Gender Model Family and Rural Commercial Women’s Group “addressed my real problems”

Debritu Terefe lives in Kombolcha Kebele, she sells “Tela,” a locally brewed drink, and is part of the Gender-Model Family (GMF) and Rural Commercial Women’s Group (RCWG) components of CDF Canada’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Project (4R-NSP).  

As part of the GMF and RCWG, Debritu accessed the knowledge and financial services to help her expand her existing businesses. First, she secured a loan of $ 1,200 CAD from the Kokob Saving and Credit Association. The low-interest loan (14%) and the repayment schedule had to be repaid within a year.  

Debritu used this loan to open a clothing boutique for her daughter. She continued her “Tela” business while her daughter worked hard in her boutique. As a result, they repaid the loan, continued saving and supported their family jointly. As a result of their efforts, her daughter accessed a second loan and used it to increase her business through purchasing additional clothes.  

Debritu said “my daughter suffered a lot due to lack of job opportunities in her profession. She used to be stressed and sick all the time before she started the business. I used to be worried about her most of the time. Because of the loan access, she got the opportunity to start a business and make money on her own. Now she is excited about her life, and she is healthy. She is no longer dependent on us for some matters. Thus, I am excited about her business and psychological wellbeing. This happened due to the project, and I am grateful about that.” 

Debritu Terefe

In addition, Debritu accessed an energy saving stove. She stated it saved her time, energy, and health.  

“This energy saving stove helped me a lot. I used to suffer a lot before I received this stove. The benefits of the project are enormous for me and my family. It addressed my real problems in agriculture through the co-operatives, family, and finance,” she said. 

Debritu and her husband also took part in Gender Model Family training, which brought attitudinal changes in their lives.  

“My husband was not happy when I participated in any meeting. I participated in my Kebele as a chairperson, and we used to disagree over this matter because he was not happy in my participation and role. I also took the role of a secretary in the Gender-Model Family activities. He used to assume, a women should not lock her house and attend or lead meetings. Instead, wait for the husband in the house. But after the training, he brought attitudinal change and stopped differentiating roles between women and men. Now he is not against when I participate in meetings. Now we care for each other in every part of our lives, and this happened due to the training by the project,” she said.  

Approaches towards gender transformation: GMF and RCWG 

The Gender Model Family (GMF) approach addresses gender inequalities at both the household and community levels by promoting equitable division of unpaid work. It begins with training on basic gender concepts to build an understanding of the unequal distribution of care work between men and women. After the initial training sessions on gender awareness, participants assess the division of domestic chores in their own household and compare the daily activity profiles of women and men. They then work together to devise a household action plan that assigns chores in a more equitable way. As both men and women contribute to household work, they have time to engage in other income-generating activities and have more free time to enjoy as a family. 

Rural Commercial Women’s Groups (RCWG) in the 4R-NSP project bring women together to develop their entrepreneurial skills, take part in new income-generating activities and expand on their existing businesses. The project provides various trainings to RCWGs, including business literacy, leadership, saving, customer handling and more. RCWG members hold experience sharing meetings to support each other in their empowerment process, and the learnings allow them to diversify and increase their additional income from businesses other than key farming crops. In Ethiopia, 16 RCWGs have been established in 8 kebeles, with a total of 165 members who focus on income generating activities such as animal fattening, sale and trade, land leasing, vegetable production, traditional drink production and sale, restaurants, bakeries and more. 

To date, the GMF approach has brought on positive outcomes of more gender-equitable family dynamics and overall community cohesiveness. Along with RCWGs that create an enabling environment for Women’s Economic Empowerment, the 4R-NSP project is fostering social transformations that allow women to develop their professional skills and excel as entrepreneurs, all with the help and support of their husbands and male family members. 

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