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The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the

views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.

Bernadette P. Resurreccin, Ph.D


Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Associate Professor (adjunct), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) February 2014

Whats being said?


Women are important leaders in water governance due to their domestic roles Women should participate in water resource management Women are key stakeholders in water management Women are primary managers of water resources because of their natural interest in the domestic care of their households

Some initiatives in gender mainstreaming and harnessing womens leadership


In program components: Integrated resource management: Women in poverty alleviation program components (e.g., micro-credit, enterprises - dam resettlement project in Pa Sak River Basin, Thailand; Second Red River Basin Project, Vietnam) In building new community institutions: Participatory resource management for sustainable use of resources : Women are elected as leaders or members of newly formed local institutions (e.g., Tonle Sap [Cambodia] community fisheries; water user associations in Decentralized Irrigation Development and Management Sector Project, Lao PDR/ADB) In resource regeneration and management: Women as chief targets of intervention: Women mobilized for leadership roles in water resource management (e.g., water management in the Mekong Delta Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Vietnam) In capacity building: Women are mobilized for new skills: in farmer field schools, cottage industries and home economics (e.g., weaving skills in a dam resettlement project in Pa Sak River Basin, Thailand)

However despite efforts to boost womens leadership and gender mainstreamimg efforts:

the extent of change in womens lives does not match the discursive landslide of gender mainstreaming in development . . . (Cornwall and Whitehead, 2007)
Womens leadership in the water sector remains elusive

Where is project/program thinking coming from?


Ecofeminist thinking: women are culturally close to nature (ideological; feminine principle; essentialist) Women-Environment-Development (WED) thinking: women are close to nature due to their roles in household care Efficiency goals: Womens involvement can boost productivity, help shoulder costs of O&M through their non-farm incomes (instrumentalist) Poverty reduction goals: women are victims of poverty; therefore the goal is to reduce poverty (class only, not gender inequalities)

What are the (possible) outcomes?


Participatory exclusion of women:

reproduce traditional gender inequalities (women only approach) or letting men off the hook, while women clean up the mess Water governance is added to womens already long list of caring roles Not clear whether women will benefit from their leadership roles Unpaid labor and time by women (assumes their time is infinitely elastic) Shouldering the costs and effects of leadership roles in water governance & increased privatization of water

Corrective: the need for a gender perspective, which recognizes


That women are embedded in social and power relations which programs and interventions may reproduce or overlook; That the transformatory potential lies in redressing unequal power relations simultaneously with the need to realize sustainable use of water resources That projects and programs are social processes where shifts in power may occur (e.g, powerful women may edge out less powerful women) That it is not poverty (or water stresses, dam displacement and scarcity) per se that disadvantages women, but unequal social, gender and power relations that assign women gender-specific caring tasks under conditions of water stresses That the goals of efficient water governance or poverty reduction should not be met at the expense of womens unpaid labor and time under the auspices of womens leadership

In sum: Implications on womens leadership in water governance


1. Summary of issues in the water sector
Water quality, flooding, WASH deficiencies, water scarcity in the context of disasters and climate variability Women are chiefly caretakers of affected household members Women link with support groups and systems to address water stresses Women are untapped leaders in solution-seeking measures and adaptation efforts Women themselves are adversely affected by ad hoc solutions

2.

Entry points
Institutional programs for recovery and resilience-building Public-private initiatives (e.g., water supply and community management of WASH) Apex water bodies and disaster coordinating boards Task forces to mitigate the effects of water stresses on communities Social protection measures that provide long term well-being

3. Pathways, processes and cautionary points


Build capacities for leadership, negotiation and representation Link national and sub-national levels of governance with the local as women tend to disappear as authority scales up and women leaders become token yet ineffective Women leaders should be aware that gender inequality weakens womens leadership roles and participation and thus this must be addressed. Raise awareness that water stress in not only a womans concern but everyones, thus women leaders should be backed up: dont let men off the hook, letting women clean up the mess Participation and leadership of women have significant costs to them (time, labor, resources). Without the full support of their households, their leadership roles increases their workload. Womens leadership should not be another proxy for womens added care (Prokopy, 2004)

Thank you.
babette.r@sei-international.org