The study aims to explore the major roles women play in livelihood security among Ethiopian Somali Pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in selected two districts. Even though the study is more of qualitative, quantitative method was also employed to some extent to gather information that couldn’t be captured via qualitative research method. A total of 722 women were sampled and participated on household survey by probability sampling technique. According to the findings of the study, women in both social settings, in addition to reproductive roles, largely participate on productive works especially in livestock production. Apparently, most of the tasks related to production of small ruminants, which are the largest in number and main source of income in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas, are the major activities of women. In both settings, the role of women in crop production is appeared to be minimal (confined to feeding of those who work on farm) due to cultural outlook that sees women as weaker as compared with men. Petty trading of wide range of commodities including livestock and livestock product is the major supplementary activity that enables the diversification of livelihoods of pastoral and agro-pastoral women. There exists huge variability in terms of pattern of expenditure along gender line. In agro-pastoral areas, women spend 93.5% of their individually generated income on purchase of households’ food items and the remaining 5.8% on other necessities such as children’s health while men spend 44.9% of their individual income on households’ consumption, 50.5% on personal needs, and spend only 3.7% of their incomes on children’s clothing. A number of problems which obstruct women’s pursuit of livelihood are identified by this study.
Key words: Livelihood security, women, livelihoods
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