A couple weeks ago, we moved from New Delhi to a beautiful village, Naddi, near the city of Dharamshala in northern India. Here, we are partnering with a social enterprise, EduCARE India, which focuses on facilitating community led sustainable development in rural areas, like Naddi.
After spending the first week getting settled, soaking in the vastness of the mountains around us, and meeting some of the community members here, we worked with EduCARE to define a challenge area.
How might we reduce the amount of time women in rural communities spend on unpaid (household) work so that they can contribute more time to their personal aspirations, economic well-being of their households, and sustainable development of their communities?
Globally, women do three times more of the world’s unpaid work than men. This means women have less of an opportunity to join the labor force, contribute to community development, and address their personal needs. While men spend more time working for money, women take on the bulk of household labor like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and childcare – all tasks that are unpaid.
This is a problem – while unpaid work is essential for households and societies to function, its disproportionate allocation can be detrimental to women’s economic and social advancement. We leave behind countless opportunities when women aren’t able to fulfill their potential. With an extra hour, or maybe three, a woman may choose to go visit a doctor, start a business, spend more time on her school work, or take up paid work.
This project is about exploring the opportunities we have to reduce the amount of time women in rural areas spend on unpaid work in favor of activities that enable them to invest in themselves, their families, and their communities. Just as importantly, this project aims to go beyond creating extra time, to encompass a study of the systems, facilities, and environments that must exist for women to productively channel their energies into activities that support increased health and prosperity.
We will spend the next three months living here in Naddi, immersing ourselves in the local culture. We will conduct ethnographic, participatory, and evaluative research to better understand the challenge. After mapping out the entire system, we’ll identify key opportunity areas, and define a narrowed problem statement.
Thanks for welcoming us here, Naddi! Excited for the next three months of chats over chai.