Gendered Waters: The Participation of Women in the ‘One Million Cisterns’ Rainwater Harvesting Program in the Brazilian Semi-Arid Region

Citation:

de Moraes, Andrea Ferreira Jacques, and Cecilia Rocha. 2013. “Gendered Waters: The Participation of Women in the ‘One Million Cisterns’ Rainwater Harvesting Program in the Brazilian Semi-Arid Region.” Journal of Cleaner Production 60 (December): 163–9.

Authors: Andrea Ferreira Jacques de Moraes, Cecilia Rocha

Abstract:

Women, especially in developing countries, are often responsible for managing water at the household level. However, they are rarely represented in bodies that decide on water management, and they hardly play a role in the implementation of projects to increase water access. While the need for enhanced gender equity in water management is acknowledged in the international development discourse, the complexities of implementing it are poorly understood. This article presents a qualitative case study of women participation in the Program ‘One Million Cisterns’ in the Brazilian Semi-Arid region, to illustrate the promise and the challenges of bringing about women's participation and empowering. The case study shows that women not only derived significant material benefits from the program (access to water), they also acquired roles and responsibilities - as cistern builders and as members of local water commissions - that traditionally had been reserved for men. Key for this transformational process, we argue, was the role played by local feminist NGOs and social movements who helped rural women create new spaces for social inclusion in water development.

Keywords: water management, gender and development, Latin America, Brazil, Women and water, gender inequality, Rainwater harvesting

Topics: Development, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Governance, Households, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods, NGOs Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2013

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