Gender and Innovation in South Asia
Women in South Asia have a great balancing act to perform, what with the dual burden of taking care of their homes and families and working outside the home or running a business. For them, mobility, family, transportation, financing, limited opportunities for social interactive learning and their tendency to be more risk-averse are some of the significant stumbling-blocks to innovation. In business women face gender bias in recruitment, sexual harassment in the workplace, and income inequality, and then bump into the the glass ceiling as they advance in their career. Womenâ€™s role as innovators could be enhanced through appropriate training, flexible work arrangements, childcare facilities and parental leave, support from incubators set up specifically for technologies that aid women, social and business networks, improved public transportation, and through a process of enabling social, health and political conditions that favour women. Since agriculture is increasingly feminised in South Asia, we need laws that will strengthen womenâ€™s rights to land and water. The focus must be on the development of agricultural tools and technologies designed for easy use by women, access to credit, information systems and value chains from which women are often excluded, increased access and support for participation in farmersâ€™ collectives and cooperatives which will improve their bargaining power and reduce transaction costs.
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