Rethinking domestic water resource management: a shift from gender–biased to gender–based approach

19 November 2014

Historically, socially and economically, women in many societies have been given the onerous responsibility of travelling long distances, often in unfavourable weather conditions, to carry home containers of water on their heads for drinking and domestic purposes. Women are over-represented in performing these tasks but are under-represented in offering a significant contribution in water management at decision-making levels. This article aims to explore and analyse the definitive transferral of gender responsibility from ‘carrying’ water to ‘carrying responsibility’ for water. The article [qualitative] builds on a literature review, policy regulations and case-studies that reflect transformational reallocation of set tasks and explores the way forward to utilise water as a means of enhancing gender empowerment. The article recommends the use of gender disaggregated data and a close consideration of gender-based and gender-sensitive approaches in defining water policies. Importantly, scope is also left for further investigation of strategies and policies which promote gender empowerment in and through water programmes. The article emphasises the roles of women in water resource management in South Africa as a case study.