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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.
Adaptation and Resilience Building
15 November 2019
01 January 1970
Geeta Bhattarai Bastakoti
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 organized a one-day regional consultation meeting to discuss improving tools, technologies, and services that can mitigate farm women’s drudgery in the mountains.
The key objectives were:
The regional consultation was attended by 20 participants from agriculture research organizations; academic institutions; government and non-government organizations; and international organizations based in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Thailand.
The key outcome from the consultation was an identified need for a knowledge and information sharing platform on appropriate tools, technologies and services in the region and an identified need for clear markers for assessing any tool, technology and service as women-friendly. (A detailed report is forthcoming.)