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Increasing Women’s Participation with Childcare Services in Ethiopia

Adapted from an article originally published by Fintrac.

In December 2019, Banyan Global’s gender and youth team on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity (VCA) launched mobile childcare services during project events in its target regions to encourage women’s participation in VCA capacity building activities. Across Ethiopia, and in rural farming communities in particular, women are primarily responsible for taking care of children and the elderly, meaning the availability of childcare services is limited. The VCA project identified this as one of the main reasons for women missing out on critical training and agricultural technology demonstrations.

Some women do attend events with small children but are often unable to participate with their full attention since they have to simultaneously care for their children. In fact, in a small survey in the Amhara Region, 10 out of 50 women attended events organized by VCA with small children. However, many of these participants become distracted with their childcare responsibilities, and in some cases must leave the events before they are over.

Mothers bring their small children to the pilot childcare program at a VCA project event. | Credit: Etaferahu Alemayehu, Banyan Global

The pilot childcare program aims to encourage women to attend crucial capacity building activities while their young children are safely taken care of on-site by trained professionals from their community. The goal is not only to increase the number of women who are able to attend trainings and other events, but also to improve the quality of their engagement in training and capacity building activities.

The pilot childcare program has already been successful in encouraging mothers to attend more VCA capacity building events. Bethlehem Misganaw, a pig farmer from the Gibe woreda in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region, took part in a field day and demonstration on improved pig farming practices on December 20, 2019, with her husband and their infant son. The demonstration was organized by Temesgen Retebo Integrated Farm, one of VCA’s local partners. Bethlehem explained the impact the mobile childcare services have had on her participation in the project: “My husband is the one who usually goes to events like this one because I have to take care of my small children. I came here today because I heard there is a safe place for children. This will encourage women in my village to attend and attentively follow training and technology demonstrations.”

As VCA expands the pilot childcare program, more women like Bethlehem will be able to attend project events with their small children knowing that there will be someone on site to take care of them. In turn, this will allow women to fully participate in the events, increasing women’s participation in project activities and helping VCA to meet its objectives.