Reducing rural women’s domestic workload through labour-saving technologies and practices toolkit

One of the three strategic objectives of the IFAD Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment is “to achieve a more equitable balance in workloads and in the sharing of economic and social benefits”.

Rural women of all ages spend much of their day engaged in domestic chores, including collecting water and firewood, processing and preparing food, travelling and transporting, and caregiving.

These tasks are unpaid and restrict a woman’s time and mobility. Moreover, the drudgery can cause poor health and nutrition for a woman’s entire family, in particular infants and young children. These domestic chores are a major constraint to the ability of smallholder farmers to increase agricultural productivity and achieve food and nutrition security.

Labour-saving technologies and practices promote inclusive development by reducing the domestic workload and freeing up time to perform productive tasks, to participate in decision-making processes and development opportunities, and to enjoy more leisure time. They also make rural areas more attractive places for younger people to reside. When the domestic workload is reduced, women are the principal beneficiaries but men also benefit, depending on the extent to which they perform these tasks.

The Reducing rural women’s domestic workload toolkit is composed as follows:

Teaser describes why labour-saving technologies and practices are needed to reduce women’s domestic workload and the benefits to be gained, with examples from IFAD-supported projects.

How To Do note offers practical guidance to help practitioners address this issue in the design and implementation of projects. It also provides details on proven labour-saving technologies and practices and gives key information sources.

Lessons Learned provides lessons learned from a study on the impact that IFAD water investments had on the time saved by households in collecting water, with a gender lens. It also gives recommendations for IFAD project design and implementation to improve the outcomes of labour-saving water investments.

Compendium showcases labour-saving technologies that were exhibited at the Sharefair on technologies and innovations for rural women on “Improving Food Security, Nutrition and Productive Family Farming in Eastern and Southern Africa”, held in Nairobi on 15-17 October 2014.