Women and technology in the marginalized rural communities : case studies from Kwazulu-Natal.
Generally, rural women have lesser access to technologies that are vital in progressing with their tasks due to gender dimensions linked to patriarchy that were perpetuated by apartheid, which promoted male migration and created female subordination. This created invisibility of women's major role as food producers. Although South Africa is democratic, rural households are still far behind in terms of development. Norms and values in most traditional societies sideline women and increase the burden of work that they normally have. Duties performed by rural women demand physical energy and is generally time consuming Access to appropriate technologies might assist in reducing energy and lime spent unwisely. Traditional norms encourage male superiority and sociocultural barriers give women limited access to certain assets such as livestock, land, credit and their decision making power is very little compared to male counterparts. This has serious implications on women's lives because these aspects are most important in meeting life challenges they face on a daily basis. Women's involvement in both productive and reproductive tasks shows that they are concerned about the lives of their families together with the community in which they live. They modify used objects in order to produce subsistence. Surplus obtained from their yields plays a vital role in generating income to sustain their livelihoods. Access to technologies might reduce time spent on reproductive tasks and diverted to produce more. This study is intended to contribute to a greater understanding and the recognition of the linkages between women's roles, responsibilities, knowledge and their participation in rural economic development, particularly looking at their use of technology. A critical concern raised in this study is whether women's knowledge of and experience with technology are adequately incorporated in development debates and initiatives, especially in an environment where the decision-makers tend to he male. The main findings of the study are that rural women utilize a range of technologies, they are involved in innovating and adapting technologies and they experience a variety of problems in relation to accessing, maintaining and using technologies at the household and community levels.