Indus Basin Initiative

Focus areas

Gender and social inclusion

Women are primarily responsible for collecting, transporting, and managing water at the household level. They have a major role in food production (growing crops and rearing livestock) and are custodians of knowledge of traditional crop varieties. Yet they have little or no power to make decisions about food or water resources. Ensuring gender equality and social inclusion in food, water, and energy-related decisions is one of our key priorities.

Gender-responsive climate action
As part of a study titled Social Entrepreneurship for Gendered Climate Action (SEGCA), we examined how the effects of climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan have increased the vulnerability of women entrepreneurs, especially with respect to water, food, and energy.  We found that local entrepreneurs in Gilgit-Baltistan are suffering due to climate change and lack of market linkages. Women in particular face difficulties in acquiring permits to start an enterprise because the government has yet to recognize their entrepreneurial potential. There is a need to link local entrepreneurs with the market and sensitize the government and communities on the role of women entrepreneurs. It is also important to increase awareness about men’s roles in reducing gender inequalities. The study came up with social entrepreneurship models that could enhance water, food, and energy security and identified women entrepreneurs who could potentially become agents of change in the community.

Another ongoing research in the Hunza district of Pakistan aims to understand the impacts of collective farming on women’s empowerment and how water–energy–food security is affected by structural inequalities. The study explores how resources are allocated for farming, and how decisions are made with regard to water, fertilizers, choice of crops, and marketing of agricultural.

Gender resource group
The Gender Resource Group (GRG) seeks to strengthen climate action by facilitating gender-inclusive decision making in policy. It connects grassroots actors, including women, with the Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN). The first GRG meeting in January 2020 brought together around 25 gender experts from government, international agencies, and civil society organizations from Pakistan to discuss how the group can bridge the gender gaps in science and policy. The group will soon be formed in the remaining basin countries – Afghanistan, China, and India.