workforce in agricultural production (FAO, 1985).
• In Africa, 80% of the agricultural production comes from small farmers,
who are mostly rural women.
• Women comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in the
agricultural sector, but do not have access and control over all land and
• In Ethiopia, studies conducted by many authors on rural women
revealed that, women represent approximately 50 percent of the total
population and account for 70 percent of the household food
• Their share in the total agricultural labour force is considerable where
about 48 percent of the agricultural labour force is driven from female
Objective and methods of the seminar
–To evaluate and review women’s
role in Agriculture focus in Ethiopia
–Desk review of secondary data,
different literatures, reports and
policy documents ..
Feminization of agriculture
• The phenomenon started during the 1960s with
increasing shares over time
• Feminization of agriculture refers to women’s
increasing participation in the agricultural labor force,
whether as independent producers, as unremunerated
family workers, or as agricultural wage workers.
• Specifically, feminization of agriculture entails:
1. An increase in women’s participation rates in the
agricultural sector, either as self-employed or as
agricultural wage workers; in other words, an increase in
the percentage of women who are economically active
in rural areas.
2. An increase in the percentage of women in the
agricultural labor force relative to men, either because
more women are working and/or because fewer men
are working in agriculture.
The agriculture sector in Ethiopia
• important both for overall economic performance and poverty alleviation of the
• 11.7 million Smallholder households account for approximately 95 percent of
agricultural GDP and
• 85 percent of employment.
• Ethiopia has a comprehensive and consistent set of policies and strategies,
• ADLI is a central pillar of economic policy in the agriculture sector (1994)
• The following are key features of the sector;
1. greatly influences the economic performance of the country;
2. is dominated by a subsistence, low input-low output, rain fed farming
3. has performed strongly over most of the last decade, but there is still
substantial potential to improve productivity and production;
4. Government has demonstrated strong commitment - 15 % ;
5. Droughts periodically reverse agricultural sector performance gains with
devastating effects on household food security and poverty levels;
6. Gender disparities significantly impede women’s empowerment.
Women and agriculture
• In the EU, agriculture is the seventh largest employer of women
• In Greece about 38% women (of all family workers in agriculture)
are employed in agriculture.
• In Portugal, over 50% of the agricultural workforce is female.
• Throughout the South Asian region, women account for about 39
percent of the agricultural workforce, working as managers of land
to agricultural laborers.
• In India, in overall farm production, women’s average contribution
is estimated at 55% to 66%
• In China, women constitute about 70 percent of the agricultural
labor force and perform more than 70 percent of farm labor
• In Ethiopia ADLI gave high relevance to female farmers who are
responsible for household subsistence, however, there is little
attention given to mainstreaming of women farmer’s concerns or
the impact of gender relations in the subsistence farming sector.
Gender Based Differences in Agriculture
Land title and tenure tend to be vested in men, either by legal condition or by
socio-cultural norms. Land reform and resettlement have tended to reinforce this
bias against tenure for women. Land shortage is common among women. Women
farm smaller and more dispersed plots than men and are less likely to hold title,
secure tenure, or the same rights to use, improve, or dispose of land.
Women farmers have less contact with extension services than men, especially
where male-female contact is culturally restricted. Extension is often provided by
men agents to men farmers on the erroneous assumption that the message will
trickle “across” to women. In fact, agricultural knowledge is transferred inefficiently
or not at all from husband to wife. Also, the message tends to ignore the unique
workload, responsibilities, and constraints facing women farmers.
Women generally use lower levels of technology because of difficulties in access,
cultural restrictions on use, or regard for women’s crops and livestock as low
Women have less access to formal financial services because of high transaction
costs, limited education and mobility, social and cultural barriers, the nature of their
businesses, and collateral requirements, such as land title, they can’t meet.
Women face far greater time constraints than men. They may spend less time on
farm work but work longer total hours on productive and household work and paid
and unpaid work, due to gender-based division of labor in child care and household
Mobility Women are less mobile than men, both because of their child care and household
responsibilities and because of sociocultural norms that limit their mobility.
Women are less educated in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Illiteracy
hampers their access to and ability to understand technical information. Worldwide,
women have less access to education and training in agriculture.
Source: the World bank 2008
Women issues in Ethiopian Agriculture
• In Ethiopia, women constitute over half of the total
• In addition to their number, the role of women is
critical within the household and outside of the
household and in the development context.
• However, women suffer from socio-cultural
discrimination and have fewer opportunities compared
to men for personal growth, education, employment
• There is no equity in the distribution of power and
decision-making between men and women at all levels
of the government structure and local institutions.
1. Division of labour
• Agricultural labor can be unpaid (such as on-farm
family labor), paid-in-kind (such as barter or labor
exchange), self-employed (such as marketing of one’s
own produce), or wage labor.
• To the extent that women are concentrated in both
unpaid and casual labor, their efforts in agriculture are
• Women are assigned the “small” tasks such as
weeding, storing and processing, hand-harvest of some
cash-crops; culturally, it is not acceptable for women
to sow or plant. Women are also involved in growing
subsistence crops and vegetables for household
• Men will do the “heavy” tasks such as clearing and
preparing the land usually involving some form of
technology, and they will harvest.
2. Income management
• Due to division of labour, men do marketing of cash
crops while women will market surplus subsistence
• Income from sales of men’s crops is used mainly to
purchase agriculture inputs, large livestock or draught
power, and for large household equipment.
• Income derived from sales of women’s produce is
used to buy small household equipment, food
necessities, clothing, and to meet community
• Men’s and women’s income are shared for health and
education expenses of the family.
3. Land Tenure
• Land is considered as the primary means for
generating the livelihood for most of the poor living in
• here are three mechanisms, for both women and men,
for obtaining rights to land:
– (i) through social and kinship relations at the local level,
– (ii) on the land market, or
– (iii) from the state.
• There are four categories of legal rights to land that
affect women. These are
– (1) the rights women hold in marriage (shared tenure);
– (2) the right to land when the marital household changes
through polygamy, divorce, or abandonment;
– (3) the right to receive land through inheritance; and
– (4) the right to purchase land.
• In Ethiopia land rights have been and continue to be one of the most contentious
• Prior to the agrarian reform of 1975
– peasants gained access to land through inheritance or through corporate groups
– controlled by political and social elites who had been granted land by the imperial
– women had the right of inheritance and the ruling class women received land as gifts
and or were able to purchase land
• The land reform launched in 1975
– distributed by family size and registered under male heads of households
– most women failed to obtain rights to possess land
– situation was worse for women in polygamous unions, divorced women and those
who came of age after the initial land apportionment
• After 1991
– the transitional period, 1991-1994, there was a lack of clear legal and policy
directives on land ownership
– lack was addressed by the adoption of the Constitution in 1994
– Constitution states that women have equal rights with men with respect to access,
use, administration and transfer of land. They shall also enjoy equal treatment in the
inheritance of property
4. Extension and Training Services
• the fact that the extension services have been
predominantly staffed by male DAs has had
huge implications for the active participation
of rural women especially in areas where
women cannot easily interact with men due to
cultural and/or religious restrictions
5. Access to Credit
• Women are not willing to approach credit institution
due to the fact that they should to travel long
distances to get credit and make repayments
• involved in community based revolving credit and
savings groups; that were much more convenient to
them in terms of the distance, the ease of access, and
the fact that they dealt with people from the
• Agriculture credit requires some form of guarantee of
repayment and since women do not own either the
land, equipment, or the produce it is more difficult for
them to qualify for a loan
6. Irrigation and Systems
• cannot involved in heavy tasks during
irrigation facilities construction they are not
represented in Water User Associations and
are not considered to be part of the training in
operations and maintenance of the facilities
• while women tend to be less mobile and do
not migrate, for economic reasons, as often as
men, they are better suited to maintain and
manage such facilities
7. Livestock ownership
• division of ownership of livestock, where large
animals are considered belonging to the men
and small ones to the women
• women in rural agriculture households are
involved in some form of processing of farm
produce, mainly for home consumption.
• Their major constraint is accessibility in terms
of roads and transport, equipment for
processing of foods, preservation and storage
techniques and knowledge, and diversifying
the types of foods processed
National Policy on Women and
• The Government of Ethiopia made efforts to reduce the gender disparity and bring
about gender equality between men and women.
• Ethiopia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) in 1981 and has pledged commitment to promote
gender mainstreaming in all policies and programs through the 1995 Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action.
• The government also produced the National Policy on Women (1993)
– aimed at institutionalizing the political, economic and social rights of women
by creating an appropriate structure in government offices and institutions.
• A National Action Plan for Gender Equality (NAP-GE-2006) has been produced as
an integral part of PASDEP.
– the goal of the NAP-GE is to assist women to achieve gender equality through
active and empowered participation in all development programs.
• It also works towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDG
Goal number three is specifically designated to “promote gender equality and
• the national laws and policies are the basis for creating an
enabling environment for women across all sectors.
• In response to this, several sector programs issued policies,
laws and regulations with similar development objectives.
• Among the sector polices which have explicitly recognized
the situations of rural women are:
– The Health Policy (1993)
– The Population Policy of Ethiopia (1993)
– The Education and Training Policy (1994)
– The Policy of Rural Energy (1994)
– The National Environmental Policy (1997)
– The Federal Land Administration Proclamation of the 1997,
which conﬁrms the equal rights of women with respect to the
use and administration and control of land
– The Ethiopian Water Resource Management Policy (1998)
– The Federal Civil Service Proclamation of 2002, which allows
preferential treatment to be given during employment
• Ethiopia has signed several conventions and protocols
– The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979
– The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995)
and the Beijing Platform for Action
– The major UN world conferences of the 1990s, particularly
the Environment Conference (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the
Human Rights Conference (Vienna, 1993)
– The Population and Development Conference (Cairo,
– The Social Development Summit (Copenhagen, 1995)
– The focus on the integration of women was also
reﬂected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
endorsed in the Beijing platform for Action
Policy implementation structure
• The National Policy on Women aims to institutionalize the
political and socio-economic rights of women by creating
appropriate structures in government institutions.
• As a result, measures were put in place to enhance the
implementation capacity of the NPW.
• In 1992 the Women's Affairs Office was created within the
Prime Minister's Office and mandated to coordinate and
facilitate conditions to promote gender equality in areas of
• The Policy also recommended the establishment of
women’s development machinery at the respective
sectoral ministries in the form of
– Women’s Affairs Departments (WADs), the Regional Women’s
Bureaus (RWBs) at the regional administration level, and
women’s coordination and desk officers at the respective Zonal
and Woreda levels.
• The NPW highlights the following issues as areas
of intervention to achieve women’s
empowerment and gender equity in Ethiopia
1. addressing discriminatory practices and mainstreaming
women’s issues in existing laws, regulations, customary
practices and enabling a conducive environment for
women to participate in decision making structures;
2. coordinate and incorporate women’s issues in all
government programmes and policies as well as at
3. work towards changing discriminatory attitudes in society
against women and girls; and
4. promote research and awareness raising in all areas
concerning women’s development and gender equity.
Women in Agriculture Value chain
• Women play important roles in all areas of the agricultural sector.
– From farming, through transport, wholesale, retail to the
consumer; women are present throughout the marketing chain.
• Women increasingly supply national and international markets with
traditional and high-value produce, but compared to men, women
farmers and entrepreneurs face a number of disadvantages,
– lower mobility, less access to training, less access to market
information, and less access to productive resources.
• Women are significantly excluded from markets, and bringing
women into markets requires targeted analysis and program
• Most women farmers are smallholders who cultivate traditional
food crops for subsistence and sale, whereas men are more likely to
own medium to large commercial farms and are better able to
capitalize on the expansion of agricultural tradable goods.
• The value chain concept is a useful analytic tool to
understand a series of production and
postproduction activities—whether it is a basic crop,
such as vegetables, or a highly processed good, such as
cotton textile or canned tuna—and the enterprises
and individuals who are involved.
• A value chain incorporates the full range of activities
required to bring a product or service from
conception to production, delivery to consumers, and
final disposal after use (Kaplinsky and Morris 2002).
• The value chain approach strengthens business
linkages between producer groups, service providers,
and other actors, such as processors and importers,
rather than focusing exclusively on farm interventions.
• Value chains vary in complexity and in the range
of participants they draw in.
• Export value chains tend to be more complex
than local chains in terms of the knowledge and
technical facilities required, because special
processing and packaging are common
• value adding for women may exist through
– an upgrade of their current role in a value chain,
moving up to additional roles in value chains (for
example, into processing),
– finding new products and becoming dominant
members of a new value chain, and
– increasing efficiency in current interaction in the
• Agribusiness enterprises have gender-
– women do the labor- intensive tasks such as weeding
and pruning in the fields, selection and cutting in
processing, and sorting and wrapping in packing.
Women’s work is more likely to be considered
unskilled and women are less likely to receive training
and acquire skills that make them eligible for higher-
– men do the tasks that entail strength such as lifting
crates and construction of greenhouses, or that
involve machinery such as driving tractors and trucks,
applying pesticides, and maintaining equipment.
• After reviewing numerous case studies in Latin America and Africa,
Katz (2003), Deere (2005: 30-37) and Dolan and Sorby (2003: 29-33)
draw these conclusions regarding non- traditional or high-value
– women are employed for the labor-intensive tasks
– women are generally earn lower wages than men and are more
likely to be paid at piece rate
– workers, including women workers, in packaging and processing
plants earn more than field workers and have better working
conditions; work is nonetheless hard, often involving long hours
of standing, and long work days during peak seasons
– women are the major supplier of temporary, seasonal, and
casual labor and men occupy the majority of permanent jobs as
well as administrative and supervisory positions
– women are a labor reserve for this type of production.