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Women, agriculture and ICTs

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Quick Read

  • Gender imbalance exists with women and girls most affected
  • Technology, ICTs in particular, promise to leverage farming practices
  • Examples of projects where ICTs have been used by women in agriculture

In most developing country due to rural urban migration and other reasons, agriculture is depleted of the needed workforce. In essence, the result is that many smallholder farmers have more women and girls remaining on the farms providing bulk of the labour force.

At the higher level of development, it has been acknowledged that gender inequality persists worldwide, and this normally deprive women and girls their basic rights and opportunities (read about the Sustainable Development Goal 5). 

Against this background, can technology in general and ICTs help leverage the inequality? In agriculture how are women using technology to improve their farming practices?

According to the USAID, in low and middle income countries, over 1.7 billion women do not own mobile phones. In cases where they do, it was discovered they were less likely to make the full use of their full suite of services.

There is a need to improve women access to technology as there are in the village cell level and in most cases within the fields.  A more robust discussion on how to reduce the digital equality is presented by the EQUALS Global Partnership here . In most cases women face lack of access to infrastructure, poor infrastructure, lack of access to financial resources, and lack of required knowledge to use the new technologies.

Women and ICTs in agriculture

There are a number of cases of women using ICTs in agriculture to change their agricultural practices.

  1. The first that comes to my mind is the ‘Buy from Women” project by the UN Women in Rwanda. This project sought to create a mobile enabled platform that will connect women farmers to information, finance and markets. Through this initiative women the farmers can have a 360 degree of the entire agri-business lifecycle. read more here  
  2. The second example is the effective use of mobile phones to access weather related information. IRIN recently published a video from Kenya where women farmers are using smart phones to watch weather trends. This information allows them to know when to sow their seeds, when to harvest – especially with a yield that needs to be dried. The importance of weather information to harvest decision is captured in this sentence, - “When the difference between profit and loss depends on sunshine, an accurate forecast is essential” (IRIN)

Watch the video below

Source: IRIN

  1. The last example is that of the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) which initiated a project to improve access to information through the use of ICTs by rural women in Apac District located in Northern Uganda.  In that case women accessed needed information on markets and improved farming methods through the use of mobile phones, internet and radios. read about the case here 

These example serve to demonstrate that if ICTs are extended to women in smallholder farms this can improve their farming practices and leverage the inequalities that are inherent in society.

Do you have a project that focuses on women and empowers them with ICTs in agriculture? If you do kindly share with us…