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Water & Sanitation

'They Are Not of This House’: The Gendered Costs of Drinking Water’s Commodification


O’Reilly, Kathleen. 2011. “‘They Are Not of This House’: The Gendered Costs of Drinking Water’s Commodification.” Economic & Political Weekly, Review of Women’s Studies, 46 (18): 49–55.

Author: Kathleen O’Reilly


While women’s participation is considered a key element of the sustainability plan of the drinking water supply system, some villagers in Rajasthan do not count women in the households while paying common water charges. This paper explores the social, political and environmental implications of not counting girls as household members and drinkers of water. It tries to find answers to the following questions: What are the implications of girls’ non-payment for the cost of drinking water in a shared system? What might girls’ non-payment mean in terms of the gendered sustainability goals of the project? What are the implications for women’s and girls’ political subjectivity, especially where natural resources are concerned?

The paper also addresses a gap in the political ecology literature with respect to the gender dimensions of neo-liberal processes in the water sector by
suggesting a variety of impacts when girls are excluded from water payment.

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Governance, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Gendered Water Spaces: A Study of the Transition from Wells to Handpumps in Mozambique


Houweling, Emily Van. 2015. “Gendered Water Spaces: A Study of the Transition from Wells to Handpumps in Mozambique.” Gender, Place & Culture 22 (10): 1391–407. 

Author: Emily Van Houweling


In many parts of rural Africa, women and children spend a lot of time collecting water. In the development literature, the water collection task is portrayed as oppressive, arduous, and disliked by women. Eliminating this activity from women's lives is believed to empower them, yet there has been little research investigating what actually happens at the water source or how women themselves perceive the time spent there. This research is based on one year of ethnographic fieldwork in five rural communities in the northern province of Nampula, Mozambique. Over this year, handpumps were constructed in communities where people previously collected water from distant shallow wells and rivers. This article compares the social interactions and activities between the customary water sites and the handpump through the lens of gendered space. The customary water sites are controlled by women and highly valued for their social attributes. While clean water is more accessible at the handpumps, men often regulate access to the technology and social activities are limited. This article contributes to feminist geography and political ecology by showing how differences in the materiality of water spaces interact with local norms to shape social interactions and gendered subjectivities, and how, in turn, men and women contribute to the production and meaning of these spaces. I argue that the handpumps open up new spaces for men and women to negotiate gender roles and (re)define their associations with modernity and development.

Keywords: water, gender, women, Mozambique, africa

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2015

Human Right to Water: Contemporary Challenges and Contours of a Global Debate


Mirosa, Oriol, and Leila M. Harris. 2012. “Human Right to Water: Contemporary Challenges and Contours of a Global Debate.” Antipode 44 (3): 932–49. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2011.00929.x.

Authors: Oriol Mirosa, Leila M. Harris


In recent years, significant debate has taken place around the concept of the “human right to water”. In this paper, we seek to respond to recent critiques and clarify the terms of the debate by presenting an in-depth exploration of the human right to water. We explore several critiques of the concept, situate it in the context of the current neoliberalization of water provision and in relation to contemporary water challenges, and present some examples of how it has been deployed to further the cause of access to water for vulnerable populations in varied contexts. We conclude that, rather than abandoning the concept as critics have suggested, the human right to water maintains importance as a discourse and strategy in the contemporary moment.

Keywords: human rights, water, social movements, privatization

Topics: Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2012

'Good’ Water Governance and Gender Equity: A Troubled Relationship.


Cleaver, Frances, and Kristin Hamada. 2010. “‘Good’ Water Governance and Gender Equity: A Troubled Relationship.” Gender & Development 18 (1): 27–41. 

Authors: Kristin Hamada, Frances Cleaver


This paper sets out a framework for understanding water governance, arguing that a narrow focus on gender-sensitive mechanisms of water delivery (such as committees, tariffs, technologies) is insufficient to ensure gender equitable outcomes. We need to expand our analysis of water governance in two directions. Firstly, to understand the ways in which societal resources are allocated (through economic policies, legislation etc) and so shape mechanisms in particular ways. Secondly, to consider how different people are able to influence the outcomes of particular governance arrangements to produce gendered outcomes (for health and well-being, access and livelihoods, and for political voice).

Keywords: water governance, gender, equality, social institutions

Topics: Economies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Governance, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights

Year: 2010

Environmental Security and Gender


Detraz, Nicole. 2014. Environmental Security and Gender. London: Routledge. 

Keywords: environmental conflicts, environmental security, gender discourse, intersectionality




  1. Introduction: where does gender fit in discussions of security and the environment?
  2. From climate conflict to nuclear winter: security and environment discourses
  3. A feminist environmental security discourse
  4. Gender and hydropolitics
  5. Gender and biodiversity
  6. Gender and climate change
  7. Conclusion



Topics: Economies, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Infrastructure, Energy, Water & Sanitation

Year: 2014

Gender Water Networks: Femininity and Masculinity in Water Politics in Bolivia


Laurie, Nina. 2011. “Gender Water Networks: Femininity and Masculinity in Water Politics in Bolivia.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35 (1): 172–88. 

Author: Nina Laurie


This article explores how transnational networking around neoliberal water policies intersects with drives to mainstream gender. It examines how understandings of gender are constructed through water conflicts and demonstrates how complex contemporary gendered water experiences are reflected in a variety of networks operating at and across different scales. It challenges essentialist accounts of gender within policy debates, demonstrating how gendered subjectivities are produced, reproduced and disrupted through hybrid networks of struggle. It shows how these subjectivities enter the global arena through the anti-globalization movement. The article suggests that some transnational water networks become hybrid spaces that draw in both those who support and contest neoliberal agendas and argues that contemporary analyses of water must be understood in this context of intersection. It draws on the example of Bolivian water politics to highlight how gender intersects with ethnicity, notions of appropriate femininity and constructions of heroic masculinities. It illustrates how women's activities are circumscribed by understandings of the supermadre and explores how this femininity has become powerful in representational terms. Finally, the article examines the disciplining role of sexuality in producing femininities and understandings of heroic masculinity in national and transnational settings, including the water ministry and wider contemporary Bolivian politics. 


Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Globalization, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Participation Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia

Year: 2011

Gender and Emergent Water Governance: Comparative Overview of Neoliberalized Natures and Gender Dimensions of Privatization, Devolution and Marketization


Harris, Leila M. 2009. “Gender and Emergent Water Governance: Comparative Overview of Neoliberalized Natures and Gender Dimensions of Privatization, Devolution and Marketization.” Gender, Place & Culture 16 (4): 387–408. 

Author: Leila M. Harris


This article provides a critical reading of some of the gendered dimensions of emergent water governance regimes, specifically those related to the privatization, marketization and devolution of water resources management. After first providing an overview of recent nature–society contributions related to neoliberalization processes, the article comparatively evaluates insights with respect to the gender dimensions of recent shifts in water governance. I make several arguments at the intersection of relevant literatures. First, there is a need for gender theorists interested in water resources and nature–society debates to engage more with issues, theories and processes associated with neoliberalization. Second, there is a need for more attention to gender, feminist theory and approaches to inequality and socio-spatial difference in discussions of neoliberalized natures. Third, reading these literatures together reveals that there is a need to be self-reflexive and critical of elements of the gender and water literature that implicitly endorse foundational ewlements of the neoliberal turn in resource governance. Finally, there are particularities with respect to gender theory and politics, and water materialities that hold importance for understanding recent water governance shifts in the broader context of political and economic changes associated with neoliberalization. 


Keywords: water governance, neoliberalization, privatization, devolution, gender

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Globalization, Governance, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2009

Rethinking Community and Participation in Water Governance


Sultana, Farhana. 2015. “Rethinking Community and Participation in Water Governance.” In The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development, edited by Anne Coles, Leslie Gray, and Janet Momsen, 261–71. London: Routledge.

Author: Farhana Sultana

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Economies, Environment, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Bangladesh

Year: 2015

Water and Sanitation: A Gender Perspective


Poswal, Sangeeta, and Thushara Roy. 2015. “Water and Sanitation: A Gender Perspective.” International Journal of Innovative Research and Development 4 (8): 83-7.

Authors: Sangeeta Poswal, Thushara Roy


According to The Committee of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, access to water and adequate sanitation are underlying determinants of health, which in turn, is an inclusive right. In our portfolio of economic development and social progress, provision of proper sanitation and drinking water are quintessential requirements, especially when it pertains to women’s health. Proper water availability and better sanitation are indeed reflections of women’s dignity and equity. Absence of proper hygiene and sanitation is the chief cause of reproductive tract infections (RTI) in females where the former is primarily associated with the availability of water. Her personal sanitation and hygiene is neglected with huge gender inequalities in the utilization of the services.      The paper has relied primarily on secondary data to analyse the problem in consideration. For qualitative analysis, a few case studies are incorporated in understanding the gravity of the situation and for deriving inference about the problem. The paper examines the functionality of various government programs in Rajasthan related to water availability and sanitation. It tries to find the gap that pertains in this sphere, where there is divergence between approved, released and actual funds. Thus the government is realising the necessary condition of toilet construction and meeting the sufficient condition of proper water availability remains a crucial issue. The paper tries to focus on the problem of water availability, which adversely affects sanitation practices that result in various health hazards especially with reference to rural women of Rajasthan.      Effort is made to evolve a sanitation model that adapts well to Rajasthan’s social and geographic conditions. Appropriate design and location of sanitation facilities reduces the risk of violence and gender specific health problems. It is essential to understand the needs of women and girls while designing sanitation programs.(Marcelina Albuquerque). Realizing the goal of adequate sanitation and water availability is a consistent social process that requires time and investment.

Topics: Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2015

Land and Water Access for Women of the Locality of Velingara – Senegal


Gaye, Docteur Awa, Papa Gallo Sow, Ousseynow KA, Abdoul Aziz Ndiaye, Martial Coly Bop, Fatou Omar Sy Ndiaye, Alioune Badara Tall, et al. 2014. “Land and Water Access for Women of the Locality of Velingara – Senegal.” Science Journal of Sociology and Anthropology 2014: 1-8.

Authors: Docteur Awa Gaye, Papa Gallo Sow, Ousseynow KA, Abdoul Aziz Ndiaye, Martial Coly Bop, Fatou Omar Sy Ndiaye, Alioune Badara Tall


Objective: To assess women's access to land and water in Kounkané and Diobé ‑ Kabendou municipalities in Vélingara city/ Senegal.

Methods: After a literature review of policies and guidelines for women's access to land and water, quantitative and qualitative research from questionnaire, interview and focus group was made. Depending on the type of research, software Epi- info and SPSS were used to capture, control, validation, and data analysis.

Results: 448 women within an outside the women's promotion group or not, leaders or not, with an age ranging from 18 to 92 years.

- First ethnic: Pular with 69%;

- 85.5% of married women;

- 40.60% uneducated;

- 48, 80% holders of farmland;

- Running water was available at 98.40%. 62.3 % of wells are at home and not covered. Public taps accounted for 0.9 %.

Conclusion: Access to economic rights for women’s Diaobé ‑Kabendou and Kounkané  remains a major challenge. The development of operational action plans could ensure sustainable access is an imperative for the basic needs of the most vulnerable group. This effort would be undertaken for humanitarian reasons, and because it directly affects the fundamental fight against poverty: health, equity and economic growth. 

Keywords: water access, land access, economic growth, women's poverty

Topics: Economies, Environment, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Senegal

Year: 2014


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