Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

Counting the hours: The challenges of measuring time use

In July 2017, the World Bank released three methodological working papers discussing the challenges of measuring key areas of women’s empowerment, including time use, women’s agency, and ownership, control, and use of assets. This blog highlights one of these papers, “Measuring time use in development settings,” written by A4NH researchers Greg SeymourHazel Malapit, and Agnes Quisumbing.

Research shows that involving women in agriculture can improve household nutrition. When they are involved in farming, women have more control over food and income, which they are more likely than men to use to feed their families. However, if women spend more time on agriculture, they may have less time for tasks like preparing food, caring for children, and hygiene, which are also important for their families’ health and nutrition. So, successful nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions must carefully consider both women’s and men’s time use.Having time to earn income and care for oneself and one’s family is essential for improving well-being. However, work is often not split evenly between men and women. Women tend to do domestic work like household chores and child care, while men tend to take on income-generating activities. In fact, a 2010 UN report found that, around the world, women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic tasks and, accounting for both paid and unpaid labor, spend more time working overall than men. This time burden can hurt women by limiting their access to paid work and education, as well as time for leisure, self-care, and social activities.

Unfortunately, measuring time use is not easy. In their paper, “Measuring time use in development settings,” Greg SeymourHazel Malapit, and Agnes Quisumbing discuss the challenges of feasibly and accurately measuring time use in developing countries. They use data from Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) surveys in Bangladesh and Uganda to compare the most commonly used methods of data collection.

To read the full blog post on the A4NH website, click here

Photo credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

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