The link between trade and development has been widely established. However, there is mounting evidence that women and men have different opportunities to access and operate in e.g. local markets. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the empirical- as well as the analytical dimensions in the area of gender and trade. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the trading patterns of farming women and men in Ethiopia - a country that relies on agriculture for the mainstay of its economic structure and export and employs the majority of the population. The focus of my analysis is to ascertain whether and how there any variations in the trading patterns of farming women and men and whether there are variations in the value of their trade. The paper is based on theories regarding the gendered division of responsibilities and resources in rural households (Torkelsson forthcoming in Rural Sociology). To perform the analysis, empirical data from two formal surveys undertaken in the Ambo Woreda during March-May 2006 are used - one village survey addressing a probability sample of farmers in four villages (n=464), and one market survey undertaken in three markets of differing sizes (n=144) (one village market, one “bigger” market, and the “regional market”). The units of analyses are “women” and “men” but I also take an intersectional perspective as well, analysing variations attributed to households headship, age and education. To broaden, deepen and blend the analysis, qualitative data gathered in the area over the period 1996-2006 are employed as a complement. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software version 14.0 is used to perform the analyses, using primarily descriptive statistics. Preliminarily, the results confirm prevailing gender-based differences in women and men’s trading patterns. Possibly surprisingly, given women’s general time poverty, women traded more frequently, and longer hours, than did men. Although they were overrepresented in village markets, women were also, contrary to expectations, equally present in “bigger” and more distanced markets as well. Nevertheless, there did prevail a rigid division along the lines of gender within markets, as men traded locally relevant forms of capital in the more formal market segments of the markets, and women traded petty items in the more unregulated market areas. Also, women primarily traded with other women, and men with other men. The strong gender-based patterns involved in trade therefore questions whether trading, in its present form, is an effective strategy for poverty reduction, especially for women. Indeed, there existed no significant correlation between the frequency of trading with access to the local wealth marker, cattle. Yet, and as shown in this paper, even if “trading” may not be a strategic activity to capitalize on resources, especially for women, trading performs other social functions which may execute strategic empowerment functions, particularly for women who head their own households. Going to the market represents an opportunity to discuss the latest news on opportunities, and may slowly break the isolation of women.
2007. 29- p.