Session FT 1.17
Gender mainstreaming and water for growth and development: Diversity as an agent of change
Gender and Water Alliance (GWA)
Water and Sanitation Program - Latin America and the Caribbean (WSP-LAC)
Metropolis - Women (and local Governance) International Network's Regional Antenna
We know that women, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, are responsible for collecting, transporting and using water for daily needs. As a consequence, women are essential partners in water management, preservation, use, and disposal. “Gender mainstreaming” is about involving women as well as men in all aspects of the planning, implementation and monitoring of water policies and programmes at all levels and in all contexts.
This session explored how a gender focus in water management furthers the goals of establishing world water security and reducing economic and social vulnerability. The presentation of local actions was followed by reflections from an expert panel, open discussion and questions. The session concluded with presentation by the Chair of the key lessons and action points emerging from presentations and discussion.
Through case studies, expert reflections and discussion, the session explored the concept and practicalities of gender mainstreaming. This included examples of actions women have initiated at local levels; ways of mainstreaming gender in the content and implementation of national water plans; advocacy and capacity building; and results-oriented partnerships with stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels.
Lessons learned and key messages
Gender is about women and men - both have an important contribution to make to water-related management and development
Gender issues are centrally important to all water sectors, urban as well as rural communities and to water as a human right: it is important for sectors to work together, learn from each other, and work on resolving conflicts in access to water and land
Importance of advocacy and capacity building (lobbying, training, guidelines and tools, networking, exchanging experiences, meeting with local women) – for policy makers and planners– to enable them to understand why gender mainstreaming is critical, and how to put it into practice
Importance of gender sensitive water management processes – affirmative action/quotas on women in water management and water engineering - and women’s participation at all levels of decision making and implementation
Importance of gender equality in national policy and legal frameworks, backed up with clear implementation plans; gender-related, sex-disaggregated monitoring targets and indicators; and adequate finances and staffing
Local women’s active involvement in needs analysis, decision making on location and design of water facilities, technician roles, management and maintenance is central to promoting appropriate, effective and sustainable water services. These processes are also empowering and confidence building for women and have wider personal and community benefits.
Orientations for action
The importance of women‘s involvement in community level water supply is well known (although implementation of verbal commitments needs to be improved).
The session highlighted the particular importance of complementary gender mainstreaming at national and local government levels. This requires gender mainstreaming in national IWRM policies and plans; resources to back up policy commitments; staff capacity building; and gender-related targets and indicators.
Local Actions presented
Mainstreaming gender perspective in Integrated Water Resources Management Policies: Brazil case study
Ninon Machado, Instituto de Pesquisas Avançadas em Economia e Meio Ambiente, Instituto Ipanema, Brazil
This local action presented the experience of mainstreaming gender into the National Policy on Water Resource Management in Brazil. The country went through a very open and democratic process to prepare the policy involving consultations with stakeholders – women and men – at all levels. Gender and Water Alliance members were involved in advocacy, capacity building and participatory planning processes, and were successful in ensuring that gender was mainstreamed into the national policy. The challenge is now to ensure that the policy is implemented effectively.
Gender Mainstreaming in the Water Sector in South Africa
Barbara Schreiner, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South Africa
As part of the reconstruction of a democratic South Africa, gender equality is enshrined in the law. This local action described the ways in which this principle has affected national water sector policy and implementation. The government Water Department has a Gender Policy; there are quotas for women’s participation in all structures; sex disaggregated data is routinely collected; gender-related targets are set and staff are held accountable for meeting them; gender training and capacity building has taken place at all levels. Significant progress has been made at community level but challenges remain at the national level.
Gender Intermediation in Uboma, Nigeria: A model for sustainable access to clean water for the rural poor
Joachim Ibeziako Ezeji, Rural Africa Water Development project, Nigeria
This local action described a community level project in rural Nigeria. A Reliable, Accessible, Adequate and Cost-effective (RAAC) water supply system was introduced in a rural community. This made use of the existing borehole and introduced cheap sand-filters at household level. Women were trained in water management and took over management of the borehole. This proved to be a very effective strategy for promoting local ownership, efficient management and establishing a sustainable water service.
The Blue Agenda of Women, Mexico
Karla Priego, Red de Genero y Medio Ambiente (RGEMA)
This local action described the work of the Mexican Gender and Environment Network. They held 8 workshops throughout Mexico, involving more than 400 women, to discuss the situation of women and water. The workshops focused on a participatory analysis of needs, problems, strategies, and political advocacy for change. This process resulted in the development of the “Blue Agenda”, which calls on the Mexican Government to open up space for dialogue with women on water issues. The “Blue Agenda” highlights issues relating to water for domestic purposes, irrigation and environmental protection, and makes a strong connection between land rights and access to water.
Gender in multiple-use water services
Barbara van Koppen, IWMI, South Africa
This presentation explained a new approach to the management of water services, focusing on multiple uses and users. The new ‘multiple-use water services approach’ (‘mus’), takes poor women’s and men’s multiple water needs and integrated livelihoods as the starting point, and explicitly makes no distinction between the use of water for domestic and productive purposes. It strives to overcome compartmentalised planning within the water sector. By considering domestic and productive uses of water together, both women and men are involved in decision making and prioritisation on the use of water for all purposes.
Experiencia de la comunidad Altos de Menga en la operación de sistemas comunitarios de saneamiento con enfoque de género en sectores peri urbanos en Colombia
Maria Lilly Marin de Jaramillo, Altos de Menga, Cali
This local action described a project initiated by women in their own community. Faced with a problem of grossly inadequate sanitation facilities, the women constructed their own sewerage system which they continue to operate and manage themselves. The women demonstrated the importance of strong personal motivation in achieving their aim. Additionally they spoke of the wider benefits gained from this experience in terms of increased self confidence and esteem and the women’s increased belief in their ability to solve problems themselves.
Las Mujeres y la Pluviometría de la cuenca alta del Noroeste de la República Argentina
Hebe Barber, Hydraulic Civil Engineer of National University of Tucuman, Argentina
This local action described the ways in which poor rural women in Coya, Argentina have been trained in the maintenance and use of rain water gauges. Women and men are employed by the local water authority to collect rain-water measurement data to assist the engineers in water management. This action has at the same time assisted the effective management of scarce local water resources, provided employment for local women and men, and enabled women to gain respect and status in the local community.