Gender Role Affecting Self Empowerment of women

(Ethiopia is the only country in having gender role)


As we all know, the government of Ethiopia is working harder than ever to empower women and we are watching some improvements in the lives of some women. That is a great change for us and we appreciate that. Ethiopia is trying to protect the girls in the country side from early marriage and to send them to school so that they may have a better life than their mothers in their future.


Here in Addis, some small enterprises have been founded to organize a kind of business for some house wives and they are using the opportunities to earn some income. There’re women who carry fuel wood from outskirt of Addis on their back to their houses. Some of them use it for themselves while other sells it and make little profit. I heard that a kind of NGO gather few of those women and create a new job for them. However we still watching those poor old women carrying a huge load of fuel wood if we walk to the side of Entoto, Adisu Gebya or Asko directions.


I sometimes think of those poor women:

“How come they carry that huge load of fuel wood while the man who has got more energy to do it? Why the women have less income? Why is she sitting in the house and wait for the man to come and support her with her expenses for her family?”


The gender roll is affecting the women in Ethiopia. I wonder who fix that roll in the family. Even if we say we’re civilized nowadays, this issue is still there. I had been watching my mother doing all the house chores as a child and my father was sitting in the house, reading papers, listening to the radio, watching TV and reading more books.

He is gaining more knowledge while she struggle to take care of her children and him as he were one her children. Once the man gives the money he can offer to her, all the responsibilities to manage the house are for the mother. With all this loads, how can she manage to go to school? The man still goes to evening classes even after he got married. In fact few of the women broke this bond and set themselves free.


There are some issues I guess which many of us do not notice. We have many young girls now who are immigrating to Addis Ababa. Many of them are university graduates. Some of them are looking for jobs and some of them have got jobs in this town. They’re looking for a house to rent, but it is not easy to find a landlady or a landlord that will rent a house for the girls. House owners can have small rooms to rent, but most of them do not allow their tenant should be a woman.


This comes to the gender roll again. Here in Ethiopia, women are the only person to do the cooking. Wherever you may travel, male and female share the house work but in Ethiopia only women supposed to be the cookers. If the man cooks in the kitchen, they think it is a big shame for them.


The cooking style of Ethiopia has a long process. If you want to bake the enjera, cook shiro wot, gomen, or doro wot it takes time. it is not only time taking, but washing and cleaning takes much of their time and there will be too much water to use.


Let us say, a woman is cooking doro wot. She has to sit and peal 20 killo grams of onions, few pieces of garlic, a whole chicken, some ladles of peeper powder (berberie), homemade butter and more powder spices she should prepare. She has to chop the onions after she washed it properly. The garlic will be smashed. And then, she cut the chicken in to pieces and she washes it with lemon, and a lot of running water.

She has to bake the enjera because she can’t eat it without it. she should make the dough, and after two days or more, she will cook the absit, and she will use more water to dilute her “” ye Enjera Lit”. If she use the electric stove, it will share power. If she uses the fuel wood to cook the enjera, she will be sharing the fire house (traditional kitchen).

To make these two things, the woman will be sitting in the kitchen for six hours minimum, but I know it will take more. Our cooking style takes too much of everything. The woman waste her time, too much energy and a lot of things. That is a lot of waste.

If she is a student, that takes much of her study time. If she is a worker, she can’t get enough time to rest her mind and body. This gives the women a stressful life. Even if they rent their house to a woman some of them, they keep on teasing her about spilling water, and about dropping the potato or onion’s pills in their compound. Most of the house owners are very mean to their tenants.


And on top of everything, the house owners refuse to rent their house for women. If they rent their house to a man, he won’t cook. He will eat outside and he’ll come to sleep only. If the guy is smart enough, probably he can have a pan and a tea pot to fry eggs and to make tea for his breakfast, or his girl friend when he invites her.  ….lol.( edit it here)

To rent a house for a man is good, because he doesn’t change his clothes every day. If he doesn’t change his clothes, he probably washes his clothes once in a month for the last four weeks he used. The land lord will be happy, because there’s nobody to share a place where he hangs the washed clothes, and to spend a lot of water. In contrast, if he rent his house for a woman, she will be washing her clothes at least once in a week and she will be using too much water and that will drive the owner crazy. She will be cooking doro wot when she invites her friends or relatives and she will be spilling his water throughout the day. After all the smell of the spicy doro wot goes to his house and his tenant will never let him taste it and that will be annoying him greatly, probably he is having tasteless shiro wot on the same day.( ha ha) edit


Because of these issues, house owners do not want to rent their houses for women. Because of the gender roll, they are subdued to have a male partner to get a house. Women coming to Addis due to education or work are mostly denied of access to house for rent. Most of the settlers in rented houses are migrants from places other than Addis.

Can we figure out how we make their life difficult if we deny them to rent?


I think this is the most forgotten agenda while we are mentioning “ Empowering Women”. How can they work while they have no place to stay? How can they work before they settle down?

We have been saying “ to empower women is to empower the community!”

The most necessity things for us are, food , shelter and clothing. Where can the woman shelter in Addis if the house owners refuse to rent for her?


You may tell me, “She can go and rent a condo.” How many of the woman can afford the condo? Let me tell you about one of my friend who rented a condo at gergi, the first condominium which built by GTZ. She rented it for 2400.00 birr first time. The owner of her condo lives next to my office and I was paying the rent for her. After two month, it was 5000.00 birr a rent for couple of months. Next time she gave me 6000.00 birr, and I told her she gave me 1000.00 birr more.

I was surprised how fast the rent is going up. After two months, she gave me 7000.00 birr to pay for the lady, that means it’s getting higher 3,500.00 birr per month. Then my friend gave birth for her first child, and the lady asked 4000.00 birr per month. In every other month the owner was hiking the rent. She was telling my friend, people are bargaining to pay her 6,000.00 birr to rent the same codo which my friend stayed in it. I advised my friend to refuse to agree with that. She asked the owner to give her two months to look for a new place, but she didn’t find one. She moved in to her mother’s house, because she had no alternative. My friend’s mother had to force her settlers who rented the house to make a room for her own daughter.


Imagine, we are working for the government and we never get promoted every other month. But our house rents, the price of the food, the transport and all other expenses are getting higher every day. This is really scary.


Like the place around Haya Hulet mazoria, you can rent a single room from 1000-2000.00 birr. Women who do some odd jobs stay in group in it, because they have daily income if it is handsome or not. But for the rest of the women who works or learn and live normal lives, house owners make it very difficult for them.


From my point of view, these situations are leading the woman from self development to prostitution. If they’re not allowed to rent a house alone, they are going to have partner without their plan. If they want to survive it, they have to have big money. When there’s no means of getting more money, they’ll be accepting the proposals that’ll be offered by any man while they are going to work or leaving their house. It is simple to catch up with those men who want to buy a woman’s body with their money, in the morning, during the day or in the evening. Unless the woman is faithful for her aim or unless she respects her body, she can make a hell of money by going with those men.


Why are our eyes blinded for this case? Not only the government, but also the community has to open his mind now and start to think today.


What if that women or girl is yours?


Does your daughter should be treated this way when she goes to college or to work in other city other than Addis?


The house owners should treat the women or the girls as if they were their children. The government can’t bring a change to empower the women by itself unless we support them and solve their problems by the things or by the power we have in our hands.


At last, I have something to say for the men in Ethiopia. Who told you that, men can’t wash clothes, men cannot cook in the kitchen except in Awra Amba Communty( the only place where there is no role in the house in Ethiopia. both men and women do all house chores equally)

Start doing all kind of house chores from today. It I all your fault that the girls or the women can’t get a house for rent in Addis. If you had been cooking and washing the way the women do, the owners of the houses could have treated them they way they treated you. These women or girls are going to be your wives or girl friends. They can be a famous athletes, singers, actress, doctors and teachers and help you someday or make you proud of them and your country. To defend these women, the solution is in your hands. Men of Ethiopia, do the house chores starting from today.





Dear Mulitti, I read your post keenly. The role of woman in your community. Like in most African communities, the role of a woman is vast i.e never ending. This doesn't really come across to me as gender based violence but more as the women being over burdened. I think where I have a problem is with discrimination between girls and boys in terms of letting accommodation to university students. This to me is absurd especially when girls have to sell themselves to prostitution to be in a position to be able to afford their rents. This is happening in most places around the world. The good thing is you are able to raise your voice speaking and sharing this with sisters in this forum. Where you can learn from other world pulse sisters whose communities have experience the same and how they are managing to help them overcome this problem. We are here to share and learn from each other and God Willing we shall overcome. God bless you Cheers


Dear sis Muliti,

you just made my day!I Miss Addis even more!I loved reading your description of how the women cook enjera.Women in Ethiopia are overcomers.I have always admired these hardworking and beautiful sisters.Thank you for being a voice for many of them here on World Pulse.

Much Love,


"I don`t just want to tell stories,I want to change stories"

Chi Yvonne Leina

Dear Mulatwa,

Thanks a lot for sharing your very interesting and powerful story. I read it carefully and from it I now feel I know what the woman and girl in Ethiopia is going through. You are a true advocate for the women and girls in your country.

Can the government of Ethiopia have rules governing houses for rental so stop the kind of harassment on women since shelter is a human right? I feel if this continues to happen then like you mentioned the girls will be forced by such circumstances to be lured into sexual exploitation. Education to community members and sharing your story with your community radio might change the perception of people who are doing that especially the Landlord/Landladies.

Thanks a lot for sharing this.

Very warm regards,