Mitigating drudgery for farm women in the mountains through improved tools, technologies, and services



The pace at which technology and innovations are advancing worldwide is remarkable. But how these technologies take into account women’s needs, the nature of women’s work, and contextual settings is quite questionable. It is noticeable that compared with women, men are in a position to take advantage of and accrue higher benefits from technological change across all sectors. In many developing countries, the introduction of efficient and smart technologies seems to have lent little respite to women's physical labour. This is either because technologies and innovations have not catered to women’s particular needs, or because they are inaccessible or unaffordable.

All this is taking place in a larger context where environmental factors such as climate change and climate-induced disasters, coupled with economic factors such as income and employment, have steered the increase in the outmigration of men in mountainous regions. Consequently, on the one hand, this has opened up women’s opportunities for exposure and wider engagement in the roles that men performed, but it has also compelled women to take on additional tasks besides performing their traditional gender roles. The unpaid roles of women in tasks related to agriculture, water, livestock, food, care, and communal activities are often unaccounted for and invisible. These added roles are strenuous and tedious not only owing to women’s limited access to proper tools, technologies, and services but also because of the limited capacity and knowledge possessed by women to handle these technologies. 

Existing outreach and extension services too fail to target and reach women with information and knowledge. As a result, women continue to use labour-intensive tools and technologies, and this practice is further entrenched by social norms that prominently influence women’s access to technologies and their use. Furthermore, masculine and feminine norms associated with gender roles often amplify gender gaps and inequities. To ensure and enhance women’s access to and use of technologies in farming communities, it is necessary that frontier technology is able to address women’s needs, priorities, and preferences. Women-friendly technologies can be very effective in transforming gender relations and reducing inequalities.

Against this backdrop, ICIMOD is organizing a one-day consultation meeting to discuss improving tools, technologies, and services that can mitigate farm women’s drudgery in the mountains.


We hope to have productive discussions around the following questions: 

1. What are the existing mechanisms, technologies, and programmes that reduce drudgery for women and increase their work efficiency?

2. Who are the key stakeholders in the region? 

3. What are the barriers and opportunities in introducing customized technologies to meet the needs of female agricultural workers?

4. What are the prospective areas and sectors for sustainable interventions, and what roles should different stakeholders play to ensure that more women-friendly technologies and services are introduced and made accessible for use by women?

At the end of the day-long consultation meeting, we hope to come up with recommendations for an action plan to reduce drudgery among women in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Expected participants and audiences include agriculture research organizations; academic institutions; government and non-government organizations; and international organizations based in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal.