Time is the domain that enables success in all other domains, and so is the highest priority for method development. In many parts of the developing world, women spend many hours each day performing tasks such as gathering fuel wood or collecting water. When the introduction of technology or new practices frees women from these physically demanding and time-consuming tasks, women have more time to care for their own health, earn cash income, cultivate gardens and new crops, improve their knowledge and education and participate in the enhancement of their communities.
In the developed world, the availability of clothes washing machines freed women from the time-consuming chore of hand laundering clothing. The W+ seeks to provide similar time relief to women, who can then devote more time toward improving their lives in other ways.
To achieve the goals of this method, projects need to document an increase in women’s discretionary time, by measuring shifts in the use of time away from lower-value activities toward higher-value activities. This can be accomplished through the use of time-saving technologies and tools, including; tractors, biogas digesters, improved cook stoves, water pumps and storage facilities. The methodology will provide direction and guidance on survey techniques, culturally appropriate stakeholder engagement and appropriate degrees of certainty and detail.
Time is the key. Many organizations support women’s entrepreneurship, education, maternal health, and food security in the developing world. But, until women are freed from the necessary chores that consume so much time, they will make little progress in other areas. By addressing “time poverty” through new technologies and practices, particularly through additional benefits (such as prevention of deforestation, improved air quality and health), the W+ Time methodology unlocks women’s potential.