Lightening the Load
Lightening the LoadLabour-saving technologies and practices
for rural women
Marilyn Carr with Maria Hartl
Published by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)and Practical Action Publishing Ltd
Published by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and
Practical Action Publishing LtdSchumacher Centre for Technology and Development
Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby,Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, UK
ISBN 978 185339 689 2 (Practical Action Publishing)ISBN 978 92 9072 102 4 (IFAD)
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and/or the Contractor/Co-publisher concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers
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Cover photo: Women operate donkey-drawn plough in Sudan.Credit: Annie Bungeroth/Practical Action
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1. Introduction 1
2. Womens workload in a changing global context 5Economic changes 5Environmental changes 7Socio-cultural changes 7
3. Impacts of labour-saving technologies and practices on womens triple responsibilities 9
Domestic chores 9Water supplies 9Rural energy 14Rural transport 22On-farm activities 25Improving farm power 25Changing farming practices 30Off-farm activities 31
4. Where are we now? 37The macro picture 37Lessons learned from case studies 39Dissemination 40Impact 44
5. Where do we go from here? 49Existing technologies and practices 49New technologies 51
Boxes and Tables
1. Women and community-based water schemes 12
2. A women-controlled water scheme 13
3. How providing improved technologies free can be counter-productive 18
4. A range of fuels for domestic cooking 19
5. Decentralized grid systems 21
6. Gender and the Peru Rural Roads Program 23
7. Transport technologies and changes in the division of labour 26
8. Labour and time-saving crop processing technologies 29
9. Womens role in innovation in West Africa 33
10. Women as energy entrepreneurs 34
11. Women investing in transport 35
1. Transportation tasks in rural Tanzania: hours per annum 22
2. Labour inputs into rice crop production, by gender 28
3. Comparative processing times of traditional, semi-mechanized and mechanized technologies 29
4. Labour requirements with conservation and conventional agricultural practices in maize farming, Tanzania 30
PrefaceWomen are central to overcoming rural poverty. They play a critical role in poverty reduction and food security because they are responsible for both production and reproduction. Rural women in developing countries have longer working days than men because of their triple roles as farmers, caretakers of their families and cash earners through income-generating activities and microfi nance. In addition, increasing drought and deforestation in many parts of the world make womens workload even more burdensome as they have to walk ever-longer distances to fi nd fi rewood and clean water.
The multiple roles of women can act as an obstacle to development interventions, which often put additional pressure on womens time. Womens heavy workload reduces the time available for participation in project-related activities or affects their ability to care for their families. Ensuring womens access to labour-saving technologies for water, energy and farm-related activities is fundamental, and the need for such technologies is greater than it has ever been before.
This publication is timely. It looks back at three decades of experiences in introducing labour-saving technologies and practices to rural women and persisting gender discrimination in access and control. It also takes into account major developments in science, technology and innovation over the last several years and shows they can benefi t women.
Gender equality and womens empowerment continue to be central to the mandate of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The key entry point for IFADs engagement on the ground is the economic empowerment of poor rural women. It focuses on three critical and interrelated dimensions: expanding womens access to and control over fundamental assets such as capital, land, knowledge and technologies; strengthening womens decision-making role in community affairs and representation in local institutions; and improving womens well-being and easing their workloads by facilitating access to basic rural services and infrastructures. Through its projects, IFAD has experimented with a broad range of technological devices and practices aimed at strengthening womens access to water and energy, thereby easing their workload and improving the well-being of the whole family.
An initiative of the IFAD Technical Advisory Division, this publication will promote a better understanding and knowledge of labour savings technologies and practices and their implications on women and gender roles.
AcknowledgementsMarilyn Carr, international consultant on gender, technology, rural enterprise and poverty reduction, wrote this book in collaboration with Maria Hartl, technical adviser for gender and social equity in the IFAD Technical Advisory Division.
This publication is based on the authors contribution on labour-saving technologies and practices in the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook which was jointly produced by the World Bank, FAO and IFAD (2008).
The following people reviewed the content: Maria E. Fernandez (Center for the Integration of Research and Action, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA), Clare Bishop-Sambrook (international consultant) and Ira Matuschke (University of Hohenheim, Germany).
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The designations employed here and the presentation of material do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IFAD concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The designations developed and developing countries are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.
AcronymsAT appropriate technology
BRAC Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee
CA conservation agriculture
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services
GRTI Gender and Rural Transport Initiative
ICT information and communications technology
IEA International Energy Agency
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
ILO International Labour Organization
IRRI International Rice Research Institute
ITDG Intermediate Technology Development Group
LPG liquid petroleum gas
MDG Millennium Development Goal
MHP micro-hydro power
MSSRF M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
NGO non-governmental organization
NTAE non-traditional agricultural export
TRIPS trade-related intellectual property rights
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women
WUA water user association