Agriculture dominates economic life in Ethiopia, accounting for eightyfive

percent of employment, eighty percent of exports, and forty-four

percent of the gross domestic product. About forty-five percent of rural

Ethiopians live in poverty, and most farmers cultivate less than one

hectare. Much of the agricultural production is on a subsistence or semisubsistence

basis. The quality of public services such as support for

agriculture and education, health care, water, and sanitation in rural areas

is thus a pressing matter.

In most parts of the country, women are intimately involved in all

aspects of agricultural production, marketing, food procurement, and

household nutrition. Nevertheless, the view is widely held that women do

not farm. This cultural perception remains strong, even though numerous

agricultural tasks are deemed "women's work," including weeding,

harvesting, preparing storage containers, managing home gardens and

poultry raising, transporting farm inputs to the field, and procuring water

for household use and some on-farm uses