Anticipating International Women’s Day: Economic Empowerment of women from injera making

Photo: ©2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Photo: ©2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Today we celebrate four groups of women in Ethiopia: the success of their venture has contributed to enhanced nutrition of their children, the ability to provide education, and even increased respect from their husbands.

By Fatuma Hashi and Nelly Maina, World Vision

Lideta is located in an urban low income settlement in in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When World Vision began to work there, key challenges included limited income, poor shelter, poor sanitation, high unemployment as well as limited women’s participation in economic empowerment and development. All of these factors impacted child well-being in the community.

Eight years ago, WV began working with four women’s groups with 25 women in each group. Individually, the women had no opportunities to improve their own or their family’s lives. When this space opened for them to meet together and discuss options, they decided to embark on making injera and selling it to the surrounding community. Injera is the local bread like food (almost like a pancake) that is eaten as a starch with every meal.

Hareg Mamo, a group leader, says that the income from the injera project contributes significantly to enhanced nutrition and the ability to educate her children. She also experiences increased respect from her husband.

“We were just housewives waiting for husbands to provide. World Vision reached us where we are – they encouraged us, motivated us and visited us. There was a time when we were not able to take our children to school or feed them like other children. But now, because of progress, our children are able to learn with the rich ones, eating 3 times a day. I am changed.”

The beginning of the business was difficult but after a few months the women started making profits, with some making up to 5,000 Ethiopian Birr a month (approx USD 270). Each of the groups have succeeded with one group making 10,000 injera a day. The injera is now sold to the surrounding community, hotels, local universities and institutions and is even exported to Sudan, Israel, Dubai and the Netherland. It is now an impressive and vibrant industry changing the lives of hundreds in this community.

Mudunesh Hagaga, another group leader who was widowed and head of her household, transformed a bleak future into a bright one. Her son was able to graduate from the university with a degree in computer science through her participation in this project and her investment in his education.

The tangible and intangible results of this economic venture are many. Studies show that when women have income, it is invested in their children’s future. Access to education for boys and girls addresses issues of early marriage. Enhanced nutrition creates essential building blocks for healthy and vibrant lives. Modeling respect between mothers and fathers impacts social norms for the next generation.

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