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Enhancing Pastoral Women’s Economic Empowerment in Lowland Borena, Dire and Miyo Districts, Borena Zone, Oromia Regional State

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1 Introduction

Women constitute about 50% of the population of Ethiopia. They also contribute the highest proportion of labour force in the overall economy of the country. However, the role and contribution of women in both household and national development is significantly hampered by long-established cultural, economic and institutional constraints. Women suffer from lack of decision-making power on issues that affect their lives, have limited access to various socio-economic services (such as education and health services), suffer-from gender-based violence, and carry more domestic responsibilities that put them in physical and psychological stress. Their voice, participation, benefits and representations are also highly compromised and, as a result, they disproportionately carry the burden of poverty.

In Ethiopia, in spite of the various measures taken in the past few decades to address the problem, gender-based inequality is still deep-rooted in both urban and rural parts of the country. The problem is more pronounced in rural pastoralist areas, such as Borena, where women are subjected to different forms of exclusions, and become the primary victims of the negative effects of climate change and other socio-economic dynamics that affect their livelihood system. In addition to the responsibilities in livestock production, the gender division of labour puts a heavy burden on pastoral women as they are almost entirely responsible for domestic activities including fetching water, firewood collection, cooking, taking care of children, the sick and the elderly. Moreover, the traditional institutions, including the gada system, are highly male dominated and adversely affects women’s role in their respective communities. Consequently, there is a traditional dominance of men over women almost in all aspects, including property ownership, control and decision-making over economic resources and control of political decision-making institutions.

Based on these general premises, Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD)-Ethiopia, funded by Dan Church Aid (DCA), designed and implemented a project entitled “ Enhancing Pastoral Women’s Role in Decision-making in Lowland Borana, Dire and Miyo Districts, Borana Zone, Oromia Regional State ”. The project was primarily intended to create an enabling environment so as “pastoral women effectively participate and influence decision-making processes at all levels”. The project was implemented for the past three years (August, 2014 – October, 2017) and recently completed.
Thus, this is an impact assessment report that analyzes the project components, implementation strategies, challenges, opportunities and achievements with the intention of drawing lessons for future interventions and share the experience with others actors engaged in similar endeavours.

2 Objectives of the Assessment

The overall objective of the assessment is to learn from the work done so far and to understand both what differences the project has made and how it has been achieved. It is intended to identify and understand the key challenges and success factors for long-term changes for the particular target women groups. A particulate attention is given to identify and understand factors that affect the sustainability of the interventions and the effectiveness of the implementation strategies employed, so as to get lessons for future programming, strategies and activities which would eventually contribute to the sustainable improvement in the livelihoods of the target population.