Arba Minch University in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the main German Development Agency, hosted Inception and Promotion Workshop on “Women in Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods” on February 14, 2023. Click here to see more pictures.

AMU President, Dr. Damtew Darza, in his opening remark said, since empowering women is empowering the entire society, AMU has been doing a wide-range of research and community engagement activities that benefit and change the livelihood of women in rural areas. Renewable energy systems installation at rural health centers and schools, research based community engagement activities on Enset processing technologies, community engagement tasks of establishing accesses of clean water for drinking, construction of Pico-hydro power and irrigation projects are some of them from many on the card that benefit the rural communities, particularly the women, the president underlined. He also noted that to meet the objectives of the recent Ethiopian Government’s due attention of empowering women in social, economic, and political aspects, as a research institution, AMU is so committed to support this project others to come next.

AMU Vice President for Research and Community Engagement, Behailu Merdekios, Associate Professor, welcoming the audience said that women make up a significant proportion of the Ethiopian agricultural system with a significant role. With ever-changing climate, the agricultural and land use system of low and middle-income countries has been highly endangered which adversely affects women in particular. According to the vice president, for countries like Ethiopia whose economy is dependent on agriculture, conducting research and launching intervention based on the findings has a paramount importance in addressing the problems.

Prof. Gunther Schlee, Coordinator of the Project said, the project is articulated by GIZ to study the lives of rural women, expectations, needs, and challenges in agriculture. Research and development intervention activities have been conducted in Oromia, SNNPR, Sidama, and Amhara regions to mainstream gender issues in rural areas to promote agricultural productivity and to ensure the benefit of women, he noted. Regarding the workshop, he said that is to promote the link between GIZ with the focal persons and practitioners and to get the project activities evaluated by the scientific community of the academia. He also acknowledged that AMU and its staff have been significantly participating in different aspects of the project which further needs to be strengthened and widened.

Dr. Tirsit Sahaledengle, a Researcher from Addis Ababa University, presenting on Feminist Research Methodology and concept said, Feminism is a wide range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes with the premise of seeking women's equality and justice in every sphere of life. She also noted that the commencement of feminist research emerges from the viewpoint that values women's experiences, needs, and perception of the social world with the aim of bringing transformation and phasing out gender asymmetry in the world. According to her, feminist research cannot claim to speak all about women, but can provide new knowledge grounded in the realities of women's experience and actively portrays structural changes in the social world. 

Dr. Addisu Fekadu, from Arba Minch University, during his presentation entitled  “Easing the Lives of Rural Women: Enset Processing Machines in Use”, said,  Enset (Ensete ventricosum) is the main food source for more than 20 million Ethiopians residing in Southern, South-Western and Central parts of the country.  Along with its several uses, the plant has good resistance to drought and can be harvested at any time of year, he said. According to Dr. Addisu, the university has worked on several researches to modernize centuries-old cultivation techniques and notably the process of fermentation. After intensive research and field study, a new type of modern Enset processing tools and fermentation technologies introduced that improve yields, reduce wastage and save huge labor of women, he remarked.  

AMU Executive Research Directorate’s Director Dr. Tesfaye Habtemariam, in his closing remarks said, AMU has been working in cooperation with different national and international universities and research institutes on capacity building, research and community engagement activities. He recalled that the university has started collaboration with German institutions since its establishment; the role of German's GTZ was significant in terms of strengthening the Institute of Water Technology which is the foundation of the current Arba Minch University.  Elaborating further on decades old collaborations, he said,  the university is working with GIZ on watershed restoration recently and he further confirmed that the university is ready to cooperate with GIZ and other organizations in other fields of common interest.

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