Tools for Women’s Empowerment? The Case of the Forage Chopper for Smallholder Dairy Farmers in Uganda
123 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2012
Date Written: December 19, 2011
In agriculture-based countries, development efforts to reduce rural poverty have prioritized labor saving technologies in reducing household labor requirements. Women have been specifically targeted in the development and dissemination of these technologies because they are central to overcoming rural poverty. However, the combined effects of social and technical change poses a bigger challenge to an understanding of the dynamics of gender relations, making it difficult to predict a priori what the dynamics of technology adoption will be within households and communities. To produce a full account of technology, there is need to move a step further from just looking at the social constructivism of technology approach to the approach focusing on technology-in-use. In this paper such an approach is applied to an animal forage processing technology in Uganda. The forage chopper was introduced among smallholder dairy farmers in Masaka district as a means of empowering women. It was assumed that the technology will free their labor for more income generating activities. However, like most agricultural engineering technologies, the impact of the forage chopper was not evaluated from a gender perspective for the gender-related effects of social and technical change. With a technographic approach, this study explored how the technology consolidated or transformed existing gender relations. The study showed that women’s activities are integrated into wider wholes and that is where technology development processes need to focus to benefit from insights from sociology of technology and STS to better hit women’s empowerment strategy.
Keywords: labor saving tools, women's empowerment, forage chopper, zero grazing
JEL Classification: Q00, Q16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation