The Role of Cooperatives in Promoting Socio-Economic Empowerment of Women: Evidence from Multipurpose Cooperative Societies in South-Eastern Zone of Tigray, Ethiopia

Aregawi Tesfay, Haileslasie Tadele


In developing countries, among the poor, rural women are the poorest and more vulnerable. Cooperatives can be used as breeding grounds for socio-economic empowerment of women. To this light, the major concern of this study is to analyze and assess the role of cooperatives in promoting socio-economic empowerment of women. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used for this study. Primary data were collected through interviews, questionnaires and focus group discussions and secondary data were collected from internal documents of the cooperatives. Out of the target group 75 multipurpose cooperative societies (MPCs), the researchers purposively selected MPCs established before 2005. Out of the selected target group MPCs, 25% were randomly selected and 30% of women members were also selected randomly. Nevertheless, the collected data is analyzed using descriptive statistics. The results of the study indicated that women participation in cooperatives is very limited. More than 80% of the respondents are involved in farm activity and only 5% are engaged in paid work. 90% of the respondents have joined their cooperatives to access financial sources and improve their bargaining power. Nevertheless, the results reveal that women members have improved their income, livestock holdings, autonomous decision making and spending power after joining their cooperatives, but, its regularity is limited. Participation in important affairs and management positions of their cooperatives level and access to training of the women members is still limited and hence governmental and non-governmental organizations need to consider gender equality in their cooperative members’ capacity building programs.


Cooperatives, women, participation, socio-economic empowerment

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International Journal of Community Development

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