Integrating gender in agro-value chain development in Ethiopia

MSM recently supported Gambella University to mainstream gender in value chain education. Gambella University (GmU) is one of the recently established higher learning institutions in Ethiopia. The College of Agriculture at GmU has planned to open a BSc program in Agribusiness and Value Chain Management for the next academic year.

To this end, MSM and the Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) have supported a five-day training program on integrating gender in agro-value chain education and empowering women, for 20 staff members (including 3 women) from the university.

The training focused on why and how to integrate gender in the value chain and how to empower women. Participants used three value chains (coffee, maize, and dairy) from the region and analyzed gender, from context analysis to value chain development intervention. Through discussions and exercises the participants learned how to analyze gender using the chain empowerment matrix and the gender empowerment framework. Additionally the participants gained knowledge on why, when and how to use five possible strategies for integrating gender in the value chain.

Using the 4 R’s (Representation, Resources, Realia, and Realization) framework for gender mainstreaming, the participants analyzed the GmU context from a gender perspective and made recommendations. For instance, the participants identified that the representation of women in leadership positions is almost nil. Although both men and women in the university have difficulties to access resources (e.g., ICT services, computer and office space, toilet, water), the constraints are more challenging for women than men. Some of the participants also mentioned that there is resistance and a lack of commitment to address gender-based differences in terms of needs and interest in the university.

In the final session, the facilitator shared experiences of a Gender Mainstreaming and Women Empowerment project from Haramay, Dire Dawa and Jigjiga Universities of eastern Ethiopia. Participants suggested that a similar project could address gender-related issues and empower women in Gambella University and the region.

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