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A Gendered Critique of Transboundary Water Management



The starting point of this paper is that most of the international transboundary water management (TWM) processes taking place globally are driven by 'the hydraulic mission'—primarily the construction of mega-infrastructure such as dams and water transfer schemes. The paper argues that such heroic engineering approaches are essentially a masculinised discourse, with its emphasis being on construction, command and control. As a result of this masculinised discourse, the primary actors in TWM processes have been states—represented by technical, economic and political elites operating in what generally gets termed 'the national interest'. Left out are the local communities relying on the resource directly: the water users; the poor; women; and other important groups. Instruments such as the UN Watercourses Convention of 1997 make an effort to present an attempt at a gender-balanced approach—through asserting the importance of the 'no-harm rule' and the 'equitable share approach'. However, they end up supporting the status quo through the omission of any reference to gender issues. The paper provides an overview of the masculinised discourse on TWM institutions, proposing that this is the case because of the intersection of two masculinised fields—water resource management and the disciplines engaged in the research of transboundary water management, namely, political science and international relations. The paper investigates two southern African examples that illustrate the potential for including a gendered perspective and pro-poor policies that take into account the needs of the water users or 'stakeholders'. The analysis includes the international and regional legal agreements on transboundary water issues, searching for evidence of a gendered approach. It is concluded that the laws and organisations responsible for transboundary water management currently do not reflect a gendered approach, despite the international recognition given to the necessity of including women in water management structures at all levels.
103 a gendered critique of
transboundary water
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli
The starting point of this paper is that most of the international transboundary water
management (TWM) processes taking place globally are driven by ‘the hydraulic mission
Fprimarily the construction of mega-infrastructure such as dams and water transfer
schemes. The paper argues that such heroic engineering approaches are essentially
a masculinised discourse, with its emphasis being on construction, command and
control. As a result of this masculinised discourse, the primary actors in TWM processes
have been statesFrepresented by technical, economic and political elites operating in
what generally gets termed ‘the national interest’. Left out are the local communities
relying on the resource directly: the water users; the poor; women; and other important
groups. Instruments such as the UN Watercourses Convention of 1997 make an effort to
present an attempt at a gender-balanced approachFthrough asserting the importance
of the ‘no-harm rule’ and the ‘equitable share approach’. However, they end up
supporting the status quo through the omission of any reference to gender issues. The
paper provides an overview of the masculinised discourse on TWM institutions, proposing
that this is the case because of the intersection of two masculinised fieldsFwater
resource management and the disciplines engaged in the research of transboundary water
management, namely, political science and international relations. The paper investigates
two southern African examples that illustrate the potential for including a gendered
perspective and pro-poor policies that take into account the needs of the water users or
‘stakeholders’. The analysis includes the international and regional legal agreements on
transboundary water issues, searching for evidence of a gendered approach. It is
concluded that the laws and organisations responsible for transboundary water
management currently do not reflect a gendered approach, despite the international
recognition given to the necessity of including women in water management structures at
all levels.
transboundary water management; international water law; human rights; gender;
masculinised discourse; international relations
feminist review 103 2013
(99–119) c2013 Feminist Review. 0141-7789/13
That there is a situation of crisis over the management of the water resources
of the world is a claim promoted by a range of international organisations (UNDP,
2006; UNESCO, 2008;
UNEP, 2009
). Ecosystems are under increasing pressure
from human activities and settlements; industries and cities have to convey
water over longer distances; the production of crops for food and fuel consumes
greater amounts of water; and we have just begun to see how climate change will
magnify the crisis. Yet, 884 million people globally lack decent access to water
(UNICEF, 2011).
This has led some researchers to conclude that ‘for the first time
in human history, human use and pollution of freshwater have reached a level
where water scarcity will potentially limit food production, ecosystem function, and
urban supply in the decades to come’ (Jury and Vaux, 2007). It has been argued
that water scarcity is a gendered issue, in terms of, access to clean drinking water,
water to grow food, water for health and sanitation, indeed, water for survival.
According to the 2011 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the
World Health Organisation (WHO) Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and
Sanitation, in almost ‘three-quarters of households without access to drinking
water on premises, women and girls have the primary responsibility for collecting
water. In some countries the proportion is more than 90 per cent’ (UNICEF-WHO,
2011). The Global Water Partnership (GWP) concludes that women play a leading
role in the provision of water and the safeguarding of the resource; however, this is
not reflected in the institutional arrangements for water management (GWP,
This paper calls attention to this gap in the context of international trans-
boundary water management, and thus institutional arrangements (including laws
and agreements, as well as management organisations) established between states
on transboundary water bodies.
Of the over 264 international watercourses in the world, most have some form of
cooperative institution formed to contribute to their management (Wolf et al,
2003; WWF-DFID, 2010). In southern Africa alone, there are sixteen organisations
on transboundary basins incorporating various countries in that region (Earle and
Malzbender, 2005). Yet, despite the large number of agreements on these
watercourses, the environmental and developmental indicators associated with
these basins show little sign of improving (Kistin, 2007). Key ecosystems such as
wetlands and deltas continue to be under threat from human activities, with
negative impacts for the biological processes they support. For example, the
delta of the Orange-Senqu River has been declared a wetland of international
importance under the Ramsar Convention, and yet it is under threat due to
decreased flow volumes and increased sediment transport, at times preventing
the river from flowing into the sea (Earle et al, 2005). In some cases, the benefits
of cooperation accrue at a different scale to the costs of cooperation. Thus, the
agreement between South Africa and Lesotho on the Lesotho Highlands Water
Project (LHWP) creates a range of benefits for each country (a secure supply of
1UNESCO (2008)
From Potential
Conflict to
Potential, retrieved
2011, from UNESCO
projects page:
2UNEP (2009)
Water at a glance:
the global crisis,
last accessed 2010.
3UNICEF (2011)
sanitation and
hygiene, http://
wash/, last accessed
9 January 2012.
4GWP (2010)
Principles, http://
accessed 9 January
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
water for South Africa and royalty payments for Lesotho), but these benefits go
mainly to the urban populations of the two countries. Local communities living in
the project area have been negatively impacted through having to relocate or
losing access to traditional agricultural land (Kistin, 2007). The development of
water storage and distribution infrastructure is vital to achieving water security,
but it needs to take into account social and environmental safeguards. In some
cases, it could prove to be the agreement itself that is a source of contention,
such as on the Nile River where earlier agreements between Egypt, Sudan and
Britain (acting on behalf of the upstream colonies in 1929 and 1959) allocated
the entire flow of the river to Egypt and Sudan (Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), 2011).
This has caused tension with the upstream states, who now wish to gain an
equitable share of the water resources of the river.
There are several possible reasons for the lack of positive outcomes associated
with transboundary water management initiatives, some notably rooted in the
role power plays between countries. States may view each other with some degree
of mutual mistrust and may thus not be willing to enter into agreements that may
eventually prove beneficial. Or agreements are entered into but with very little
input from sub-national stakeholders, despite the fact that much of the respon-
sibility for implementing the provisions of agreements lies at this level. However,
over the past 60 years, the 264 international transboundary watercourses in the
world have had more than twice the number of cooperative than conflictual events
associated with them (Wolf et al, 2003). The conclusion is that states cooperate
over water precisely because it is such a precious resource; it does not pay to fight
over water at the inter-state level. Much work has been done to break the hold of
environmental determinism, showing that conflict is not a predetermined outcome
in conditions of scarcity (Lowi, 1995; Allan, 2002; Wolf et al, 2003; Kalpakian, 2004;
Zeitoun and Mirumachi, 2008). However, despite this history of inter-state
cooperation, the problems associated with the world water crisis have not dimini-
shed over the past 60 years (World Water Council, 2010). The improved mutual
outcomes hoped for by embarking on cooperative processes have not always
materialised. Environmental, social and economic problems related to water are
more pressing now than ever (World Water Assessment Programme, 2009).
Drawing on work developed by Kistin (2007), Zeitoun and Mirumachi (2008),
Zeitoun and Ja¨gerskog (2011) and Daoudy (2009), it becomes apparent that it is
not sufficient to count the number of cooperative events (such as the existence
of treaties, joint organisations or other institutions) in a basin to make an
assessment of the effectiveness of the management frameworks and their ability
to deliver joint benefits. The quality of cooperation needs to be better under-
stood, linking this to the stated desired outcomes of the states in realms such as
economic development, environmental protection and social equity.
If the quality of cooperation between states is important and there is recognition
that social equity in water management is also important, it follows that water
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
management institutions should be representative of the population relying on
those resources. It then further follows that these institutions must take gender
into account in all aspects of their functions. This paper makes the point that
gender issues are largely absent from frameworks for managing transboundary
waters. It is proposed that transboundary water management is largely blind to
gender issues due to the intersection of two epistemic communities strongly
linked to this area. The water management community, dominated in much of
the world until recently by the ‘hydraulic mission’ approach, with its military
antecedents, intersects with the community of international relations (IR),
international water law and political science practitioners. These communities
are dominated by masculinised approaches, thus re-enforcing an omission of
gender issues in transboundary water management.
water governance and gender
There is a plethora of international and regional principles and conventions that
apparently support the role of women and gender in water governance. What
follows is an overview of commitments made by states and other actors to
include women and gender issues in water governance frameworks.
The Dublin Principles of 1992, which form the basis of good water management
practice under the integrated water resource management approach, recognise in
Principle Three that ‘women play a central part in the provision, management and
safeguarding of water’ (GWP, 2010). This principle further states that ‘acceptance
and implementation of this principle requires positive policies to address
women’s specific needs and to equip and empower women to participate at all
levels in water resources programmes, including decision-making and implemen-
tation, in ways defined by them’ (ibid.). In essence, there is the expectation that
good water management practice would address gender issues at all levels of
water institutions, including the international transboundary. It may be argued
that some progress has been made in promoting the involvement of women in
water management institutions at the local and, to a limited degree, the national
level. However, arguably this is more about visibility of women than women’s equal
power in decision-making forums. It has become more common for women to be
included in water use and water management institutions at a sub-national level,
providing at least the possibility of gender issues being considered. However, at the
international level, there is a general lack of incorporation of gender issues in
transboundary water management institutions.
There are other principles of international customary law that reference gender
and water. Principle 20 of the Rio Declaration (UNEP, 1992) states: ‘Women have a
vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation
is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development’. Agenda 21 (CSD, 1992)
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
contains a chapter on women and sustainable development (Chapter 24) and a
chapter on water management (Chapter 18). The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
ofthe2002WorldSummitonSustainableDevelopment, Paragraph 25(a), includes
agreement by governments to ‘support capacity building for water and sanitation
infrastructure and services development, ensuring that such infrastructure and
services meet the needs of the poor and are gender sensitive’.
The Beijing Platform for Action of 1995 highlighted environmental issues as one
critical area of concern: ‘gender inequalities in the management and safeguard-
ing of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment’. Three
strategic objectives were agreed: (i) to involve women actively in environmental
decision making at all levels; (ii) to integrate gender concerns and perspectives
in policies and programmes for sustainable development; and (iii) to strengthen
or establish mechanisms to assess the impact of development and environmental
policies on women.
The Millennium Development Goals include 2015 targets on gender equality and
empowerment of women, as well as on safe water and sanitation. The UN General
Assembly proclaimed 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, ‘Water
for Life’, and called for a focus on implementation of water-related programmes
and projects, ‘whilst striving to ensure women’s participation and involvement in
water-related development efforts’ (WSSCC and WEDC, 2006).
It should be noted that gender empowerment concerns more than merely
counting the number of women represented in institutions (Parpart, 2004)F
there needs to be a shift in the political decision-making process that
allows alternative approaches to the management of international waters.
Representation of women in decision-making structures needs to be accom-
panied by policies, strategies and work plans of those organisations that
reflect an understanding of gender issues. As Parpart argues, ‘a deeper analysis
of the masculinist operations of power reveals the limits of the “body count”
[approach] to gender transformation’ (Parpart, 2009). The rules of the game
and the sanctioned discourse are not changed merely by allowing women
(and marginalised men) into decision-making structures, as the newcomers
face great pressure to adhere to the implicit rules. It is important to look
at the legal agreements establishing water management organisations, as well
as their various policies and strategies, in addition to looking at their repre-
sentation of women.
International agreements or conventions on water management can only be
implemented through the local, national and regional organisations that have
been created to manage them. It is important to consider three elements of
institutional incorporation of gender issues: (i) representation of women in
decision making; (ii) incorporation of gender in the legislation, policies and
strategies of organisations; and (iii) the technical specialists working in these
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
organisations. We review two basin organisations (and the broader institutional
framework they are part of) in Sub-Saharan Africa against our claim that gender
is not integrated into these structures. In the review, the emphasis is placed on
looking at the last two of the above pointsFpolicies, agreements and strategies
that guide these organisations and the types of professional positions that staff
them (looking out for positions related to social sciences, for instance), and less
on the counting of the number of women represented in them. In addition, we
investigate the international transboundary water management institutional
framework and its lack of incorporation of a gendered perspective.
transboundary water management institutions
As noted, there exists a nascent global institutional framework for the manage-
ment of international transboundary waters. This institutional framework consists of
international laws as well as management organisations (WWF-DFID, 2010). Inter-
national laws on transboundary water management include agreements between
basin states (either basin-wide or covering part of a basin); regional legal frame-
works, such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on
Shared Watercourses of 2000, and international customary law such as the 1997 UN
Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses
(UN Convention). These laws form the basis of the rights and responsibilities of
states with regard to transboundary watercourses and set basic minimum standards
for their use, allocation, conservation and dispute resolution (McIntyre, 2010).
The implementation of legal provisions is done by organisationsFeither national
ones (such as departments responsible for water issues) or specifically created
joint entities such as multi-country basin organisations of various sorts. These
organisations receive a legal mandate from the respective international agree-
ments that created them, and are expected to reduce the possibility of conflict
over water resources, resolve disputes between party states and promote
sustainable socio-economic development. These organisations perform a range of
functions as delegated to them by the member states (NBI, 2011).
The direction and pace of institutional development related to transboundary
water management (including laws, organisations and other initiatives) is set
primarily at the political level (Earle et al, 2010). With ultimate responsibility for
the ‘allocation of values in society’, politicians have great influence over water
management domestically (Allan, 2002). Coupled with the responsibility to
protect the sovereignty and rights of their state, they emerge collectively as the
group with the most influence over the direction, speed and quality of trans-
boundary interactions over water (Earle et al, 2010). It is at the political level that
inter-state discussions that result in water laws take place. The organisations
tasked with managing water resources derive their mandate from these laws,
performing the functions that politicians desire of them.
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
If the transboundary water management institutional framework is set at the
political level, it is implemented by another important group: the water manage-
ment community broadly defined to include water management professionals
from government departments and basin organisations, as well as the water users
at various scales (Earle et al, 2010). At this level, there is an increasing recogni-
tion of the different needs of women in water use (Singh, 2006). According to the
GWP’s Technical Committee, the ‘meaningful involvement of women in water
resources development and management can help make projects more sustainable,
ensure that infrastructure development yields the maximum social and economic
returns, and advance progress on Millennium Development Goals’ (GWP-TEC, 2006).
This is vital in many parts of Africa and Asia where there is a backlog of water-
related infrastructure development which needs to be addressed.
The greater participation of stakeholders generally, and women specifically, in water
management institutions is a relatively recent development, receiving official inter-
national recognition first at the UN Water Conference, in Mar del Plata, Argentina,
in 1977 (Singh, 2006). Until the 1970s, most of the world pursued the ‘hydraulic
mission’Fcentred on dominating and controlling the natural environment through
technological and scientific prowess (Allan, 2002 and Molle et al, 2009). The
emphasis was on large-scale water storage and transfer schemes in an effort to
develop irrigation, exploit hydropower potential and supply urban centres with water.
This supply-side approach ran into opposition in the developed world in the 1970s in
the form of environmental and social pressure groups (Molle et al, 2009). However, a
‘hydro-bureaucracy’ had been well established, one that proposed that ‘not a single
drop of water should reach the sea without being put to work for the benefit of Man
(Molle et al, 2009). Over time, this hydraulic mission was pursued by developing
countries, first by colonists and later by independent governments.
As noted, the hydraulic mission is intimately associated with a masculinised
discourse and patriarchal practice. According to Zwarteveen (2008: s.111), the
‘feminist project in irrigation to date has largely been a project of representation
of womenFin the two meanings of the word: that of extending visibility and
legitimacy to women as political subjects, and that of the normative function of
language which either reveals or distorts what is assumed to be true about the
category of women’ . That is to say, men have traditionally been over-represen-
ted in the professions associated with water managementFsuch as engineering,
hydrology and irrigation. But in addition, there is an assumption that water
management functions will be performed by men, thus reinforcing and normalis-
ing the situation by making it appear self-evident or natural (Zwarteveen, 2008).
To question, the norm becomes an aberration. Connell and Messerschmidt refer to
‘hegemonic masculinity’, understood as a pattern of practice that allows men’s
dominance over women to continue (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005), where its
ascendancy is promoted through culture, institutions and persuasion. Thus, it
appears normal that men would wish to participate in efforts to subdue nature
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
and make the desert bloom, and great honour was bestowed on men who succee-
ded in developing large dams or irrigation schemes (Zwarteveen, 2008).
Today there is a large body of research and policy that documents the need to
engage women in water management and development at the local and national
level (GWA, 2003; Laurie, 2005; UNWater, 2005; UNDP, 2006; Zwarteveen, 2008;
Molle et al, 2009; GWP, 2010; UNICEF-WHO, 2011). By engaging a larger cross-
section of stakeholders in the planning, building and operation of much-needed
water infrastructure there is a greater possibility of mitigating environmental and
social impacts. That is not to say that gender issues are properly considered or
incorporated in water management at these levels, but there is at least a
recognition that they should be.
As we point out, the area lagging in incorporating gender issues is international
transboundary water management. The laws, policies and strategies at this level
are mostly silent on the promotion of gender issues, as are the various organisa-
tions responsible for managing transboundary waters. This point is important as
domestic law (national law) is subservient to international law, that is, agree-
ments that states consent to be bound by supranational legislation (Malzbender
and Earle, 2007). The implication is that what is agreed to at the international
level, between sovereign states, needs to be adhered to and implemented at the
local level. National laws, regulations and policies have to be brought in line with
international laws that states have acceded to. As women are greatly engaged in
the provision and management of water at the local level, this means they are
directly impacted by the international legal agreements.
Representatives of states in basin organisations are usually senior technical staff
from the respective departments of water (NBI, 2011). During negotiations to
develop legal agreements on transboundary waters, representatives from other
government departments such as foreign affairs and justice may also participate,
with ultimate leadership taken at the political level. In all these fields, there is
usually an under-representation of women (Zwarteveen, 2008), and generally the
field of IR has ‘remained relatively impervious to gendered arguments’ (Parpart
and Thompson, 2011). As reported by Tetreault, an investigation by the International
Studies Association found that women are underrepresented in political science
generally and IR specifically (Tetreault, 2008). She suggests the reason is the
embedded masculinism in IR and the security professions, with use of language
reinforcing the status quo. This is important for transboundary water management as
much of the research being done in this field comes from an IR or political science
perspective. These researchers play an important role in advising or working with
governments as they seek to develop transboundary water management institutions.
As will be discussed in the following cases, there is usually an absence of non-
governmental stakeholders in the negotiations around transboundary waters, and
only rarely is there formal stakeholder participation in the management of basin
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
organisations. This bias towards governmental and masculinised approaches
to transboundary water management practice is to some degree echoed in the
composition of the researchers pursuing activities in this field. Most researchers have
backgrounds in engineering, hydrology, water law, IR or political science, all areas
traditionally dominated by men. Indeed, some of the most prominent researchers in
IR generally and transboundary water management specifically come from military
backgrounds (Tickner and Waever, 2009: 202; Tetreault, 2008).
There is a resemblance to military honours in the state recognition of engineers
and other water management professionals for their infrastructure develop-
ment efforts. In practice there are many similarities between army bureaucracies
and water management and development bureaucracies, with many early water
management engineers coming from a military background (Gilmartin, 1994). The
United States Army Corps of Engineers’ stated mission is to provide vital public
engineering services in peace and war to strengthen security, energise the economy,
reduce risks from disasters, and work on canal construction and flood control.
To some degree, it is the dominance of technical experts in water management
and research organisations (whether men or women) that crowds out innovation
from the social sciences. For instance, in assessing the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research, which has a wide range of activities in water
resources management, it was found that social scientists are habitually under-
represented on projects (Cernea, 2005). Social science research was found to be
small in range and underfinanced. This in part explains why a greater emphasis on
gender is not entering the world of water management, as it is not only the water
management organisations that are gender-blind but also the research networks.
Thus, despite the recognition by the international community of the need to involve
women and gender issues equally in water management at the national level, there is
much less recognition of this at the international level. We contend that the reason
for this is the intersection of the water management field with that of IR. As the
practice of transboundary water management involves relations between sovereign
states, much of the activity involves IR and diplomacy. With the hydraulic mission
being a strongly masculinised endeavour, both in terms of representation of men and
the approaches taken to dominating nature, the field of water management has only
recently and gradually started incorporating a gendered approach. Coupled with the
masculinised fields of IR, international water law and political science, the result is a
neglect of a gendered approach to transboundary water management.
a gendered critique of transboundary waters
What follows is a discussion of various international and regional transboundary
water management frameworks. These include institutions, such as legal agreements
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
and organisations, as well as a study of the institutional framework for
transboundary water management. These are distinct from the commitments
made by states to improve water management, as discussed above, as they
focus specifically on transboundary water management. Collectively, they form
the foundation for managing transboundary water bodies in various parts of the
In 2010, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Kingdom’s
Department for International Development (DfID) conducted a comprehensive
review of the international architecture of transboundary water management
intended to contribute to improving transboundary water management globally. It
is based on a comprehensive literature survey, regional assessments and targeted
interviews, and is arguably the most comprehensive study of its kind on this topic,
making it an important point of reference for policy makers, practitioners,
researchers and the development community at large. It is thus surprising to note
the absence of gender issues in the report, given that women bear a large portion
of the impact of transboundary water management decisions and yet are not
represented in the institutional framework for transboundary water management.
Searching for the terms ‘gender’, ‘women’ or ‘female’ in the fifty-four-page
document returns no hits. Nor do the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ appearFindicating
that there is no gendered perspective taken. Neither was this an attempt at gender
neutrality, which anyone familiar with a gender analysis and water would not
purport to use. Gender is simply not seen as an issue. The document recognises the
importance of ‘stakeholder participation’ in water management, and while not
specifically identifying women as stakeholders, it cannot be assumed that the
authors consider them. There is also recognition that transboundary water
management is
not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end, namely the optimal use of shared water
resources to achieve environmentally sustainable social and economic development. In this
regard, it is critical that water managers at all levels engage strongly outside the water
sector and ensure that the importance of water management in social and economic
development is fully appreciated (WWF-DFID, 2010: 26).
Thus, the transboundary water management institutional framework is explicitly
linked to social and economic development objectives, an area where the need
for the consideration of gender issues is well established.
The WWF–DfID review makes a strong recommendation for the implementation of
the UN Convention, stating that DfID (and by implication the UK government)
should ‘reconsider its position on UK and other countries’ accidence to the 1997
UN Convention in the light of the conclusions’, while WWF should ‘continue its
advocacy work around the 1997 UN Convention, but should shift from a
predominantly legal argument to one that includes institutional, policy and
developmental dimensions’ (2010: iii). While the 1997 UN Convention is not the
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
only global instrument providing a legal framework for transboundary water
management, it does represent a codification of the internationally accepted
principles for the management and allocation of international waters (McIntyre,
2010). Other global conventions such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and
the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as rules developed under the
International Law Association (the 1966 Helsinki Rules and the 2004 Berlin Rules,
respectively), form part of the body of international law on transboundary
waters. In addition, the various regional agreements covering international
waters, such as the 2000 SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses and the
1992 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on
the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes,
all play an important role in promoting cooperation and good governance of
transboundary water resources in their respective areas. However, the 1997 UN
Convention is the one overarching instrument that would apply (once it has come
into force) to all transboundary watercourses, including lakes, rivers and aquifers
in party states, and provides a mandate for the management of international
waters as a global public good (WWF-DFID, 2010); it will therefore be investigated
in some detail.
Currently, the 1997 UN Convention has twenty-seven contracting states, that is,
eight short of the number required for it to enter into force.
Although the 1997
UN Convention is not yet in force, it is considered part of the body of customary
international lawFmeaning that the norms and principles it promotes (such as
the ‘equitable and reasonable utilisation’ principle and the ‘no harm’ rule) are
accepted as common state practice (McIntyre, 2010). The International Court of
Justice has made specific reference to the UN Convention in the adjudication of
disputes between countries on transboundary watercourses, such as the
Gabcikovo-Nagymaros case between Hungary and the Slovak Republic on the
Danube River in 1997. As the pace of countries joining the UN Convention has
increased over the past 5 years, there exists a strong likelihood of it entering into
force in the not too distant future.
The WWF–DfID review provides two key arguments for the 1997 UN Convention to
come into force:
KProvides a clear institutional mandate for a global facilitator to promote, coordinate,
facilitate and monitor appropriate transboundary cooperation, through regional
dialogue and institutions.
KStrengthens the weaker voices of countries (and marginalised groups) against stronger
riparians for cooperation (and achieves water management obligations), particularly
when supported by a global institutional framework (WWF-DFID, 2010: 48).
The second point above would seem to provide a possible entry for gender issues
to be considered in the 1997 UN Convention; however, a review of the convention
does not turn up any terms related to gender issues. Indeed, the 1997 UN
5WWF (2012)
Convention, http://
accessed 12 January
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
Convention makes no mention of ‘stakeholders’, and refers to ‘participation’ only
in the context of the right of states to participate in the protection and
development of an international watercourse (UN, 1997). In Article 6, the 1997
UN Convention lists factors relevant to equitable and reasonable utilisation,
essentially codifying how water allocation determinations should be made. The
state-centric approach taken places emphasis on impacts of one state’s use of a
watercourse on another state (factor ‘D’). Factor ‘B’ (the social and economic
needs of the watercourse states concerned) and factor ‘C’ (the population
dependent on the watercourse in each watercourse state) come closest to
considering stakeholders in the allocation and use of watercourses. This provides
the possibility of considering gender issues in the management of a trans-
boundary watercourse, but falls far short of explicit recognition of a gendered
Regional legal documents on transboundary watercourses are similarly silent on
issues related to gender. The 2000 SADC Protocol is largely based on the 1997
UN Convention (Malzbender and Earle, 2007) and similarly omits any mention
of ‘gender’, ‘stakeholders’ or ‘participation’ (SADC, 2000). This agreement is in
force and legally binding on the twelve SADC states that have acceded to it (all
of the SADC except Zimbabwe and the DRC). The SADC Regional Water Policy and
Regional Strategy have sections on Stakeholder Participation (Gender Mains-
treaming): 10.2.1. Policy: women are recognised as playing a central role in the
provision, management and safeguarding of water and shall be fully involved
in the development and implementation of policies, processes and activities at
all levels; and 10.2.2. Policy: all SADC water institutions shall implement the
principles, goals and objectives of gender mainstreaming in their administration
and implementation. However, these provisions have yet to be incorporated at
the transboundary level.
Compared with the 1997 UN Convention, the 1992 UNECE Convention is considered
to be more far-reaching in scope of issues, more stringent in provisions and
generally more detailed (Rieu-Clarke et al, 2007). This makes sense, as it is a
regional agreement negotiated between countries in Europe and their neighbours.
It is especially more stringent in the area of environmental issues, requiring a
range of actions to protect ecosystems. However, it omits any mention of the
terms associated with a gender dimension; the closest it comes to a mention of
stakeholder participation is in Article 16, where the public’s right of access to
information is established.
If the international and regional legal frameworks for transboundary water
management do not contain anything close to a gender perspective, what then of
the organisations tasked with managing such watercourses? As noted earlier, the
majority of the 264 international transboundary watercourses globally have
some sort of joint management organisationFsome basin-wide while others only
cover a portion of the basin. It is beyond the scope of this exploratory paper to
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
investigate all, or even a representative sample, of these organisations. But to
gain a better perspective of how gender issues are treated in such organisations,
two in southern Africa will be discussedFORASECOM and OKACOM. They have
been chosen partly for pragmatic reasons (familiarity of the authors with the
cases and availability of information) and partly because they serve as good
examples of basin organisations internationally, while recognising that no two
basins are alike (NBI, 2011).
the Orange-Senqu river commission
The Orange-Senqu River has its headwaters in Lesotho’s Maluti mountains from
where it flows into South Africa, and is joined by its largest tributary (the Vaal
River), later forming the border with Namibia before flowing into the Atlantic
Ocean (Earle et al, 2005). Ephemeral streams link southern Botswana to the
basin. The basin is one of the most used in southern Africa, and supplies most of
the freshwater to Guateng province, South Africa’s industrial heartland. The
world’s largest international transfer of water is the Lesotho Highlands Water
Project (LHWP), whereby water is transferred by gravity to South Africa, earning
Lesotho royalty income. The basin is important both to the major cities in the two
countries (for Johannesburg the water allows it to keep expanding and in Maseru
the government benefits from the foreign income) and to the predominantly rural
population of the basin, where it supports small-scale as well as large-scale
commercial agriculture (Schuermans et al, 2004).
However, experience shows that in practice women are negatively affected by
projects such as the LHWP. In a study done by the Transformation Resource
Centre, a social and development NGO in Lesotho, it was found that women were
negatively impacted by the construction of the first phase of LHWP dams. The
three main points are that there were very high rates of HIV/AIDS infection among
women living close to the construction sites; female poverty increased in some
areas as garden plots were lost, and women bore the brunt of the psychological
stress associated with moving to a new area (Thamae and Pottinger, 2006). The
fact that gender issues are not explicitly mentioned in any of the Commissions’
documents and strategies means that there is a real possibility of such negative
impacts being repeated in future projects.
In 2000, the four states negotiated the formation of the Orange-Senqu River
Commission (ORASECOM), constituting it as an international organisation to
advise the parties on the equitable and sustainable development of the basin
(Earle et al, 2005). The Commission provides a forum for consultation and
coordination between the basin states, and is currently in the process of adopt-
ing a basin development plan (NBI, 2011). ORASECOM advises the member states
on matters related to the development, use and conservation of the water
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
resources in the river system. This may include recommendations on water
availability, equitable and reasonable use of water resources, development of the
river system, stakeholder participation, and harmonisation of policies (ORASECOM,
2000). The Commission is controlled by the CouncilFwhere the four governments
are represented by three Commissioners each.
At present, all the Commissioners are from government departments (mainly the
respective ones responsible for water issues), though nothing in the formation
agreement precludes the appointment of non-governmental representatives as
Commissioners (ORASECOM, 2000 and NBI, 2011). There is no requirement for
gender equality in the representation of Commissioners. That some of these
Commissioners (at the time of writing) happen to be female is not due to any
policy on equal representation, and is only indicative of the level of seniority of
the individuals concerned. The Council may mandate the formation of technical
task teamsFto perform studies on specific issues. There is a standing technical
task teamFresponsible for a range of hydrological and related studiesFas well
as a legal task team, a financial task team and a communications task team.
These task teams comprise professionals from relevant national departments and
at times experts outside of government. The daily functioning of the Commission
is supported by a secretariat, consisting of four recruited staff (NBI, 2011). The
secretariat has four permanent staff postsFthe Executive Secretary, a Water
Resources Expert, a Financial Officer and a Personal Assistant to the Executive
The formation agreement of ORASECOM is silent on gender issues, but does make
mention of stakeholder participation. Article Five describes the functions of the
Council, with 5.2.4 calling on it to advise the states on the ‘extent to which the
inhabitants in the territory of each Party concerned shall participate in respect to
the planning, development, utilisation, protection and conservation of the River
System’ (ORASECOM, 2000: s.5). On the basis of this article, the Commission
developed a Roadmap Towards Stakeholder Participation (ORASECOM, 2007). The
Stakeholder Roadmap is a strategy for enhancing stakeholder involvement and
participation in the Orange-Senqu River basin, in order to support co-management
of the basin.
The various components of the Roadmap are being implemented incrementally,
largely through avenues created by the various donor-supported projects active
in the basin, donors who do not necessarily mandate gender inclusion. Although
gender is not named specifically in the Roadmap, a great deal of attention
is focussed on promoting equity in participation and decision-making mech-
anisms in the basin, as well as the need to foreground marginalised groups in
the basin.
As part of a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project, a transboundary
diagnostic analysis (TDA) was performed across the basin and completed in 2008.
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
This GEF TDA process has no indicators on gender in any of its international
waters projects, despite 20 years of work by feminist scholars on water and
gender. The TDA includes interviews with thirty-six stakeholder groups in the
basin countries. The stakeholders include employees of departments dealing with:
environmental affairs; tourism; water affairs; meteorology; forestry and agricul-
ture; national water managers and parastatals; agronomic boards; mining
industry; scientists; NGOs; tour guides; river community members; members of
ORASECOM; and other international development organisations working on other
ORASECOM projects. The interviews were followed by a telephonic/face-to-face
questionnaire survey of more than 400 stakeholders from thirty-six groups across
the region (UNDP-GEF, 2008). The analysis reflects the views and concerns of the
stakeholders interviewedFbut there is no evidence of a gender approach being
At present, there is no explicit mention of a gender approach in any of the
Commission’s formation documents, policies and strategies. Thus, there is no policy
promoting the equal representation of women in the decision-making structures of
the Commission. Of the four task teams established under the Commission, the
Communications task team holds the possibility of including staff with a social
science background. However, the main purpose of the communications activities
of the Commission (as outlined in its 2010 Communications strategy) is to
disseminate ORASECOM messages to various stakeholdersFessentially a one-way
flow (ORASECOM, 2010). The permanent staff members of the Secretariat come
from a physical science or financial background, and thus there is no professional
with the necessary social sciences background for the promotion of gender issues in
the Secretariat’s work. A recommendation has been made to employ a Communi-
cations Expert in the Secretariat, but to date this has not happened.
In sub-basin projects, such as the next phase of the LHWP, there are extensive
provisions around investigating social issues related to the construction of the
infrastructure and relocation of communities. As noted above, it is already known
that women have been negatively impacted through such projects. Without
explicit incorporation of gender issues in the work of the Commission, there is a
risk of negative impacts being repeated in future projects.
permanent Okavango river basin water
The Cubango-Okavango River basin is home to about 600,000 people, over half of
whom live in the Angolan portion of the basin. Namibia is home to 160,000 people
in the basin, with the remainder living in and around the Okavango Delta in
Botswana (Mendelsohn and Obeid, 2004). The two main sources, the Cubango and
the Cuito, rise on the Bie Plateau in central Angola, where average annual rainfall
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
is over 1000 mm a year, and the flow south towards Namibia. The Okavango River
does not flow into the sea, terminating instead in Botswana as the Okavango
Delta, where it is swallowed up by the sands of the Kalahari Desert and ‘lost’ to
evapotranspiration (Turton and Earle, 2004).
In 1994, the three countries concluded an agreement forming the Permanent
Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), serving as ‘technical advisor
to the parties on matters relating to the conservation, development and
utilisation of water resources of common interest’ (OKACOM, 1994). The river is
one of the last large undammed rivers in Africa and is a valuable earner of
tourism revenue for Botswana (Turton and Earle, 2004). With the arrival of peace
in Angola in 2004, there has been discussion about the possibility of constructing
dams on the headwaters, which if carried out could impact the ecological
functioning of the delta. To-date, the countries have used OKACOM as an avenue
for communication and joint planning, thus reducing the possibility of conflict in
the basin (Turton and Earle, 2004).
Much like ORASECOM, OKACOM acts in an advisory capacity, and thus lacks an
executive mandate. Its highest organ is the Commission, where each country is
represented by three Commissioners, again coming from their respective
governments, but this is not stipulated in the formative agreement (OKACOM,
1994). At the time of writing, there are two female Commissioners, out of eight
currently appointed. Reporting to the Commission is the Okavango Basin Steering
Committee (OBSC), which is responsible for performing technical studies. Of the
nine members, three are women. At present, there are three task forces under the
OBSCFInstitutional, Hydrological and Biodiversity (NBI, 2011). The task forces
are staffed by seconded personnel from the respective departments of water.
The Institutional task force contains several individuals with backgrounds in
social sciences or in other ways familiar with gender issues. A small secre-
tariat provides administrative support and has a recruited staff of three
professionals, including the post of Communication and Information Specialist.
This position is more proactive than one-directionaloutreachinthatitstrives
to promote information and knowledge exchange between communities in the
basin. The present incumbent of this position has strong experience in gender
The OKACOM formative agreement contains no provisions around gender issues, or
about stakeholder participation, possibly reflecting its earlier provenance (than
the ORASECOM agreement). Despite this, the Commissioners recognised early on
that they would not be able to perform most of the required activities in the
basin alone. They therefore recognised the potential role of national community-
based organisations and NGOs in public outreach and stakeholder partici-
pation. The Every River Has Its People (ERP) project ran from 1999 to 2006
and was implemented by three NGOs, one from each of the basin statesFthe
Kalahari Conservation Society in Botswana, the Namibian Nature Foundation and
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
ACADIR in Angola.
The project aimed to link up and empower communities living
along the river, allowing them to play an active role in management of basin
resources and to combat poverty and environmental degradation. The project
started off with no links to OKACOM, but there was a commitment from the
Commissioners to support the project where possible. By 2004, the Basin Wide
Forum (BWF), established through the project, had gained official recognition
from OKACOM. The BWF is made up of elected representatives from communities
living in the basin, in all three states. At present, the forum has observer status
on OKACOM; it may attend regular OKACOM meetings and table motions, but it
cannot vote.
There is no gender strategy for the BWF, with communities choosing represen-
tatives best suited to their needs. At present, there are eight male represent-
atives and two female, reflecting the lower level of involvement of women in
transboundary issues. A possible reason for this lower level of involvement (in
contrast to local initiatives in the region where women are usually well
represented) is that women find it difficult to leave their home and village for
more than a day to attend meetings (Magole, 2012). The nature of transboundary
activities means that a fair amount of travel to other parts of the basin is
OKACOM does not mention gender issues in any of its founding or organisational
design documents, nor in any of its policies. There is no gender equality in
representation policy, leading to only two out of eight Commissioners being
women. The OBSC (which reports to the Commissioners) currently has three women
out of eight members. The Institutional Task Force and the Secretariat would
seem to contain staff positions and specific individuals with a greater awareness
and knowledge of gender issues. However, as mentioned in the discussion above,
it is difficult for such individuals to effect change if it is not supported through
the policies and strategies of the organisation, as well as the broader institu-
tional framework under which it operates.
concluding discussion
In both the basin organisation cases analysed above, gender approaches are
notable by their absenceFat best there is a general acknowledgement that
stakeholders should participate. There is some limited degree of representation
of women in both organisations, but not due to a formal equality policy. And
representation at the highest decision-making levels of both Commissions is
heavily male-dominated. The professional staff members of these organisations
are primarily from technical or physical science backgrounds, with few showing a
strong connection with gender issues. In practice, it would seem that issues
around stakeholder participation and gender specifically are expected to be
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registered NGO in
Anton Earle and Susan Bazilli feminist review 103 2013
handled at the national or local level. This is reflected right from the formation
of the two organisationsFin both there were only governmental representatives
in the negotiations; civil society was only included (to a limited degree) after
the Commissions were established and at the request of the stakeholders
The lack of any explicit incorporation of gender issues is perhaps to be expec-
ted as both organisations are founded on (in the case of ORASECOM) or run
on the principles established by international legal frameworks such as the 1997
UN Convention and the 2000 SADC Protocol. Where the prime international law
instruments are silent on the issue of gender in transboundary water management, it
is to be expected that organisations founded on their principles will follow suit. As
Rochette notes, the lack of progress in international environment law, especially
from a feminist perspective, is due in part to the ‘gendered state system’, which
relies on individual states to implement the commitments (Rochette, 2005). The law
has not translated into a questioning of the basic assumptions underlying it.
International law and the regional implementing agencies ‘actually work to preserve
the hegemony of masculinist institutions such as the global capitalist system and
Western science and technology’ (Rochette, 2005).
This paper has investigated whether gender issues are included in international
transboundary water management institutions. It has shown that there is almost
no inclusion of gender issues in the three areas of institutional incorporation: (i)
representation of women in decision making; (ii) incorporation of gender in the
legislation, policies and strategies of organisations; and (iii) the technical
specialists working in these organisations. A reason for this is the intersection of
the field of water management (dominated by the hydraulic mission) and
political science and international relations. These fields are traditionally
masculinised, and when combined become mutually re-enforcing in this aspect,
negating progress currently being made to incorporate gender issues in water
management at sub-national levels. Thus, there is a difference between water
management at the sub-national level, where more progress has been made in
developing gendered approaches, and water management at the inter-state
level, where gender is found to be absent. Several transboundary basins have
well-advanced infrastructure development plans (including water storage, water
transfer, hydropower generation and navigation). The building of this infra-
structure is a vital part of stimulating socio-economic growth in developing
countries; making it all the more important to include gender dimensions in the
management of transboundary basins.
Whatremainstobedoneistoinvestigate potential avenues for the incor-
poration of gender issues in the current institutional architecture. This could
be a study similar to the review performed by WWF–DfID discussed above,
butthistimewithaclearmandatetomainstream and include a gender
perspective. Once this is done, recommendations can be made on how to bring
feminist review 103 2013 a gendered critique of transboundary water management
about changes to the international architecture for transboundary water
management so that it better incorporates gender. Such recommendations
need to include indicators to measure gender inclusion. By doing so, a tangible
contribution will be made to the quality of the inter-state cooperation over
water management.
authors’ biographies
Anton Earle, a geographer with an academic background in environmental
management, specialises in transboundary integrated water resource manage-
ment, facilitating the interaction between governments, basin organisations and
other stakeholders in international river and lake basins. He is experienced in
institutional development for water resource management at the inter-state level
in the Southern and East African regions, the Middle-East and internationally. He
is the Director of Capacity Building programmes at the Stockholm International
Water Institute (SIWI) and is completing a PhD in Peace and Development at the
School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg.
Susan Bazilli, Director of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), is a
Feminist Lawyer, a Researcher, an Educator and an Advocate who has worked
globally on issues of women’s rights and human rights for the past 30 years.
A graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B.), she is the author of ‘Putting
Women on the Agenda: Women, Law and the Constitution in Southern Africa’.
Since 2008, she has been managing an international transboundary waters project
funded by the Global Environment Facility, and continuing the IWRP project work
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... The inclusion of a broader collection of stakeholders in the BD has built trust and confidence through increased transparency, and reduced misperceptions within and across riparian countries. The BD platform also facilitates capacity building for non-state actors, especially women and minority groups who are often marginalized from formal decision-making process on transboundary water management (Earle and Bazilli, 2013). Most importantly, the BD helps riparian countries to identify the drivers and incentives of cooperation for each country in order to jointly build a shared vision of cooperation. ...
... Women continue to be underrepresented in water management, particularly transboundary water management decision making fora (Earle and Bazilli, 2013). Increasing women's participation and influence in water governance processes is critical to improve services, reduce inequalities, and mitigate conflicts. ...
... As abordagens tradicionais relacionadas à engenharia dos recursos hídricos têm um discurso masculinizado, enfatizando "construção, comando e controle". Esse discurso é utilizado por elites técnicas, econômicas e políticas, sendo também adotado em outros setores da sociedade, como na política e nos negócios, deixando de fora vozes já marginalizadas e invisíveis, como mulheres, pobres, grupos étnicos e minorias raciais, entre outros(Earle & Bazilli, 2013) Muitos grupos específicos são discriminados no acesso à água e ao saneamento pela sua condição social ou pessoal por gênero, raça, etnia, ...
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Este estudo foi apresentado para promover uma discussão sobre a participação e a representação das mulheres nos espaços criados para a gestão da água. Reconhecendo que a gestão sustentável de recursos hídricos, e do saneamento, proporciona grandes benefícios para a sociedade e a economia como um todo, faz-se necessária a inclusão de homens e mulheres, em sua diversidade, nas deliberações que devem acontecer nesses fóruns de decisões para a gestão desse recurso imprescindível à vida. Neste estudo, são apresentadas as análises dos dados referentes aos conselhos estaduais de recursos hídricos, buscando ainda identificar quem são os atores, como indivíduos, que participam dos processos de formulação das políticas das águas no âmbito desses conselhos. Diferentes estudos apontam como a falta de acesso à água segura e potável afeta a vida das comunidades e, de modo mais intenso, a das mulheres (seja em “seus” papéis e responsabilidades de trabalho do cuidado, os riscos relacionados à higiene pessoal e à saúde, além da violência e do comprometimento de perspectivas de futuro). Apesar dos diversos compromissos globais (como a Agenda 2030), as desigualdades persistem entre homens e mulheres, principalmente no que diz respeito ao acesso ao trabalho e à igualdade salarial, às tomadas de decisões, ao acesso e ao controle à terra e aos recursos financeiros. As considerações de gênero estão no centro do fornecimento, do gerenciamento e da conservação dos recursos hídricos no mundo, além de salvaguardar a saúde pública e a dignidade humana por meio do fornecimento de saneamento adequado e de serviços de higiene. As perspectivas de gênero devem, portanto, ser integradas no planejamento nacional e global de água e saneamento e nos processos de monitoramento. O problema que persiste, embora haja esforços no sentido de minorá-los, e que há muitas informações inadequadas que não fornecem detalhes da participação da mulher nos diversos processos envolvendo os recursos hídricos. Um dos principais motivos pelos quais o assunto não é tratado de forma adequada é a falta de coleta de dados desagregados por gênero (DDG). É neste contexto que, no presente estudo, foram envidados esforços para integrar uma abordagem de gênero nos conselhos estaduais de recursos hídricos com a preocupação de utilizar dados desagregados por gênero. Além disso, nas questões apresentadas às representantes nos conselhos estaduais, procurou-se obter dados que indicassem a ocorrência de situações que pudessem ser caracterizadas como de violência de gênero.
... Also at transboundary level, most leadership positions in river basin organizations are held by men: thus, water management, policy guidance and decision-making across a basin is often done by men, and upon the advice of men (Best 2019). Nevertheless, with a few notable exceptions (Carmi et al. 2019;Earle, Bazilli 2013;Lossow 2015), there is hardly any research on the role of Also, in Central Asia the majority of the professional and technical positions of the state water administrations, including ministries, agencies and basin management, are held by men (see for example for Kyrgyzstan: Musabaeva 2014, for Uzbekistan: 2019). ...
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Most of the literature on transboundary water governance in Central Asia has approached the issue from a state-centric and rationalist perspective. This paper aims to complement these studies by adding two perspectives: First, drawing on International Practice Theory, I argue that water conflict and cooperation are shaped not only by strategic interests of governments, but also by the practices of diplomats and water officials involved in transboundary water cooperation at different levels. As will be shown, water diplomacy in Central Asia is characterized by both confrontational and collaborative practices and thus the existence of contradictory yet interwoven and complementary paths of water diplomacy. Second, drawing on Feminist Insti-tutionalism, I show the gendered nature of these water diplomacy practices by analyzing how actors explain and legitimize both confrontational and cooperative practices with reference to existing ideas of masculinity. Combining these two approaches sheds light on how state interactions are shaped by social practices and how these social practices in turn are shaped by a gendered logic of appropriateness.
... Laurie (2011) presents an analysis from Bolivia, where she examines the intersecting understanding of gender in transnational water networks challenging the heroic, masculine representations of such platforms. With examples from transboundary water management in Southern Africa, Earle and Bazilli (2013) demonstrate the masculinization of knowledge that promotes heroic engineering projects such as large-scale dams and water transfer schemes. Earle and Bazili argue that this approach represents the interests of the technical, economic and political elites, and it is a result of masculinized fields: water resource management and the scientific disciplines typically engaged in transboundary water management, namely, political science and international relations. ...
This book brings together diverse contributions exploring the integration of gender equality in current national energy policies and international energy frameworks across the Global South and North. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, this collection contributes to building a body of independent empirical evidence about the impacts of the energy transition on socio-economic outcomes, with a focus on gender differentiated choices of energy forms. The book includes short reflections in each chapter allowing the reader to explore the content from an alternative perspective. The common thread enabling the book to actively contribute to engendering the energy transition is its approach to the topic from a primarily ‘gender’ driven perspective. The book draws many useful lessons from practice and shares gender mainstreaming tools for use across the Global South and the North. Such an approach brings novel insights from theoretical, methodological and practical perspectives, which further promotes cross-disciplinary learning and will be of interest to researchers and practitioners from across the Energy and Gender disciplines. Joy Clancy is Professor of Energy and Gender in the Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. Gül Özerol is Assistant Professor in the Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. Nthabiseng Mohlakoana holds a Doctorate in Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development from the University of Twente, The Netherlands. Mariëlle Feenstra is a PhD researcher on gender approaches in energy policy design at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. Lillian Sol Cueva is a PhD researcher on energy futures from a feminist perspective at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
... Laurie (2011) presents an analysis from Bolivia, where she examines the intersecting understanding of gender in transnational water networks challenging the heroic, masculine representations of such platforms. With examples from transboundary water management in Southern Africa, Earle and Bazilli (2013) demonstrate the masculinization of knowledge that promotes heroic engineering projects such as large-scale dams and water transfer schemes. Earle and Bazili argue that this approach represents the interests of the technical, economic and political elites, and it is a result of masculinized fields: water resource management and the scientific disciplines typically engaged in transboundary water management, namely, political science and international relations. ...
Over the past several decades, gender-sensitive analysis of water use, management and governance has made significant contributions to the scholarly literature. This chapter aims to draw insights from this literature that can be relevant for engendering energy transitions. To this end, we follow three steps. First, we identify the meanings given to gender within the context of water governance. Second, we discern the key themes on the nexus of gender and water governance by examining the theoretical and methodological approaches. Third, we distil theoretical, methodological and practical insights that are of relevance for engendering energy transitions. The theoretical insight concerns the theorization of gender to include the social and emotional aspects of resource access and participation, whereas the methodological insight relates to the added-value of mixed methods and large-N comparative studies. Finally, we highlight the practical insight on the role of wider social, political and historical contexts.
... Laurie (2011) presents an analysis from Bolivia, where she examines the intersecting understanding of gender in transnational water networks challenging the heroic, masculine representations of such platforms. With examples from transboundary water management in Southern Africa, Earle and Bazilli (2013) demonstrate the masculinization of knowledge that promotes heroic engineering projects such as large-scale dams and water transfer schemes. Earle and Bazili argue that this approach represents the interests of the technical, economic and political elites, and it is a result of masculinized fields: water resource management and the scientific disciplines typically engaged in transboundary water management, namely, political science and international relations. ...
This book is based on the Symposium ‘Engendering the Energy Transition’ which was held in November 2016 organised by the Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability (CSTM) of the University of Twente, the Netherlands. The participants of the symposium represented the multidisciplinarity of the gender-energy nexus and included researchers, policymakers and practitioners, not all of whom had backgrounds in either energy or gender. This multidisciplinary approach is reflected in the contributions of the nine chapters in this book which examine the issue of gender in a range of different contexts, not all of which are directly related to energy. Each chapter is accompanied by a reflection from a discussant from a different field. The book finishes with four reflections from the perspectives of practice, policy and academia about the research presented which help embeding the book in political, societal, economic and scientific debates.
... Importantly gender is not about women or men and their issues only. Gender is an important development issue that constraints some women or men from gaining resources, benefits and decision making power while including other women or men in the processes (Hannah 2009;Earle and Bazilli 2013;FAO 2011). Gender has location not only in local level, but also in national, regional and global level and formal and informal organizations at different level (Nightingale 2006). ...
While Nepal's forestry sector's policies recognize the importance of gender and social inclusion perspectives for sustainable forest management and conservation, a number of literature from Nepal highlight the problems of gender exclusion, especially women's exclusion from participation in decision making, benefit sharing, and their silent voice in community based natural resource management. The causes of exclusion are analyzed from local sociocultural and institutional perspectives. Addressing complex gender issues of community-based natural resource management depend not only capacity and governance of community institutions, but also on organizational change both in the government and non-governmental organisations at different levels of these organizations. A systematic analysis of how forestry institutions have been changed in terms of addressing gender and social issues of forestry and forest resource management is scarce. This paper presents the government organizational change processes with a focus on capacity, perspective, structures, resource distribution, and participation in policy/strategy development in the forest sector and its implications for gender equality and women's empowerment. We used both quantitative and qualitative data to investigate how have the forest ministry and its departments changed in terms of tackling gender issues of forest management. The study found that the Nepalese government's forestry organizations attempt to address gender issues by practicing an instrumental approach to gender inclusion, but their organizational practices are not oriented to better understand and address gender issues of forestry and forest management from a transformative perspective. Limited responsibility, expertise, interests, human and financial resources, traditional attitude, and gender imbalance and dominance of biophysical perspectives in forest policy/strategy development processes are some of the institutional barriers for tackling gender issues and empowering women in forestry. A transformation in organizational practices is required in the Nepalese forestry to implement forestry policies and plans that aim to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable natural resource management in a gender inclusive way. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the forest ministry and its departments for providing official records and reports based on which development of this paper was possible. We are thankful to those forestry officials in the institutions whose knowledge and information 1 Prepared for the 6 th National Community Forestry Workshop,
... ), transforming the backward practices of indigenous and native populations. These hegemonic representations and practices silence feminist and gendered perspectives on water multiplicity(Earle and Bazilli, 2013). Dismissal of traditional practices of water management has defined the approach of the colonial and postcolonial experts who appointed themselves as producers of knowledge and policy on water management. ...
This thesis is concerned with the political subjectivity of farming in settler colonial contexts. Guided by theoretical concepts of political ecology, settler colonialism and lived geographies, this thesis examines two farming communities which have been central to the realisation of Israeli settler colonial hydro-imaginaries and realities. It employs a historical approach to explain the realities facing these communities today, in their struggle over water to maintain their farming livelihood and hence how, through water, claims of recognition are shaped and developed. Employing mixed qualitative methods of ethnography, archival research, interviews and participant observation, this thesis posits that farming practices, including demands for water and infrastructure, acquire political subjectivity in both communities, transcending farming into an act of resistance, sumud (steadfastness) and rootedness. Under conditions of settler colonial rule, communities are faced with a dialectical presence-absence of the state in their lives. The settler colonial water and land policies materialised realities of unequal geographies and waterscapes, othering the communities concerned through policies of difference and enactment of misrecognition through uprooting land-based belonging and resource rights. Through analysis of their acts of protest through the lens of ‘presence-absence’, farmers demand for water and infrastructure have re-configured from being acts of resistance to a scaled-up articulation for their demands for recognition, inclusion and development. Examining the role of sumud as a form of resistance in livelihood practices highlights how access to, and control over, flows of water by indigenous Arab communities acquire material and symbolic weight as an articulation of rootedness and protest the Israeli hydraulic mission of centralised water control and exclusion. Hence, their realities are shaped by complex conditions of settler colonial rule, where farming acquires political subjectivity as it enacts sumud in their everyday practices.
... This specific discourse is problematic in that it excludes the possibility of men caring for the environment or assumes that all women do so (Leach, 1992). The work of Earle and Bazilli (2013) in South Africa suggests that the discourses around "the hydraulic mission" remain masculinised and that, as a result, transboundary water management is not gendersensitive. In the Mekong Region, while rivers are feminised as mothers, their actual management for irrigation or hydropower is not. ...
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'Gender in development' discourses are used to justify interventions into, or opposition to, projects and policies; they may also influence perceptions, practices, or key decisions. Four discursive threads are globally prominent: livelihoods and poverty; natural resources and the environment; rights-based; and managerial. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have been vocal in raising awareness about the adverse impacts of large-scale hydropower developments on the environment, on local livelihoods, and on vulnerable groups including women. This discourse analysis first examines how CSOs engaging in hydropower processes in the Mekong Region frame and use gender in development discourses, and then evaluates the potential of these discourses to empower both women and men. Documents authored by CSOs are examined in detail for how gender is represented, as are media reports on CSO activities, interview transcripts, and images. The findings underline how CSOs depend on discursive legitimacy for influence. Their discursive strategies depend on three factors: the organizations’ goals with respect to development, gender, and the environment; whether the situation is pre- or post-construction; and, on their relationships with the state, project developers and dam-affected communities. The implications of these strategies for empowerment are often not straightforward; inadvertent and indirect effects, positive and negative, are common. The findings of this study are of practical value to CSOs wishing to be more reflexive in their work and more responsive to how it is talked about, as it shows the ways that language and images may enhance or inadvertently work against efforts to empower women.
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En este estudio se presentan análisis de los datos sobre los consejos estatales de recursos hídricos, también buscándose identificar quiénes son los actores, como individuos, que participan de los procesos de for- mulación de las políticas de las aguas en el ámbito de estos consejos. De forma complementaria, este estudio quiere promover una discusión so- bre la participación y la representación de las mujeres en estos espacios creados para la gestión del agua. Reconociendo que la gestión sostenible de los recursos hídricos y del saneamiento aporta grandes beneficios para la sociedad y para la economía en su conjunto, se hace necesaria la inclusión de hombres y mujeres, en su diversidad, en las deliberaciones que deben realizarse en estos foros de decisiones para la gestión de un recurso imprescindible para la vida. Diversos estudios indican que la falta de acceso al agua potable afecta la subsistencia de las comunidades e incide con más intensidad sobre la vida de las mujeres (ya sea en “sus” roles y responsabilidades laborales y de cuidado, sean los obstáculos relacionados con la higiene personal y con la salud, además de la violencia y del comprometimiento con las perspectivas de futuro). A pesar de los diversos compromisos globales (como la Agenda 2030), las desigualdades persisten entre hombres y mu- jeres, principalmente en materia de acceso al trabajo y por la desigualdad salarial, la toma de decisiones, el acceso y el control de la tierra y de los recursos financieros. Las cuestiones de género ocupan un lugar central en el suministro, gestión y conservación de los recursos hídricos en el mundo, además de salvaguardar la salud pública y la dignidad humana mediante la prestación de servicios de saneamiento y de higiene ade- cuados. Por lo tanto, las perspectivas de género deben integrarse en la planificación nacional y global de agua y saneamiento y en los procesos de supervisión. El problema que persiste, a pesar de que existen esfuerzos para aliviar el problema de la desigualdad de género, es que hay una gran cantidad de informaciones inadecuadas que no proporcionan detalles sobre la parti- cipación de las mujeres en los diferentes procesos relacionados con los recursos hídricos. Lo que ocurre es que los problemas y las necesidades específicas de las mujeres no se abordan adecuadamente. Y uno de los principales motivos es la falta de recopilación de datos desglosados por género (DDG). De hecho, es en este contexto que, en el presente estudio, se hicieron esfuerzos para integrar un enfoque de género en los Consejos Estatales de Recursos Hídricos (CERH) con la preocupación de utilizarse los datos desglosados por género. Además, en las cuestiones presentadas para los representantes en los consejos estatales, se buscó obtener a datos que indicasen la ocurrencia de situaciones que pudiesen caracterizarse como una violencia de género.
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O conceito de masculinidade hegemônica tem influenciado os estudos de gênero em vários campos acadêmicos, mas ao mesmo tempo tem atraído um sério criticismo. Os autores traçam a origem do conceito a uma convergência de ideias no início dos anos 1980 e mapeiam as formas através das quais o conceito foi aplicado quando os estudos sobre homens e masculinidades se expandiram. Avaliando as principais críticas, os autores defendem o conceito de masculinidade como fundamental, uma vez que, na maioria das pesquisas que o opera, seu uso não é reificador nem essencialista. Entretanto, as críticas aos modelos assentados em características de gênero e às tipologias rígidas são sólidas. O tratamento do sujeito em pesquisas sobre masculinidades hegemônicas pode ser melhorado com a ajuda dos recentes modelos psicológicos, mesmo que os limites à flexibilidade discursiva devam ser reconhecidos. O conceito de masculinidade hegemônica não equivale a um modelo de reprodução social; precisam ser reconhecidas as lutas sociais nas quais masculinidades subordinadas influenciam formas dominantes. Por fim, os autores revisam o que foi confirmado por formulações iniciais (a ideia de masculinidades múltiplas, o conceito de hegemonia e a ênfase na transformação) e o que precisa ser descartado (tratamento unidimensional da hierarquia e concepções de características de gênero). Os autores sugerem a reformulação do conceito em quatro áreas: um modelo mais complexo da hierarquia de gênero, enfatizando a agência das mulheres; o reconhecimento explícito da geografia das masculinidades, enfatizando a interseccionalidade entre os níveis local, regional e global; um tratamento mais específico da encorporação1 em contextos de privilégio e poder; e uma maior ênfase na dinâmica da masculinidade hegemônica, reconhecendo as contradições internas e as possibilidades de movimento em direção à democracia de gênero.
This chapter asserts that gender is essential to a full understanding of conflict, violence and human security/insecurity in Africa. While there is a growing literature arguing for the importance of gender in International Relations (IR) (Steans, 2006; Tickner, 1992, 2001), for the most part mainstream and even critical IR has remained relatively impervious to gendered arguments, particularly in regard to security and conflict. Moreover, much of the literature on IR and (in)security in Africa adopts this position as well (Clapham, 1996b; Harbeson and Rothchild, 2000; Reno, 1998).
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The concept of hegemonic masculinity has influenced gender studies across many academic fields but has also attracted serious criticism. The authors trace the origin of the concept in a convergence of ideas in the early 1980s and map the ways it was applied when research on men and masculinities expanded. Evaluating the principal criticisms, the authors defend the underlying concept of masculinity, which in most research use is neither reified nor essentialist. However, the criticism of trait models of gender and rigid typologies is sound. The treatment of the subject in research on hegemonic masculinity can be improved with the aid of recent psychological models, although limits to discursive flexibility must be recognized. The concept of hegemonic masculinity does not equate to a model of social reproduction; we need to recognize social struggles in which subordinated masculinities influence dominant forms. Finally, the authors review what has been confirmed from early formulations (the idea of multiple masculinities, the concept of hegemony, and the emphasis on change) and what needs to be discarded (onedimensional treatment of hierarchy and trait conceptions of gender). The authors suggest reformulation of the concept in four areas: a more complex model of gender hierarchy, emphasizing the agency of women; explicit recognition of the geography of masculinities, emphasizing the interplay among local, regional, and global levels; a more specific treatment of embodiment in contexts of privilege and power; and a stronger emphasis on the dynamics of hegemonic masculinity, recognizing internal contradictions and the possibilities of movement toward gender democracy.