Over the past two decades, the connected issues of gender and water have received considerable international policy attention. Principle 3 of the 1992 Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development (ICWE, 1992) recognized women’s central role in provisioning, managing and safeguarding water. Agenda 21, the action plan that resulted from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, strongly supported women’s involvement in water management, governance and education (UNCED, 1992, see for example sections 18.12n; 18.19; 18.33; 18.34d; 18.45). The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation from the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development includes an agreement to: “support capacity-building for water and sanitation infrastructure and services development, ensuring that such infrastructure and services meet the needs of the poor and are gender- sensitive” (WSSD, 2002, paragraph 25a). Similarly, in 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights confirmed, in its General Comment on the Right to Water, women’s important roles in water collection (CESCR, 2003).
Overview of resources on gender-sensitive data related to water
In many countries, women are the main providers and managers of water at the household level. Women’s productive and reproductive roles are often highly dependent on water and differently dependent than men’s. Many small-scale location-specific studies suggest that women and men express different priorities for water use and conservation and “household”-level analyses have limited value in revealing these kinds of gendered patterns. Access, use, management and authority over water resources are all highly gendered. For these reasons, women constitute distinctive key stakeholders in water policy and programmes – and are treated as such, at least in declarations of interest and in most major policy platforms in development broadly, and in water and sanitation sectors specifically.
Icon image: Wikimedia Commons - Woman collecting water