Smart Tech Will Only Work for Women When the Fundamentals for Its Uptake Are in Place

Tanzanian ICT entrepreneur, Rose Funja, shows off one of the
drones she uses as a key tool in her data mapping business. Credit:
Busani Bafana/IPS

By Ibrahim Thiaw
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 7 2019 (IPS)

Science and technology offer exciting pathways for rural women
to tackle the challenges they face daily. Innovative solutions for
rural women can, for example, reduce their workload, raise food
production and increase their participation in the paid labour
market. But even the very best innovative, gender-appropriate
technology makes no sense without access to other critical
resources, especially secure land rights, which women in rural
areas need to flourish.

Land degradation and drought affect, at least, 169 countries.
The poorest rural communities experience the severest impacts. For
instance, women in areas affected by desertification, easily spend
four times longer each day collecting water, fuelwood and fodder.
Moreover, these impacts have very different effects on men and
women. In the parts of Eritrea impacted most by desertification,
for example, the working hours for women exceed those of men by up
to 30 hours per week.

Clearly, poor rural women would benefit the most from new ways
of working on the land. Therefore, technology and innovation must
benefit women and men equally for it to work well for society. Even
more so at a time when technology is becoming critical to manage
the growing threats of desertification, land degradation and
drought. In Turkey, for instance,
farmers can get information on when to plant in real time, using an
application installed on a mobile phone
.1

However, in most part of the world, the
adoption rates of technology are especially low among rural
women
, possibly because very often technologies are not
developed with rural women land users in mind.2
For example,
a wheelbarrow can reduce the time spent on water transport by 60
percent. But its weight and bulk makes it physically difficult for
most African women to use
.3

The demand for technology design that meets rural women’s
specific needs is great. But developing appropriate technology is
not enough, if the pre-requisites for technology uptake, in
particular access to land, credit and education, are not in
place.4 Today, a web of laws and customs in half
the countries on the planet5 undermine women’s
ability to own, manage, and inherit the land they farm.

In nearly many developing countries, laws do not guarantee the
same inheritance rights for women and men.6 In
many more countries, with gender equitable laws, local customs and
practices that leave widows landless are tolerated. For instance,
a
2011 study carried out in Zambia
shows that when a male head of
household dies, the widow only gets, on average, one-third of the
area she farmed before. The impact of such changes on the world’s
roughly
258 million widows and the 584 million children who depend on them
is significant
.8 It leaves us all worse
off.

Globally,
women own less land and have less secure rights over land than
men
.9 Secure access to land increases
women’s economic security, but it has far greater benefits for
society more generally. Women who own or inherit land also control
the decisions that impact their land, such as the uptake of new
technology.

A
study in Rwanda
shows that recipients of land certificates are
twice as likely to increase their investment in soil conservation
relative to others. And, if women got formal land rights, they were
more likely to engage in soil conservation.10
Initiatives that benefit rural women do not stop at the household
or local levels. At scale, such investments have a huge global
impact.

If women all over the world had the same access as men to
resources for agricultural production, they could increase yields
on their farms by 20 to 30 percent. This could raise the total
agricultural output in developing countries substantially at
national scales, and reduce the
number of undernourished people in the world by 12 to 17
percent
.11

If we want to tackle the underlying causes of gender inequality,
to build smart and innovate for change, then technology is good.
Innovative, gender appropriate technology is better. But these will
have little impact if the pre-requisites for its uptake by women,
in particular access to land, credit and education, are
non-existent.
—–

1 Reuters, 2015, article by Manipadma Jena.
Turkey’s plan to help farmers adapt to climate change? Ask a
tablet.
https://www.reuters.com/article/turkey-climatechange-technology/turkeys-plan-to-help-farmers-adapt-to-climate-change-ask-a-tablet-idUSL8N12P08R20151026
2 Theis, Sophie et al. (2018): What happens after
technology adoption? Gendered aspects of small-scale irrigation
technologies in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. Agricultural and
Human Values,
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-018-9862-8
3 Ashby, Jacqueline et al ( n.d.) Investing in
Women as Drivers of Agricultural Growth, p.3,
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/webexecutivesummaryARD_GiA_InvstInWomen_8Pg_web.pdf
4 FAO/IFPRI (2014): Gender specific approaches,
rural institutions, and technological innovations, p. 13 et seq, p.
41.
5 Huyer, Sophia, 2016: Closing the Gender Gap in
Agriculture, Gender, Technology and Development 20(2) 105–116, p.
108.
6 Huyer, Sophia, 2016: Closing the Gender Gap in
Agriculture, Gender, Technology and Development 20(2) 105–116, p.
108.
7 Chapoto, Antony et al. (2011): Widows’ Land
Security in the Era of HIV/AIDS: Panel Survey Evidence from
Zambia,” Economic Development and Cultural Change 59, no. 3
511-547,
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/658346
8 Coughenour Betancourt Amy (2018): The Green
Revolution reboot: Women’s land rights,
https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-the-green-revolution-reboot-women-s-land-rights-93003
9 UN WOMEN, Facts & Figures,
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/commission-on-the-status-of-women-2012/facts-and-figures.
10 Ali, D.A. et al (2011): Environmental and
Gender Impacts of Land Tenure Regularization in Africa: Pilot
Evidence from Rwanda. 28 pp. Sanjak, Jolyne (2018): Women’s Land
Rights Can Help Grow Food Security,
https://www.landesa.org/womens-land-rights-can-help-grow-food-security-blog/.
11 FAO (2011): Closing the gender gap in
agriculture,
http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/52011/icode/.

The post
Smart Tech Will Only Work for Women When the Fundamentals for Its
Uptake Are in Place
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ibrahim Thiaw is Under-Secretary General of the
United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification.

The post
Smart Tech Will Only Work for Women When the Fundamentals for Its
Uptake Are in Place
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Smart Tech Will Only Work for Women When the Fundamentals for Its Uptake Are in Place