Gender and Local Governance: Women’s Participation in Electoral Politics, Leadership Positions, and Decision-making Process at Local Governments of Bench-Maji and Kaffa Zones of Southwest Ethiopia

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Wasihun Bezabih Bekele
Yitagesu Bekele Nigatu


The representation of women in administrative positions and local legislature in Ethiopia is very low. The average percentage of women in leadership positions and legislatures in the study area is 14.2% and 33.8% respectively. This study seeks to understand barriers to women’s participation in politics at the local government level in Ethiopia. To achieve this, cross-sectional research approach and probability sampling technique was used; accordingly, 399 sample households were selected. Quantitative data was gathered through a household survey questionnaire, and complimentary qualitative information was collected via key informant interviews and focus group discussions. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics whilst thematic analysis technique was used to deal with the qualitative data. The study highlights the prevalence of negative views on the capacity of women in leadership roles which adversely affects women’s ability to distinguish and manage societal affairs. The cumulative effect resulted in the thinking of women’s position in governmental offces at the lower level. The barrier that female political aspirants emphasised were: lack of experience, lack of confdence, low level of educational status, and domestic and societal responsibilities. Thus, the research recommends the need for strengthening women’s associations and civil society groups and networks that focus on local governance and citizen participation.

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