Women’s Community Leadership at Grass Root Level: The Case of Gereb Customary Court in Raya Alamata District, Southern Zone of Tigray Region

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Addis Ababa University


This study examined women‟s level of participation at customary courts as litigants, leaders and decision makers. It furthermore addressed the multifaceted challenges and barriers for the representation of women at customary courts and the impact of their absence in leadership positions in protecting rights of women. The study focused on a vibrant customary court in the study area, the Gereb customary court in Alamata Woreda of southern Tigray. The Gereb customary court, which is administratively divided into three (Tabia, Zonal and Woreda) levels, entertains both civil and criminal cases. Entertaining cases related to homicide is the power of the Abo-Gereb both at zone and Woreda levels not of the Abo-Gereb at tabia level. The court has a pivotal role in maintaining and restoring peace in the society. Women have a passive and observer status in this customary court. Given this reality, the constitutional non-discrimination provision is not applicable in the customary court under scrutiny. The study uncovers that women‟s equality with men to partake in leadership positions and decision-making process is less applicable in the comprehensive setting and proceeding of the Ethiopian customary courts in general and in the Gereb customary court in particular. The findings of the study show the numerous intertwined socio-cultural factors that account for the exclusion of women from leadership role. It argues that their absence in the leadership positions of the customary court has also caused a profound impact in protecting and exercising their rights. The study presents how there is a gap between the objective of granting women equal right with men to be represented in leadership positions enshrined in several international, regional and national human rights instruments and the practical gap of gender equality by drawing the empirical data collected from Gereb customary court. The researcher used a qualitative research method. The sources of data for the study were both primary and secondary sources. In depth interview, focus group discussion, observation and case studies were the instruments employed to collect the primary data.



customary courts,leaders and decision makers