Gender in Inter-State Water Conflicts


Von Lossow, Tobias. 2015. “Gender in Inter-State Water Conflicts.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 27 (2): 196-201.

Author: Tobias Von Lossow


"In sum, gender aspects hardly play any role in inter-state water politics of conflict and cooperation. This has mainly to do with the topic of inter-state water conflicts touching on masculine dominated policy fields and discourses of: first, conflict, confrontation, and warfare; second, inter-state and regional politics, diplomacy and, cooperation; and, third, utilization of water, hydro- engineering, and construction. Nonetheless, on the level of concrete technical cooperation on the ground, some projects along transboundary water basins bring in gender aspects. But even these efforts are nearly exclusively donor- driven, mostly limited to simplistic statements and too rarely translate into concrete actions. All-in-all gender aspects are either not reflected at all in inter- state water politics or apply just as empty phrases in reports of the Western donor community without substantial effects for the people on spot. This is particularly problematic since large-scale projects with strong regional and local impact, for example mega-dams or large irrigation schemes, are often implemented in the context of such inter-state water conflicts with a complete lack of gender awareness. Inter-state water politics might even undermine local and national efforts towards gender sensitive politics.
"Against this background, two policy recommendations are central for promoting gender sensitivity. For one, gender urgently needs to figure in inter-state water politics at all stages of project planning, decision making, and impact assessment, given its immediate consequences for the local population. This also means that the classic imperative of enforcing local stakeholder participation needs to apply. For another, the Western donor community has to rethink its policymaking and its politics: empty gender phrases not materializing in substantial changes on the ground are counterproductive as this “checking the box” attitude wrongly pretends that gender is adequately addressed. As long as gender is absent in inter-state water politics, the mainstreaming efforts of Western donors will continue to be significantly hampered." (Von Lossow, 2015, p. 200-1)


Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Security Regions: Africa, Asia, Middle East, South Asia

Year: 2015

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