Women’s participation in agricultural cooperatives in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, 85 percent of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood. Many are smallholder farmers who lack modern inputs and market access. Agricultural cooperatives hold much potential to enable these economically weak farmers to increase their collective bargaining power and individual capacities and so enhance their incomes. They provide input services, create market opportunities, and help sell their members’ products. In most developing countries, female farmers—who contribute tremendously to the agricultural sector—are marginalized from participating and benefiting from such groups compared to men. In Ethiopia, women represent only 20 percent of cooperative membership and even fewer are found in management positions.
This paper uses a rich dataset from a survey undertaken by the Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA) and the Interna-tional Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2009 in eight woredas in seven regions of Ethiopia with a sample of 1,117 households and 73 agricultural cooperatives. Using descriptive statistics and econometric analysis under a critical gender lens, the paper identifies which cooperative, household, and individual level characteristics influence women’s participation in agricultural cooperatives. The findings suggest that a major barrier to women’s access are gender biases within households, communities, and cooperatives themselves that favor educated male household heads and land owners over resource-poor women.

Woldu, Thomas
Tadesse, Fanaye
Waller, Marie-Katherine
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI)
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