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Emancipation of women in developing countries
In developing countries, women often come below men on the social ladder, despite their often much higher activity level. Often, due to the local gender role, it is expected of them to run the entire household (cooking, washing, ironing, doing the dishes, ...) whereas men hardly have any tasks at all..
As such, for resource-poor women the working day stretches from dawn to long after dark. The pressures on women’s time are heavy, cooking and fuel collection are additional tasks to this yet some of the most arduous they are required of doing.
As fuel shortages make extra demands on time and energy, women are driven to various coping strategies More time spent collecting fuel can mean less time growing or preparing food so that quality and quantity of food diminish. Malnourished women become more vulnerable to smoke pollution which damage their lungs, eyes, children and unborn babies. But improved stoves can cook faster and burn fuel more efficiently, which lowers levels of exposure to biomass smoke and releases time for other activities. Adapting kitchen design can also help remove smoke from the cooking area.
Greater technology choice can help to emancipate women from drudgery and give them more control over precious resources. In some places cooking is a particularly time-consuming task, so an improved stove which cooks faster may be a source of delight. Elsewhere, fuel management strategies by women save more fuel than carefully planned stove programmes. Stove technologists can offer choices, but decisions about household energy technologies should be left in the hands of women, the real experts on cooking.