In addition to balancing a variety of tasks related to crop and livestock production, wage employment and child care, rural women spend a large amount of time on additional household obligations such as food preparation and collecting firewood and water. These occupy a large amount of their time and limit participation in more productive activities. Many of these tasks could be made much less onerous and time-consuming through the adoption of simple technologies:
- Water sources in villages can significantly reduce the time spent by women and girls fetching water,1 and water projects that meet multiple livelihood objectives and take gender issues properly into account are more likely to be sustainable.2
- Fuel-efficient stoves can reduce firewood requirements by 40–60 percent,3 in addition to reducing indoor pollution and the time required for cooking. Locally manufactured stoves can also provide income-earning opportunities for rural artisans. Woodlots, agroforestry and improved fallows can further reduce the time spent in collecting firewood by bringing the sources of firewood closer to the home.
Appropriate farm tools, improved crops, integrated pest management techniques, conservation agriculture, biological nitrogen fixation and other context-specific technologies should also be targeted for development and for enhanced access by women. Conducting baseline surveys of households and communities before new technologies are introduced may help predict how men and women will be affected by them.4 Greater involvement of women in agricultural research and higher education could also enhance the development of female-friendly technology.