It’s about time for women.
On an average day, globally, women and children spend 200 million hours collecting water.
Carrying water by hand is incredibly time-consuming. This is time that could be better spent on income-generating activities, caring for family members, and attending school. And this is time that is disproportionately spent by women: surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in 76 percent of households.
Unpaid and unrecognized domestic work, like carrying water, is just one example of gender inequality and time poverty. Others include differing access to education, healthcare, and government services; different pay for the same work; lack of employment opportunities; and restrictions on income and social freedoms.
Focused on inclusion
iDE’s blend of market-based solutions to poverty is especially suited to benefit women, who make up 70 percent of the agricultural labor in developing countries. A labor-saving device such as an irrigation pump can empower a female farmer to take more control of her work and life.
Gender roles and norms vary widely across the communities we work with globally. With this in mind, we are working toward integrating gender considerations throughout our process, paying special attention to not impose a western-centric idea of empowerment.
Men and boys play a critical role in this social shift, and have the potential to be powerful allies. Instead of segregation, we focus on inclusion through an effort that invites the participation of all to break down gender barriers. Additionally, iDE seeks out partnerships with gender advocacy organizations that complement our work.
Women are the key to better health & safety
Through their strong position in the home, women are also the key to creating solutions in our water and sanitation programs. Through outreach to mothers and older sisters, our WASH programs are making considerable strides in putting a toilet in every home. Toilets provide not only a healthy alternative that reduces contamination of vital water sources, but also provide additional safety and dignity for women and girls.
Better business creates equity
For example, our team in Bangladesh focuses on the role of women in resolving issues around food security. Women primarily participate in agricultural labor and duties close to the home, limiting their engagement in markets. But traditionally, women’s ability to interact in the marketplace has been extremely limited.
Working with partners in Bangladesh, we helped to create safe spaces for women to learn and build their confidence as entrepreneurs. We established value chains in which women could expand their social and economic networks by taking leadership as Farm Business Advisors. And we engaged men and women in conversations about how expanded roles for women helped increase family incomes and stability.