Amongst countries in Africa, Ethiopia has come up with dynamic women model farmers. Also many Ethiopian women have been positioned in ministerial leadership post across key government sectors. However, it is also true that a significant segment of women in our country live below the poverty line and they have not yet benefited from the promising economic growth as they should.
Moreover, in Ethiopia, women had taken part in freedom struggles waged and they did fight shoulder to shoulder with men. Women have also increased their participation in top-line careers. Ethiopia's economic planning process for women has developed a purely economic approach, where women would benefit from the development-oriented phase and the plank of empowerment that seeks to promote gender equality.
Most importantly, women also play an important role in agriculture operations which the nation is undertaking 80 per cent of farm work and provide huge contribution in food production and economic growth.
Currently, the major milestone in agricultural development is not left for men alone. Decisive is also women's role at the grass roots level throughout the country, which translates into for about 20 million households.
Recently, the nation had colourfully marked the 8th National Farmers and Semi-pastoralists Day at Adama town. Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn handed over awards for over 570 farmers and semi-pastoralists for transforming themselves into agricultural investors, securing a capital of over 1.5 million birr, creating jobs for women and youths. The prizes includes medals, trophies, tractors and saving bonds worth birr 3,000 each.
Among the awardees, 60 of them were women. They used improved seeds and practice of_ modern farming techniques. Indeed, they were properly implementing the supports from agricultural extension workers to unleash the potential of technologies for better productivity. Women created millions from agricultural activities and ensuring prosperous living conditions for themselves and their families.
In fact, women also created an important avenue to better allow the Ethiopian agriculture contribute to growth. Their role is immense in strengthening diversification of rural activities to commercial crop production, modern livestock production, fishery, and agriculture-based sideline activities such as rural enterprises.
Another option for transforming agriculture is shifting smallholder farmers from producing staple food to industrial raw materials. This mode leads to increased product supply of raw materials for agro-processing and manufacturing industries. However, given the age-old farming tradition of smallholders, a plan of shifting may be achieved in the short to medium run.
Market allows households to increase their incomes by producing crops which provide the highest returns to land and labour, and then use the cash to buy household consumption items, rather than be constrained to produce the various goods that the household needs to consume.
Apart from restructuring the traditional subsistence agriculture, and producing quality raw materials for industries, it is crucial to raise the awareness of women for commercializing their products at local and foreign trades.
To look over instances from the 2015 report of the Ethiopian Economics Association, value-added in the sector grew at an average rate of 6.6 per cent in the period between 2010/11 and 201/14. The year 2013/14 also marks even a further deceleration in the performance of the sector as value-added grew at a rate of 5.4 per cent. Even this rate can be considered robust for a sector dominated by smallholders operating for subsistence.
While the rate of growth in the agriculture sector has been considered to be significantly high so far, its role in the transformation process can be fast challenged unless activities in the sector are diversified.
Crop production has still dominated growth in the agriculture sector. The crop sub-sector accounted for 86.4 per cent of the growth in the total value added in the sector in this fiscal year 2013/14.
In this regard, women have to shift to the production of industrial raw materials to dramatically change their ways of life into an empowered and progressive one.
Thus, the government and other stakeholders must empower women in such economic activities through various means, providing farmlands, loan, and facilitating the provision of agricultural inputs and technologies.
Empowering women is the most effective tool for development as well as for poverty reduction. Women who are educated and have been given a chance, have proved that they excel in their professions and careers. Educated and enlightened women can look after families better, make societies compassionate and make nations forward-looking.
Women must also be motivated to fight discrimination in every aspects. They should work aggressively for their own empowerment. One important step in this direction is taking them aboard in development efforts from a very early age so as to make them morally and economically strong. Their is a need to to build-up their self confidence to face the challenges of life.