The opening oral presentation in the gender section this afternoon, Tuesday 20th, offered a bold statement: “being a woman farmer is like being cursed”. As a woman, and a farmer (albeit in a developed country), this topic especially intrigued me.
The main message from this session was that women in the global south are often inadvertently overburdened by work and life tasks as a result of well-intended gender equality policies. I think this rings true for women worldwide, in different ways.
A commenter from the audience recalled seeing women being given toasters and other small appliances as Mother’s Day and birthday gifts. And while these appliances made domestic life easier, it created more pressure and expectations for women to become gastronomical chefs. It seems that so many well-intended inventions and “advancements” have the unwanted result of making women’s lives more difficult.
The increase in workload occurs when women are “empowered” to step into male-dominated roles (horticulture, in this study), which in itself is a fantastic change, but are then expected to keep up with their existing household workload (eg. family and home care). The result is an unmanageable workload for these already overburdened women.
Ideally, men will step in and help to share the workload that has been traditionally carried by women. This change will admittedly take extensive education, time, and patience, as is the case with any cultural revolution.