Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Drudgery, Time Poverty, and Marketing Agricultural Technology to Women

Originally posted on Feed The Future Partnering for Innovation Blog by Tom Klotzbach, CEO of Fintrac, Inc.

drudg●er●y: hard, tedious, menial and backbreaking work

time pov●er●ty: working long hours and having no choice to do otherwise

Imagine being a “typical woman” in a farm household. You’d be responsible for not only household duties from child rearing to preparing meals and fetching water and fuel, but also for major, sometimes primary, contributions to the most laborious and time-consuming farm work. In agricultural work alone, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend an average of 125% of the time that men spend on production labor each day, and that’s before you even count the household and childcare responsibilities that women shoulder (World Bank 2006). Rural women in Rwanda, for instance, work an estimated 14-17 hours a day (African Development Bank 2008). While varying across geographic areas, women in male-headed rural households typically have primary production responsibility for planting, weeding, harvesting, and most postharvest tasks. For all of these areas, there are already proven technologies that reduce labor requirements. Technologies that reduce the time requirements for usual farm tasks, particularly backbreaking ones, can create a huge positive impact for the efficiency and productivity of women, positively contributing to the food security of the household and the community. 

The FAO estimates that total agricultural output in developing countries could increase by as much as 4% and the total number of undernourished people could decrease by as much as 17% if women were given equal assets to resources (including time, knowledge, assets, and inputs) as men. That means we could reduce the total number of undernourished people in the world by 150 million (FAO). So what does this mean for designing, adapting, and marketing technology to women?

To read Partnering for Innovation's answers to this question, visit the original post.

The Upendo Women Group harvests colored pepper in a greenhouse in Lushoto district, Tanga region of Tanzania.