Continuity and Change in the Status of Women: The case of Arsi Oromo Living Adjacent to Upper Wabe Valley (Dodola)

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Addis Ababa University


This thesis attempts to explain the causal factors for relegation of the status of Dodola Arsi women both from cultural view and economy determinist approach through a comparative study of Serofta and Nagelle Meexamo PAs. To this end, it begins with a discussion of social organization which shows that, according to the traditional social category, there are five levels in the form of Kinship structure in the Dodola Arsi Oromo. Namely: Mana, Warra, ardaa, balbal aand gosa. These are interconnected with lineages and clans. Traditionally, there is Gada practices which governs the political, economic and cultural life of the Dodola Arsi Oromo However, women are excluded from the Gada class which is the main source of public status. Nevertheless, there are women’s institution like ateete, Qanafaa, Siinqqee and rakoo by which women safeguard and defend their interest both in the family and in the community. These are female enterprises. The study has found that in both PAs, there are similar cultural and economic environment which have direct impact on the status of women. Thus, both in Serofta and Nagella Mexama, the socio-economic status of women is lower than that of males which emanated from sex biased socialization ideology in particular, and socio cultural values in general. Based on this, it is argued that cultural values exert substantial influence on the status of women. In this thesis, it is also argued that in Serofta and Negelle Meexama, traditional social status of women persists, albeit in altered forms, long after fundamental changes took place in their political and economic base under the disguise of “modernity”. Traditional marriage practices which have impacts on the status of Dodola Arsi women also persisted with slight change in forms. Rare forms of marriage practices which do not have cultural approval and which entails negative impact on the xii status of women are also introduced. With that, sex related crimes were also perpetrated on women. However, though modern education is introduced, it did not change much the status of Dodal Arsi women. Their participation is very low both in schools and professional fields. This have direct repercussion on economic self-reliance of women. The women are still fettered with traditional norms and values both in domestic and public sphere. Through an analysis of economic achievement of individual women, it was argued that within the framework of structural opportunities and constraints, there is some place for women to improve their economic condition which help raise their low economic status. The economic prospect of women as an individual and category can be elevated by reconsideration of women’s traditional institution, by increasing decision making power of women both in the household economy and in public, by facilitating women’s accessibility and control of resource particularly to agricultural lands and imputes and promoting women’s technology through intensification of education opportunities. In the final analysis, it was suggested that the present low position of Dodola Arsi women is the result of both cultural and economic leverage which made their male counterpart superior in community in general, and in the household in particular .



Social Anthropology