For Kibnesh, life as a woman in rural Ethiopia used to have clear boundaries: “In the past our ancestors considered women to be weak and unable to do certain work alongside men… women were supposed to stay at home and prepare food for their husbands.”
While Kibnesh worked in the house, her husband had exclusive control over the family farm and income. They faced serious food shortages. Oxfam – working with its local partner KMG – initiated an “Asset-Based Community Development” project to promote gender equality at home and give women control over their work and income. Kibnesh now toils alongside her husband in the farm.
“Now we are both helping each other, in the house and on the farm,” says Kibnesh. “He helps me more than I help him! In the past I was under my husband and I depended on him. But now we make decisions together, share things… It’s a big sign of respect.”
Sharing work and income more fairly has helped improve the family’s situation. “If I had not helped him we would not have had enough food to eat.”