Good results Female Leadership Training in Ethiopia


Women’s participation in the agricultural sector

Female farmers are underrepresented in agricultural cooperatives in Ethiopia. This reflects women’s low ownership and control over assets, their time constraints, low representation in the cooperative boards due to persistent gender discrimination and gender stereotyping. Women are generally viewed to be unfit for leadership and subsequently there is a lack of support for women’s entry to leadership structures. Therefore, they have low self-esteem, inadequate leadership skills and experience and many cultural barriers.

Female leadership training for Chercher Oda Bultum FCU

Agriterra supports Chercher Oda-Bultum Farmers’ Cooperative Union in strengthening the supply chain of the dairy sector. In the dairy sector the women are the key players. However, there is a low number of representatives in the board and a low number of female members in the primary cooperatives from Chercher Oda Bultum FCU. To realise the business ambitions of the union, focus has been on 10 primary cooperatives that have potential in increasing dairy producing members, to empower women in decision making positions and to increase the membership of women in the cooperatives.
To do so, the women leadership training was conducted for 4 days in the town of Chiro. The main aim of the training was to empower women in the union and in primary cooperatives to be board members and to increase female membership in the primary cooperatives. On the first day only 24 women from ten primary cooperatives were present and on the second day the male board chairman of the 10 primary cooperatives joined the training. A total of 36 people attended the training in the end. The training focused on the involvement of women in cooperatives, gender and leadership, personal leadership and on the fourth day each cooperative developed an action plan that can be implemented within six months.
Female leadership training for 4 days given by an Agripooler and a local consultant

Findings and conclusions of female leadership
  • Women can be a member of a cooperative and they are allowed to be board members. A lot of women do not have the ambition to be a board member, they just see themselves as their husbands support. On the other hand, there are cooperatives with female board members. Also, there are cooperatives with more female than male members and board members, for instance the saving and credit cooperatives. These can be role models for multi-purpose cooperatives. However, the number of women in multi-purpose cooperatives is still low.
  •  Women do a lot of work on the farm, fetching water and often they do all the household work. Therefore, they have a double burden. In some places it is difficult to find a solution for helping women with this double burden.
  • One of the items discussed during the training was the question of whether a woman can be the chair of the board of a cooperative? Around 15 people agreed that a woman can be the leader of a cooperative and 20 people disagreed. Some male participants said that they would not accept a woman as chairperson. They think that due to their double burden in the household and on the farm the woman is not capable of leading a cooperative. Some women supported this vision, others did not. They think women can also be good leaders and the chairperson of a cooperative. Especially the women who have been educated. One woman stated that she might be able to lead the cooperative better than a man. One of the male participants stated that he is convinced that women and men are equal and that they can both be the chairperson.
  • Speaking about the added value of women as members and board members of the cooperative all participants agreed. They all want to increase the number of female participants of their cooperatives. The women in the training were all members of a cooperative already and they wanted to help the cooperative to find more female members and youth members to increase the power of the primary cooperatives and to improve the benefit to the members. They made a very ambitious action plan that could be realised within six months. For the implementation they designed a government structure from regional to district level.

The Result of the training

After the training and follow-up remarkable results have been achieved:
  • 10 primary cooperatives developed an action plan to increase women’s participation and to empower them in cooperatives
  • Creating female leadership awareness for non-members, 450 female members joined the cooperatives
  • 10 women enrolled as board members and in controlling committee positions
  • Working with new female members and motivating existing female members of the cooperatives. Increasing their participation in the dairy business, attending meetings and being proactive.
  • New members joined the 10 primary cooperatives and bought 450 additional shares.

Members joining the 10 primary coops bought 450 additional shares, generating 104,600 Birr extra

Conclusions and best practices

Agriterra and Oromia Regional Cooperatives and Union collaborated and organised the female leadership training to strengthen the supply chain of the dairy sector through the empowerment of women. On the last day of training 10 action plans were developed for 10 primary cooperatives and awareness was created for non-members. Agriterra helped to take the steps to engage women in union business and to increase membership. They helped to empower the existing members at grass root level. This will pave the road for gender equality in cooperatives.
Women who became a member of the cooperative are exercising democracy, are building on the knowledge of leadership and are increasing the chance to be a union board member. They are great examples for female leadership in the community. By attracting new members, the economic scale of the cooperatives increased. The capital of the primary cooperatives increased by 104,600 Birr (€ 3215.00).

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