In Ethiopia, the number of women engaged in agriculture is increasing as more men withdraw from farming.
Although women play a central role in agriculture and family well-being, their roles remains invisible. Women farmers’ participation in agricultural research and extension is still very low.
Further, researchers in Africa RISING have observed low participation by women in the innovation platforms and research groups that are at the heart of the project in Ethiopia. Low participation by women has implications on the type of decisions made and how they impact on the less represented groups. Low participation of women in research groups also has implications on the adoption of the technologies experimented with and benefit sharing amongst men and women.
To address these issues, Africa RISING recently carried out a study to identify the underlying factors that enhance or hinder women farmers’ participation in agricultural research and extension activities in Ethiopia to ensure that they benefit equitably.
The study aims to: a) describe the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of women participating in Africa RISING’s research and non-participants, b) determine the level of participation of women in Africa RISING research activities; c) determine the socio-economic and institutional factors influencing women’s level of participation in Africa RISING’s research activities.
The study was conducted between March and June 2015 in the four action sites. Focus group discussions were held with men and women farmers to document their perceptions about the factors that enhance or constrain men and women farmers’ participation in research and extension activities.
In each action site, four separate focus group discussions were conducted with men and women participating or not participating in Africa RISING’s research and extension activities.
To further understand and quantify the level of women participation and the influencing factors, a survey was conducted with women farmers only including women participating in Africa RISING’s research and non-participants. At least 30 women farmers in each category participated in the survey.
The data are still under analysis and the results will be shared in different forms. However, preliminarily results from Lemo reveal that women’s work load, their position in households, level of decision making power, culture/traditions, access to information, process of selection to participate, being a model farmer, access to and control over resources, and kinship links to to kebele leaders could explain their level of participation in agricultural research and extension interventions.