In numerous rural communities, ploughing is considered to be a task that should be performed by men and cultural norms often forbid women to use a plough. For example, in most parts of Ethiopia ploughing is a cultural taboo for women. Some authors say that this taboo can be explained by cultural reasons, while others attribute it to the fact that ploughing is a labour-intensive activity that requires physical strength, and therefore, is conceived to be exclusively for men.

These restrictions heavily impact single women who manage their farms on their own, for example, because their partners migrated to urban areas for off-farm work. Not ploughing the land on time can lead to yield losses and these taboos make women dependent on men for carrying out this task.