, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 291–300 | Cite as

Rural women and technology in South Africa: Case studies from KwaZulu-Natal Province

  • Urmilla Bob


This article contributes to a greater understanding of the linkages between women's roles, responsibilities and their use of technology in poor rural communities. The ways in which poor rural women conceptualize technology is examined. Furthermore, how they use their knowledge and skills to develop, modify and adapt the techniques and technical processes in which they are involved are also explored. Additionally, the links between indigenous and modern technologies in relation to gender considerations in poor rural contexts are examined. This article draws from findings of primary research undertaken in two marginalized rural communities in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. The study reveals that the use of technologies are highly gendered and differentiated among women. Poor rural women utilize a range of technologies in both productive and reproductive activities which are central to their livelihood strategies, especially at the household level. Furthermore, although women are adapting and innovating technologies their expertise remains largely unrecognized. A range of problems and constraints exist which limit women's access to and use of technologies. A key tension identified in the study is that between the use of locally-based, indigenous technologies and modern, external technologies.

locally-based/indigenous knowledge poor rural women technology 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Urmilla Bob
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa (

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