Gender Inclusion in the Water Sector

Gender mainstreaming involves identifying, and then addressing, gender inequalities throughout all the project stages, from strategy and project design, through implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Since the social norms about gender roles and power relations between men and women affect every aspect of life, including development projects, it is essential to address these issues from the start and throughout the duration of an activity. Gender mainstreaming looks beyond simply targeting women. Instead, it uses gender analysis to consider how people's experiences might vary because of their gender (and other axes of difference); and also to identify the gender gaps in access to and agency over resources, as well as the gendered social norms and values that may affect the solution to a problem.

For non-specialists, gender may sometimes be seen as an abstract concept, the IWRM Action Hub is organised in a way that helps make the concepts of gender and gender mainstreaming more concrete. It does so by offering links and resources for integrating gender into planning, projects, and activities. The B5 Gender Tools will allow the user to see what gender mainstreaming looks like, think through the application of new concepts, and brainstorm ways to improve future programmes using specific examples and cases. The selected resources that accompany the tools will assist agencies, governments, action-researchers, practitioners and policy makers in planning how to integrate gender into their programs and diagnose the extent to which existing programmes integrate gender; and possibly in creating initiatives for catalysing change through participatory and gender-transformative mechanisms and approaches.

Gender Integration Continuum

Since 1990, numerous frameworks and tools have been created to provide guidance on addressing gender inequalities, and gender integration has gained visibility in international development—at the stages of planning, design, implementation, and measurement of programmes. A useful tool to start forming an understanding of progression of gender approaches in the development policy and practice—and for the user to easily navigate the IWRM Action Hub —is the so-called Gender Integration Continuum (GIC), which was originally developed by the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG). The GIC describes a gradient from ignoring gender inequalities and other forms of exclusion (or even reproducing them through practices that intentionally or unintentionally reinforce or take advantage of negative gender stereotypes), to acknowledging the existence of differences, to the most advanced stage of enacting transformative change by taking into account the achievement of fully equal rights. The ultimate goal in a long-term perspective rests on being able to identify strategies to move a project along the continuum toward a gender transformative approach. The classification of a programme or policy along the gender continuum is a helpful tool to assess their current level of gender integration. It allows to ask how things can be moved towards being more transformative; with the ultimate goal of achieving both gender equality and better development outcomes.

Figure 1. Gender Equality Continuum (Adapted from UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women, 2020)

Gender Transformative Approaches

Gender transformative approaches (GTAs) are essential for fostering progressive change in the water sector. To strive towards water security, transformative methods aim to identify the root causes that underlie unequal gender norms and relations and aim to actively challenge these power structures to be more equitable. With this definition GTAs differ from and are complementary to gender aware and responsive approaches. GTAs take the many social, cultural and economic factors such as poverty, power sharing, violence, care-giving burdens, and family roles into account. All of these are gendered and call for extra consideration when developing water-related programmes which shall make a positive difference. Transformative approaches go beyond the past focus in gender analysis on “gaps” and beyond simply adding women to the process. “Structural change” is the keyword to gender-transformative programming. Empowering women and girls and promoting positions of social and political influence for them is an intrinsic part of this. Men and boys are actively involved as allies and agents of change. Evidence shows that gender transformation is possible, but can also be long term, is often generational, and needs sustained investments over time to change individual agency; gender roles, norms, and power dynamics; as well as legislative and institutional structures. This would involve a combined action across scales—from the individual level through to the level of communities, and through systems (Figure 2). 

Figure 2. Gender Transformative Programming (Adapted from UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women, 2020)

Section Overview

The B5 Gender Tools sub-section of the GWP ToolBox adopts a simplified form of gender continuum that is meant to familiarise the user to gender key terms and concepts, analysis, and mainstreaming process by creating a progression from entry point tools to more advanced (transformative) approaches. The entry points are meant to establishing a background in gender integration and gender analysis of projects and programs, and  to enable practitioners to better understand how to integrate gender concepts within planning and programming with regard to the nexus between water, gender, and sustainable development. The majority of resources lie in the intermediate gender-aware and -responsive level. A few selected resources propose significantly innovative approaches or tools, or work toward achieving substantial (that is, structurally political) changes compared to existing initiatives. This transformative and bold approaches include, for example: recognizing women's rights and gender justice as key intersecting components; clear programming or advocacy toward unpacking the hidden causes of gender inequality by transforming power dynamics; or a specific and organic application of an intersectional/feminist/feminist political ecology point of view and line of action.

B5 Addressing Gender Inclusion
IWRM Tools
Thematic Tagging
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