Workshop on Gender Integrated Planning in Water Resources Management

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Most parts of the world are experiencing water scarcity – a problem that will worsen with climate change. Water scarcity can affect various aspects of society, from agricultural and industrial productivity to ecosystems and, consequently, each person. However, its impact is not uniform for all people; women are particularly vulnerable to water insecurity. This, of course, is related to how water is managed and who manages, controls, and has access to it. Thus, consideration of gender and social dynamics is crucial to effective water resources management.

Today, gender is usually explicitly mentioned in water policies in the context of domestic water development of different countries. However, women as irrigators, fishers, or farmers are not given due attention during the formulation of such policies. The token inclusion of women in most water projects is apparent, with only brief descriptions of their unique standing in water management or with authority and empowerment provided merely on paper (with menfolk representing women’s interests and needs in some cases). Often, no consideration is given to the local cultural and social contexts or cultural social relations, resulting in the exclusion of various marginalized social groups. 

Water scarcity has been cited as a major problem in Afghanistan. The water issue is intricate and involves questions of availability, accessibility, affordability, and safety. Afghanistan’s 2009 Water Law grants equitable right to water to all, but not everybody enjoys this right equally. In many of Afghanistan’s 32,000 villages, access to water is difficult, arduous, and time consuming. As patriarchy is deep rooted in Afghan culture, the division of labour in conservative, rural areas is rigid, constituting several barriers to the equal participation of Afghan women. Patriarchal attitudes and structures remain strong and affect the Afghan gender relations in a way detrimental to women’s needs. Despite the Constitution granting rights equal to men and women, the situation is very different in practice.

Objective

The objective of this workshop, jointly organized by Kabul University and ICIMOD’s Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) initiative, is to enhance the capacity of Afghan water experts by providing hands-on experience on gender integrated planning in water resources management. SWaRMA is supported by the Governments of Australia and Afghanistan (Ministry of Water and Energy), and jointly implemented by ICIMOD, and CSIRO. This workshop will help participants understand and apply concepts and tools for gender analysis, learn how gender issues can be integrated into the planning process, set and define objectives, develop activities and inputs, and identify outcome indicators for monitoring and evaluation.