Enter Search Term:


How women are taking back control through savings groups in Ethiopia

In a rural village in Southern Ethiopia, many women have little or no control over their money and aren’t allowed to participate in decision-making

Darmi and Guyo are residents of Dhadacha village in Argane kebele, Ethiopia. Photo: CST Darmi and Guyo are residents of Dhadacha village in Argane kebele, Ethiopia. Photo: CST

Mother-of-four Darmi Guyo (26) from the Argane Kebele in the Borano Zone in Southern Ethiopia has run a small dairy business in her village for the past 14 years.

Some 7,000 people live in Argane, which is regularly hit by drought, leaving thousands of families in poverty. Like most other villages in the area, the social and economic situation in Argane is predominantly hierarchical, with men dominating both social and economic aspects.

Darmi collects cow and camel milk from producers and sells it at the local market for a small profit margin to support her husband Guyo Tari and their four children. Guyo had no permanent job and occasionally worked as a laborer when there was work in the area.

“Like other married women in my village, I had little or no control over resources, and my participation in decision-making on matters important to my family was also extremely limited, as such decisions were left to my husband Guyo,” Darmi said.

Most mornings, Darmi would wake at 5:00 am to buy milk, care for the animals, procure firewood and water, and care for her children.

“My husband made all the decisions about how we spent our small earnings. He abused the little income that we had, which made life difficult for me and the family. My attempts in the past to get Guyo to use the small earnings I earn most of the time for our most urgent needs had not been successful because it is tradition for the men to make the decisions,” Darmi said.

The Oromia Pastoral Association (OPA) came to Darmi’s village and implemented a women’s empowerment project with funding from Jersey Overseas Aid through Cafod, Sciaf and Trócaire. OPA conducted counselling sessions with 1,300 women in 52 women’s groups who engaged in small savings and credit activities and received various trainings on self-confidence, leadership and empowerment.

Darmi said the project has improved the participation of her husband Guyo in household and production activities which has improved her position as a decision maker in the household.

“In November 2021, OPA offered me a three-day training on Transformative Household Methodology (THM). I realised the training could change my life as it included ways to reduce women’s workloads, and improve social and family relationships including decision-making,” Darmi said.

The training also included visits to women’s homes to carry out an analysis of gender roles and responsibilities. Darmi conducted the exercise with her husband and the result showed that she did 75% of the housework, while Guyo did only 25% of the tasks.

During the counselling and discussion session, Darmi’s husband Guyo realised the workload imbalance and they worked together to develop a plan to improve gender roles in the family. After participating in the training, Guyo started working part-time to support his family.

“The THM exercise helped me a lot to become aware again and to realise that my family is in a difficult situation because of the culturally determined division of labour and gender inequality that puts the burden of household and work solely on women,” Guyo said.

He added that he and Darmi have started talking openly about their family issues and now make decisions together. He also now helps Darmi to cook, collect firewood, fetch water, and take care of their children. The family have also been able to save enough money to buy four goats.

Seven months after the first intervention, the family conducted another gender role analysis and found that Darmi now carries out 55% of roles while Guyo carries out 45%.

According to Darmi, her husband is now a role model for other husbands in the area and she no longer suffers from the burden of the household as they share responsibilities, as well as decisions about their income.

Donate Now