Increasing women’s participation in AgroBIG-supported interventions

AgroBIG works hard to ensure a better balance in the participation of women and men, as well as a more equal distribution amongst women and men of the (future) benefits of Programme interventions.

We asked three female beneficiaries from Mecha district for their views on the measures AgroBIG could take to engage more women in the Programme. The women agreed that tackling lack of awareness on how to start a profitable business, low levels of motivation and self-confidence, men’s resistance and women’s time constraints would be critical issues to address.

Ms Birtukan Alemasu is a young entrepreneur of 20 years, who runs a small business processing wheat and potatoes into biscuits and chips. Birtukan insists that motivating women to take the plunge into starting a business is critical: “AgroBIG should actively promote feasible business opportunities to women and convince them via training events and demonstrations that with enough commitment and know-how they can turn a profit”.

Lack of motivation may stem from a low sense of self-esteem and confidence. This is an impediment that 25-year-old district administrator Ms Atitegeb Worku thinks is prevalent. Atitgeb’s advice is to involve successful business women from the region as role models and influencers, with the power to boost the self-confidence of would-be female entrepreneurs. On the other hand, targeting patriarchal attitudes at household level is important to combat gender inequality in the division of labour, access to and control over resources and decision-making.

Ms Yalganesh Alene is a 35-year-old farmer, and wife to AgroBIG model farmer Mr Setie Adamu. Yalganesh and her husband have received support from AgroBIG since 2014, in the form of training on good agricultural practices and onion seed production. As a mother to seven children, she urges AgroBIG to place more emphasis on tailoring training events to women’s conflicting commitments which include child care duties and household chores. More women would be encouraged to attend trainings which offer childcare facilities, or that take place close to the homes.