Traditional Ethiopian society is patriarchal, with clear gender divisions between family members. The family had a hierarchal structure – the father or husband controlled the family’s resources and made most of the decisions. Traditionally, women were financially dependent. They took responsibility for daily household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, drawing water, raising children, etc. Adults were the family focal point and their relationship with the children was based on respect and authority. The family unit was large and its members had close relationships.
In the case of family and community disputes, the “Shmegelotch” (elders) would mediate between the parties. The move to Israel and the absorption process brought about changes to the family structure. The extended family lost its significance and the family was forced to deal with new behavior patterns that caused confusion, tension and conflict.