5. Gender and water access

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this submodule, you will be able to:

  • Describe some of the key main questions of gender in the water sector
  • Define the importance of gender (along other social inequalities) in shaping equitable water access

Key Concepts

Gender, rights and responsibilities, social inequalities, intersectionality, 

This submodule provides an introduction to gender in relation to equitable access to water. It presents an introduction to gender social relations and how they matter (along other social inequalities) for equitable water access.

1.Gender and water: the basics

To get started with the topic you can take the Implicit Association Test about Gender created by Understanding Prejudice. After completing the test take a few moments to reflect about your answers and score.

Now have a look through Topics 1 and 2 here from WaterAid on Inclusive WaSH. The presentation was created by Di Kilsby (Gender and Training Advisor at International Women’s Development Agency) and Dr Juliet Willetts and Naomi Carrard (Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney) in 2011 for a webinar of The Inclusive WASH Project.


2. Panel discussion

The following clip is a recording of a gender session for an on-line course on water at IHE-Delft in 2011. In the video four experts in gender and water (Margreet Zwarteveen (WUR), Deepa Joshi (WUR),  Saskia Ivens (Gender Equality Unit of the Dutch Sustainability Unit) and Esther de Jong (Gender and Water Alliance) discuss around the following issues:

  • Gender gap in terms of rights and responsibilities in water
  • Male dominance in the water sector and expertise
  • Technocratic way of looking at water

3. Practical cases

The following two videos provide practical illustrations of the gender and water issues that have been discussed in this submodule. Watch the clips and reflect about what you have learnt in the previous sections.

The first video “Our lives… our lanes” is the result of an action research project ‘Women’s Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation in Asian Cities (2009-2011)’, a joint initiative of Jagori, Delhi and Women In Cities International, Canada with support from the International Development Research Centre, Canada. This short film highlights key issues of women’s access to essential services like water, sanitation, electricity, drainage and lack of safety for women and girls living in a mix of public-private spaces in resettlement.

The second video “Gender dimensions in land and water: Experiences from the field” (FAO, 2011) provides an overview of an FAO project in Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and East Timor that works to increase men’s and women’s security of land tenure, as well as access to water and other natural resources.

Key Readings

Key Readings

  • Crow, B., & Sultana, F. (2002). Gender, class, and access to water: Three cases in a poor and crowded delta. Society &Natural Resources, 15(8), 709-724. You can access to it from Prof. Farhana Sultana website or clicking here.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  • What is gender?
  • Why do we need to think about gender in water projects and interventions?
  • Why is gender important for equitable access to water?
  • Can you summarize the main points of the panel conversation in relation to the three themes pointed above?

Further Readings and Resources

Further Readings and Resources
There are lots of resources available online to continue learning about water and gender, if you wish to know more you can have a look at the following websites.

Other related International Waters Lessons and Submodules

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