Datum & tijd 15/03/2018, 15:30 - 17:00 uur
Pieter de la Court gebouw
Seminar African Studies Centre Leiden: Women in the ‘Developmental State’: Female Employment and Empowerment in Ethiopia
Lovise Aalen, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen
The claim that female empowerment is ‘smart economics’ has become conventional wisdom. The opposite relationship, however, that economic growth is positive for gender equality, is more controversial. Although mainstream economic theory prescribes that growth, directly or indirectly, will ease the pressure on women, experiences from countries with fast-growing economies show that women’s status and position will not automatically improve as a country gets richer. This is particularly the case in countries that are in the early stages of export-led industrialization, and under highly patriarchal and politically suppressive regimes.
This seminar aims to contribute to this discussion with reference to Ethiopia: What is the impact of economic growth, through formal female employment, on the empowerment of women?
Through the study of female manufacturing workers in Ethiopia, one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, we have analysed how women’s participation in the labour market impacts on gender roles and on women’s participation in society through interest groups. In the Ethiopian ‘developmental state’ regime, economic mobilization of women is considered crucial for creating growth. Mobilization is, however, coupled with restrictions on political opposition and civil society, leaving citizens with few options of participation other than through the ruling party and its affiliated organizations. This gives women few possibilities for exercising political influence, which is a crucial aspect of women’s empowerment.