Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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MULUNESH Tsegaye, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

This paper presents evidence that gender norms and identities (masculine and feminine) along with socio-cultural factors have impacts on a farmer’s willingness and ability to innovate. 275 individuals (137 men, 138 women) in four wheat-growing communities in Ethiopia, participated in the study conducted in 2014 and validated in 2017. Seven standardized qualitative methods were used to collect data on enabling and constraining factors for innovation and their gender dimensions including semi-structured interviews, individual life stories, and participatory single sex focus group discussions. Women ranked confidence and family support as the top two factors that promote innovation while men ranked money and availability of role models. Men ranked financial constraint and socio-cultural barriers related to women’s mobility and division of roles as the top two factors that hinder innovation while women ranked financial constraint and a lack of support from husbands and the community. Moreover, women are considered weaker innovators by respondents and are watched more sharply and judged more harshly than men. This impacts upon their willingness to take risks, to innovate and their self-confidence. Additionally, agriculture extension workers do not as readily visit female headed households because of social norms about interaction between the sexes and ensuing gossip of affairs. Given GTP2 aims to increase agricultural production and productivity and turn Ethiopia to a middle-income country by 2025, these results suggest the promotion of more egalitarian gender relations and community acceptance for that change should be an important component to this agenda. The findings have relevance to policy makers and practitioners in particular to extension experts trying to develop Ethiopia’s agriculture sector.