Our impact, their voices

Stories behind our work: Industrious leaders in Ethiopia’s industrial parks

Feature | 22 December 2022

WLDP trainees from Hawassa Industrial Park

In a world full of men bosses, Ethiopian women in the industrial parks are breaking the glass ceilings to reach leadership positions. The ILO Siraye’s flagship Women Leadership Development programme is proving that the industrial world is getting enough women leaders.

With the second round of the Women Leadership Development Programme (WLDP), the ILO has transformed women workers’ culture of work, enhanced their leadership and technical skills, and created a sense of ownership which was vital to their career development and personal life through trainings and continuous coaching/mentorships.

According to the workers testimony, ILO Siraye’s intervention has improved culture of internal promotion to the next leadership position, increased the number of multiskilled women workers and created pool of mentors/supervisors who are equipped with leadership and technical skills. It also created healthy competition between production lines to increase daily production target and receive better incentive and prize.

One of the factory workers at Hawassa Industrial Park told us how the Women Leadership Development Programme transformed her career and personal life:

“I did not have self-confidence, used to disagree with other workers and I was only focused on my own work. The training and coaching/mentorship have transformed my career and personal life as my communication skills are enhanced. I developed sense of ownership to my work and highly improved my relationship with workers. Now I have no fear of speaking up in a public and encourages young female workers to develop self-confidence and take more responsibilities.” Danistu Halemo, worker at one of the sheds in the Hawassa Industrial Park told participants.

For Tsehaynesh Legese, another employee at Hawassa Industrial Park, the programme has laid the foundation for her to climb the career ladder. She said, “After receiving leadership/technical training & mentorship from ILO’s Siraye programme, I am motivated to perform to the best of my capacity and achieve my targets. I become multiskilled operating 14 machines. The training benefits me and the company I work in. I have been promoted to team leader position.”

Many of these workers are now taking an exceptionally good initiative to improve productivity and motivate their colleagues and more importantly reaching to the top positions. Birtukan Mulatu is good example here.

She says, “there is substantial difference in my attitude, behaviour, and self-confidence before and after taking ILO/Siraye’s training and mentorship, now I conduct daily meetings with workers and motivate them to achieve their target and get incentive. I am currently promoted to supervisory position and got salary increment. I now aspire to hold executive position.”

The factory managers at the industrial parks also agree with these claims. They think the program brought concrete results in the factories in terms of increment of line efficiency, quality improvement, reduction of rework/reject and absenteeism rate. In addition to the quantitative outcomes, the managers also confirm that that the trained workers have shown enhanced problem-solving skills, conflict resolution skills resulting in improved relationships with workers under their supervision, among others.
“The training provided by ILO’s Siraye is well organised and crafted according to the needs of our employees and they have empowered them. The training programmes have increased efficiency of our employees and factories in most of the key performance Indicators. The company now has taken lesson that trainings can empower our workers, create motivation, and help us enhance productivity which should be homework for us as factory managers to work on leadership training programmes in the future.” Said Bizunesh, Human Resources Manager at Silver Spark Apparel.

According to Siyane, Soft Skill Training HR Executive at Hirdaramani Garments , the training has achieved a lot in empowering women working in the production lines. She said, “Now we have a lot of women in supervisory positions as their confidence, motivation and leadership skills are improved as a result of the training and mentorship. The trained workers have taken responsibilities as a leader, solves workplace problems in their own, they have good relationship with workers. These leaders are also coaching and mentoring workers under their supervision. In the production lines, all of them receive weekly and monthly best team awards and receive incentives.”