CGIAR Gender News

Women and youth can transform economies - if given the chance

Youth and business Photo: CIP

Dr. Jane Wamatu, ICARDA’s Small Ruminant Nutritionist, writes about Amsalech, a young Ethiopian farmer who turned her life around after enrolling in a sheep-fattening training program. From owning one scrawny ewe and scrambling to cover her family’s basic needs, she now runs a successful business.  

A year ago, Amsalech owned just a single skinny ewe, and her children stayed home to carry out household chores or work in the family smallholding. For hundreds of thousands of young women in Ethiopia, owning a successful business is a distant dream. Amsalech is one of relatively few who made good through one of ICARDA's programs.

Masses of young Ethiopians are unemployed, their potential wasting. This creates a spiral of high burden ratios in families and communities. Family members with opportunity save less while supporting those without.

It’s a story echoed worldwide, particularly where ICARDA works within CGIAR, the world's largest agricultural innovation network. In dry vulnerable regions that are characterized by resource-poor smallholder farmers, women and youth, often last in line, face additional challenges such as gender-based inequalities and unemployment.