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Integrating Gender in Stove Design and Promotion

2015-10-27 12:50:08

From the Lab to the Field and Back
Guidance Note on Gender Integration
Social Context, Gender, and User Needs in the Design and Promotion of Clean Stoves in Indonesia

Despite the potential positive impacts of clean stoves on biomass users’ health and the environment, the sustained use of clean stoves remains low in Indonesia and elsewhere. To enhance the potential for large-scale adoption, the CSI is experimenting with approaches that integrate social and gender dimensions into testing, marketing, and promotion of clean stoves.

Field work conduced in Indonesia between 2012 and 2014, followed by an experimental social assessment of improved stoves conducted in 2014 and 2015, have produced a level of understanding of the social and gender aspects that may affect the adoption of clean stoves in Indonesia. Insights into the division of labor as it relates to the cooking and fuel systems and control over decision-making in the household have also served to provide a preliminary assessment of how clean stoves improve women’s lives.

Gender Relations in the Cooking-Fuel System in Indonesia

Indonesia is a diverse country, and its cuisine reflects that diversity. Nonetheless, the fieldwork in two very disparate areas (Java and Sumba Island) found important similarities. For example, a meal is generally composed of four elements (vegetables, rice, fish, meat or tofu/tempeh, and a chili sauce). These dishes require heat outputs from very high to very low for boiling, simmering, and deep- or stir-frying. To penetrate this market, stoves will have to achieve at least some of these variations in output. Furthermore, changes in temperature have to be achieved rapidly in order for the dishes to be cooked properly.

Another similarity between Java and Sumba Island is the way in which people integrate cooking into their daily tasks. A long cooking session involving all elements of a meal occurs once daily, with leftovers being reheated once or twice for the other meals. The availability of time determines when the long cooking session takes place. Some women participating in our exploratory study indicated that cooking must be finished by 6:00 am so that children can get to school. Women who have accessed the paid labor market cook in the evenings,when they have more time, storing the food for the next day.

Some similarities were also found in relation to gender roles. Tickamyer and Kusujiarti (2012) analyzed gender relations in Java within a larger framework of social relations based on two key elements: hierarchy and equilibrium. Javanese society is highly hierarchical, and individuals assume the roles and responsibilities expected of them according to their status, predetermined obligations, and innate nature, all of which must be followed in order to maintain equilibrium. Maleness is traditionally seen as powerful and dominant, while womanhood has been associated with the responsibilities for motherhood and for the husband—the “mother-wife” or Ibu. This view of women as a nurturer of family and husband is central to understanding gender practices that permeate women’s lives. In Sumba, a traditional patrilineal society, the concepts of hierarchy and equilibrium are also present. In both areas,women’s domain is the domestic space, and cooking for the household falls squarely within their realm of responsibility.

Rapid economic changes in the country over the past decades, including women’s inclusion in the labor market, have not fundamentally challenged gender roles. The result is the disconnection between women’s actual economic contribution and the perception of women’s work outside the home as secondary to their main mother-wife tasks (Niehof 1998).

To a great extent, women have continued to assume primary responsibility for household chores, including cooking and related activities—now in addition to productive/economic activities.

Our observations of gender roles as they relate to fuel and stoves have nonetheless identified areas where men are also involved. For example, collecting firewood is a task performed by both men and women. It is not considered arduous. Chopping, on the other hand, is considered hard work and is usually dealt with by adult males, who prepare the wood for storage.

Women do chop the wood further at the point of use, if necessary. We have already indicated the predominant role of women as primary cooks, but we also found that in rural areas where large homemade traditional stoves are still the norm, it is men who build and repair them, and stove building is a special traditional responsibility.
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