Author:Kuntala Lahiri Dutt
About the Book
The bonds between women and water are enduring and vital. Indeed, women are the key to the success of water resource management. Throughout the world they play important roles in dealing with water, primarily at the household level, but also as agricultural labour. One can find innumerable differences in which women and men related to and use water. Because of the various roles women play in water resource management, they have considerable knowledge about water, including availability, quality and reliability, restrictions and acceptable storage methods. At the same time, the nature of jobs usually performed by women is such that they are in constant contact with polluted or poor quality water. They are affected by the lack of sanitation, and thus are most vulnerable to water-related diseases. When it comes to decision-making about water resource management, women are almost invisible. Divided into four parts, the book considers (i) global discourses on water, (ii) water culture and the economy; (iii) water, time and place; and (iv) water, women and agency. It highlights the achievements and failures, in both developed countries and developing countries, and urges mainstreaming of gender in the water sector. Reflecting upon the various relationships between gender and water, it examines various issues in water resource management, aiming to generate awareness about these issues, and to mainstream gender in water-related decision-making in the North and the South. Traditional gender identities often dictate such undervaluation of women’s work, roles, contributions and knowledge, in a developing country as well as in a developed one. The domestic chores in which women deal with water are at least recognized and talked about by those who make policies for women; the significant roles women play in farming and other productive activities are not even acknowledged. Water is used in highly gender-specific ways in rural and urban societies, at home and farms, for food processing and cottage industries (such as local textiles, dairying and potteries). Whilst women often have primary and informal responsibilities of managing water in many societies, men tend to have overwhelming control over agricultural water use, and are often over-represented in formal decision making bodies.
About the Author
Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt is research fellow, Resource Management in Asia Pacific Program, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University, Canberra.