Ethiopia has revised its radical land reform of 1975 via land proclamations. Although the status quo of state ownership of land has been maintained, there is progress in terms of gender. This study is conducted to examine the impact of the land tenure reforms on women empowerment in land management decisions at household level using survey data collected from 394 wives and female head of a family in 2007/08. The results showed that land related decision making is still dominated by men although it has shown a modest change in favour of women ‘with’ the land tenure reform. Women perceived that they have a better autonomy over fixed assets and resource use ‘with’ the reform. However, the improvement in land related decision making and asset control was not accompanied in income control, decision making on self earned money and political participation. In the latter cases a reversal tendency was emerging. The women empowerment index computed using principal component analysis for the ‘with’ and ‘without’ land tenure reform situation indicates that the overall women empowerment status shows improvement after the land tenure reform. However, around 31% of women respondents’ empowerment index has shown decline. This suggests that the affirmative action taken in the land proclamations in favour of women may not be welcomed across the board. A single intervention is proved inadequate to remove shackle of women’s disempowerment that arises from the pervasive traditional and cultural norms. This might call for interventions in strengthening women’s organizations, extensive education and awareness that ensures women’s empowerment in all aspects of life.
Key words: Land tenure reforms, women’s empowerment, principal component analysis.