Chapter 4 Gender Mainstreaming the Project Cycle 127
Throughout the developing world, the water and gender scenario is all too familiar: women labour to provide water for household needs while men make decisions about water resources management and development at both local and national levels. We believe projects, programmes and policies that address gender inequalities will enhance both water resources management and human development opportunities for both men and women.
In many cases the analysis of gender perspectives in relation to water resources must be context-specific. Productive versus domestic use of water, women’s and men’s access to and control over water, and land, credit and extension services are examples of issues that need to be addressed. The now abundant literature about gender relations in water management has been inventoried for easy access by all users. In the process, many valuable resources have been identified and compiled. But gaps in information have also emerged, showing the need for further research in this sector.
The initial UNDP Resource Guide for Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management was launched during the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto in 2003. The feedback received since then has shaped this second, totally revised version introduced in March 2006 during the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico. The new edition is available in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Most sections of the latter three versions are translations from English, but some are original texts specific to the language region. Such an approach gives scope for much wider distribution and utilization of the Resource Guide.
This edition of the Resource Guide divides the resources among thirteen water sub-sectors, to facilitate access for specific purposes and water uses. Introductions to the sectors describe current debates and gender issues. References, resources (including manuals and guidelines), case studies and relevant websites are all grouped by sub-sector. The Gender and Water Alliance writers of this document tried to keep in mind easy reading and clear categorization throughout the writing process. Nevertheless, readers are advised to browse through the whole Resource Guide when in search of useful and interesting documents.
With this Resource Guide, UNDP, GWA, IRC, Cap-Net and GWP seek to assist water professionals, politicians, gender specialists and others in their efforts to provide improved access to water for poor women, children and men all over the world. We welcome users’ assistance in the form of comments, additions, case studies and other feedback for future editions and for the regular updating of the website version of the Resource Guide at www.genderandwater.org/
Olav Kjørven Ethne Davey
Energy and Environment Group Steering Committee
Bureau for Development Policy Gender and Water Alliance
United Nations Development Programme (GWA)
We are very pleased with the outcome of the excellent collaboration on this second edition of the Resource Guide for Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management. This new edition has been greatly expanded and improved. It includes sub-sector overviews, additional resources and case studies, all of that in four languages, and some of the resources in five languages. Most of the texts are translated from English, some from Spanish and French.
Many people, women and men, and organisations have made significant contributions to the completion of this work, and we are indebted to all those who worked so hard to achieve it. We thank all those who strengthened the new contents by giving feedback and suggestions for improvements when invited to do so via the various e-mail listservs and web sites. The Gender and Water Alliance is honoured to have been entrusted to update the Resource Guide by the organisations providing the necessary finance: The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Special thanks go to the main authors, our GWA partners Prabha Khosla and Sara Ahmed, and their team of contributing authors including Maria Angelica Alegria, Khadouja Mellouli, Mame Dagou Diop, Pauline Ikumi, Noma Neseni and Betty Soto who surfed the internet to find new and relevant resources, who wrote, rewrote, read and revised texts, who screened and adapted case studies. A special thank you also to Marcia Brewster, Task Manager of the UN Interagency Task Force on Gender and Water, for her professional editing and rewriting. The translators Susana Carrera, Hela Gharbi and Nizar Dridi, had the difficult task to be at the end of the chain, trying to complete their translations in haste when everything else had been completed. Their work is highly valued.
Serious attempts have been made to acknowledge all authors of case studies which were selected to be included in full in the Resource Guide. If sometimes this has not been adequate, we request authors to notify GWA so that we can make corrections in the website and in the next version.
We thank the partner organisations in this endeavor for their valuable contributions: UNDP, IRC, Cap-Net and GWP. IRC has taken on herself the technical process of producing the web pages and CD-Rom, without which all the writing would not have been accessible. Cap-Net gave useful advice and took care of reproduction.
The Resource Guide will be updated regularly and is available in the GWA website www.genderandwater.org as well as via links in the partners’ websites. All comments and additions are welcome.
Gender and Water Alliance
Acronyms and Abbreviations
CapNet Capacity Building for Integrated Water Resources Management
CBOs Community-Based Organisations
FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation
GRBIs Gender-Responsive Budget Initiatives
GWA Gender and Water Alliance
GWP Global Water Partnership
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre
IUCN The World Conservation Union
IWRM Integrated Water Resources Management
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
NGOs Non-Governmental Organisations
O&M Operations and Maintenance
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
WATSAN Water and Sanitation
WSSD World Summit on Sustainable Development
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Guide 1.1. What is this Resource Guide?
This is the second edition of the Resource Guide on Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management, first published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2003. The Guide is a reference document to assist water and gender practitioners and professionals as well as persons responsible for gender mainstreaming, and anybody else who is interested in the water sector. It is a compilation of newer resources – documents, papers, books, case studies, tools and toolkits - on gender mainstreaming in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). It is meant to support action and further reading and research. New sector overviews have been added, particularly those relating to current issues and debates.
1.2. Why was it developed?
The Guide was developed in response to an identified need for information on gender mainstreaming in IWRM. While considerable information exits, it is dispersed among different institutions and organizations, making it difficult to know where to get specific resources for particular aspects of gender mainstreaming in the water sectors. This Guide supports the efforts of those trying to mainstream gender in their programmes and projects and those seeking to improve their knowledge and skills in gender and IWRM.
1.3. What are its objectives?
The resource guide is meant to:
Facilitate access to available literature and resources regarding gender and IWRM;
Improve the sustainability and effectiveness of water-related activities through incorporation of gender equality and social equity analysis;
Improve understanding and awareness of gender concepts through an easy reference to existing materials, cases, and tools; and
Improve approaches to the planning, implementation, management and monitoring of IWRM.
1.4. How was it developed?
The development of the Resource Guide has been an interactive process involving consultants, water practitioners, gender specialists and programme officers working in different water sectors and in different continents. The compilation of this 2nd edition was coordinated by the Gender and Water Alliance (GWA) with the technical contribution of the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC). The GWA, IRC, CapNet, UNDP and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) collaborated in this effort while the UNDP provided the financing.
1.5. How should it be used?
The Resource Guide is not a set of guidelines, nor is it a step-by-step tool kit for gender mainstreaming. It is a reference guide that should be used in conjunction with the texts and materials to which it refers. It gives a brief overview and summary of issues within the different sub-sectors of IWRM and is designed to raise awareness and promote learning and analysis on the relevant social equity and gender issues. Chapters and sections make it easy for those interested in particular topics to specifically zero in on them. It may be useful to review those sections of interest first, rather than trying to read the Guide from cover to cover. Other sections provide users with additional materials and resources that are valuable for a holistic approach to water resources management.
Chapter 2 Gender and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
2.1. Introducing IWRM
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a systematic process for the sustainable development, allocation, and monitoring of water resources. The concept and principles of IWRM were articulated at the International Conference on Water and Environment held in Dublin in 1992 and in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21, a consensus document from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio also of 1992.
IWRM is a cross-sectoral holistic approach to water management, in response to the growing competing demands for finite freshwater supplies. It is an approach that aims to ensure the coordinated development of water, land and related resources to optimize economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of environmental systems (Global Water Partnership, 2000). Policy makers, analysts, international organizations and governments have sought consensus on principles to guide the setting of priorities, policy making and the elaboration of specific initiatives in IWRM. Key principles include:
Water should be treated as an economic, social, and environmental good.
Water policies should focus on the management of water as a whole and not just on the provision of water.
Governments should facilitate and enable the sustainable development of water resources by the provision of integrated water policies and regulatory frameworks.
Water resources should be managed at the lowest appropriate level.
Women should be recognised as central to the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
The application of IWRM as a philosophy, policy, and implementation guideline can assist in addressing the:
Need for improved water governance and for increased coordination and collaboration among various water sectors, such as drinking water supply and sanitation, irrigation, and ecosystem maintenance.
Potential competition and conflicts among different stakeholders from all sectors and among individuals, communities, and governments.
Environmental degradation that is threatening all life on the planet.
Gender and social disparities in terms of equitable access to and control over resources, benefits, costs, and decision making between women and men.
Need for sustainable water resources development as a key to poverty eradication.
2.2. Introducing Gender
Gender mainstreaming is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men equally and inequality by transforming the mainstream (ECOSOC, 1997, emphasis added).
In the area of water resources management, an uncoordinated and sectoral approach has resulted in environmental degradation from overexploitation of water resources, inappropriate allocations among competing uses, inequitable distribution of benefits and burdens, and inadequate operation and maintenance of infrastructure. Inadequate involvement of both women and men has hindered programmes and projects aimed at addressing sustainability in water resources management. Community participation and management approaches have failed to address these issues, largely because communities are often seen as a collection of people with a common purpose.
The reality is that a community is not a collection of equal people living in a particular geographic region. It is usually made up of individuals and groups who command different levels of power, wealth, influence and ability to express their needs, concerns and rights. Communities contain competing interest groups. Where resources are scarce, there is competition for supplies, and those at the lowest end of the power spectrum - poor women and men - will go without. Unequal power relations place women in a disadvantaged position. Applying a gender analysis helps water sector agencies allocate their resources better to meet the needs of different women and men and marginalized groups.
People-centred approaches do not always ensure that gender perspectives are taken into account. Thus, a deliberate strategy of gender mainstreaming can be useful to ensure that these issues [what issues?] are part of analysis, programme and project planning, implementation, and evaluation. More importantly, gender mainstreaming can assist in bringing about institutional and organisational change necessary to ensure gender equality as an on-going commitment.
2.3. Defining Gender
Gender refers to the different roles, rights, and responsibilities of men and women and the relationship between them. Gender does not simply refer to women or men, but to the way their qualities, behaviours, and identities are determined through the process of socialization. Gender is generally associated with unequal power and access to choices and resources. The different roles of women and men are influenced by historical, religious, economic and cultural realities. These roles and responsibilities can and do change over time.
In this Guide, the use of the term gender also recognises the intersection of women’s experience of discrimination and violations of human rights not only on the basis of their gender but also from other power relations that result from race, ethnicity, caste, class, age, ability/disability, religion, and a multiplicity of other factors including whether they are indigenous.
Women and men are defined in different ways in different societies; the relations they share constitute what is known as gender relations. Gender relations constitute and are constructed by a range of institutions such as the family, legal systems, or the market. Gender relations are hierarchical relations of power between women and men and tend to disadvantage women. These hierarchies are often accepted as ‘natural’ but are socially determined relations, culturally based, and subject to change over time. Gender relations are dynamic, characterised by both conflict and co-operation, and mediated by other axes of stratification, including caste, class, age and marital status or position in the family.
Sex differences such as the ability to give birth are biologically determined and are different from socially prescribed gender roles.
Recognising the above, a gender analysis refers to a systematic way of looking at the different impacts of development on women and men. Gender analysis requires separating data by sex and understanding how labour is divided and valued. Gender analysis must be done at all stages of the development process; one must always ask how a particular activity, decision, or plan will affect women differently from men (Parker, 1993).
2.4. The Historical Framework of Gender
Women and Gender approaches in development have evolved over past decades.
Until the early 1970s, development policies addressed the needs of poor women entirely in the context of their role as wives and mothers. Known now as the ‘welfare’ approach, the focus was on mother and child health, childcare, and nutrition. It was assumed that the benefits of macro-economic strategies oriented towards modernization and growth would trickle down to the poor, and that poor women would benefit as the economic position of their husbands improved. Women were passive recipients of benefits. Water and sanitation services were defined in the context of health care and hygiene, which were seen as women’s responsibilities.
From the 1970s and 1980s, the Women in Development (WID) approach aimed to integrate women into the existing development process by targeting them, often in women-specific activities. Women were usually passive recipients in WID projects, which often emphasized making women more efficient producers and increasing their income. Although many WID projects improved health, income, or resources in the short term, they did not transform unequal relationships, and a significant number were not sustainable. A common shortcoming of WID projects was that they did not consider women’s multiple roles or that they miscalculated the elasticity of women’s time and labour.
From the late 1980s on, the Gender and Development (GAD) approach was developed with the objective of removing disparities in social, economic, and political balances between women and men as a pre-condition for achieving people-centred development. Much of the work in the water sectors today is informed by this approach. However, there are many perspectives in this approach and no one blueprint for enabling equality and equity in water resources management.
Both WID and GAD approaches are still in use.
In recent years, a gender and empowerment approach has attempted to transform existing gender relations by stressing women’s self-empowerment.
2.5. Principles of IWRM and their Gender Implications1
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) offers an opportunity to create a paradigm shift in water resources management. The global environmental crisis, growing poverty in urban and rural areas, and continued gender inequalities all point to the need for a different governance approach to water use and management.
Applying this approach requires cohesion among the different institutions, policy, and regulatory frameworks and deliberate measures that take account of environmental sustainability and an intersectional analysis. Gender in this context is not a sufficient point of analysis without also considering intersecting identities of race, class, caste, ethnicity, age, ability, and geographical location.
Water should be treated as an economic, social, and environmental good.
Freshwater is valuable and limited. Water supply services and infrastructure are economic activities, while at the same time, access to basic water supply is a fundamental human right. Water use for sanitation and domestic purposes, which tends to be the responsibility of women, should be incorporated into the assessments of economic values of the use of water. Women often have no rights to land and water, and development efforts may negatively affect their livelihoods.
Water supply needs to be paid for, taking into account people’s ability to pay. Women’s interests and gender relations are often overlooked. If charges for domestic water supply have to be paid, both men and women should be involved in determining the rates. Even though women often do not have control over cash, they are still expected to pay for water and sanitation, more than men, because they are the main users and it is considered their responsibility A gender and social equity analysis of demands is required.
Access to basic amounts of water supply as a social good and human right needs to be included in policies and planning. Increased charges for water should not apply to meeting basic human needs and should not reduce water consumption for cooking and hygiene.
Water policies should focus on the management of water and not just on the provision of water.
The private sector can play a role in providing water supply services for greater efficiency. National governments need to retain responsibility for oversight of water quality and for regulating and monitoring private providers. The government is also responsible for ensuring that the water supply needs of the whole population are met. Companies solely interested in making a profit will not be concerned about low-income households, domestic water users and those who use water sources and water catchments for their basic necessities of life. Women are heavily represented in these categories.
With increased privatisation, capacity building of local communities becomes more important, and it should be ensured that women and men benefit equally in and from it.
Governments should facilitate and enable the sustainable development of water resources through the provision of integrated water resources policies and regulatory frameworks.
Holistic water management is needed because actions taken in one water sector have an impact on water availability, quantity and quality in another. Such impact is different for men and women between and even within households, according to sex, age and status.
At higher levels coordination within countries and ministries is necessary, including at lower levels, and women’s interests and rights need to be taken into account.
Water resources should be managed at the lowest appropriate level.
Participation by all stakeholders leads to better water management. Because of women’s traditional roles in water resources management, they have knowledge which should be included in planning and practice.
The lowest level is most important to ensure that decisions are supported by those who implement water projects on the ground. These are often women. Female-headed households tend to have less bargaining power in communities than male-headed households. A specific effort to include them is needed.
Women should be recognised as central to the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
Campaigns to reduce water wastage should target men and women and especially industries and institutions that waste water.
Women’s skills and knowledge are crucial for the effective and efficient management of water.
More attention is needed to control pollution and to improve water quality and sanitation for the benefit of women who collect domestic water and to improve health.
2.6. Why use a gender perspective in Integrated Water Resources Management?
A gender perspective in IWRM is necessary for a variety of reasons, as outlined in the sections below.
2.6.1. Concern for effectiveness and efficiency in water sector programmes and projects.
Involving both women and men in integrated water resources initiatives can increase project effectiveness and efficiency. Participation by both women and men improves project performance and improves the likelihood of sustainability. In other words, a project is more likely to achieve what planners hope it will achieve if women and men (both rich and poor) are active participants and decision makers.
In addition to a vast body of anecdotal evidence, three specific studies have looked at this issue:
Voice and Choice for Women - Linkages on Demand, Gender and Poverty from 44 Water Schemes in Asia and Africa. A research project of the UNDP/World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme.
Preliminary findings appear to validate the hypothesis that water services will be better sustained and used by the communities if institutions and policies enable the communities (men and women, rich and poor) to initiate the service, take informed decisions about the type of service management and financing systems and build capacities to maintain and manage the services so that burdens and benefits are equitably shared (see www.wsp.org/English/index.html).
A World Bank review of 121 rural water supply projects
This review found that women’s participation was among the variables strongly associated with project effectiveness. Furthermore, it was found that the failure to take gender differences and inequalities into account can result in failed projects. For example, in India, compost pits located outside villages went unused, and women continued to deposit waste near their homes - even when fined for doing so - because they did not wish to be seen carrying loads of refuse to the outskirts of the village. If there had been consultation with women, perhaps this problem could have been avoided (Narayan, 1995).
IRC study of Community Water Supply and Sanitation projects
A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water supply and sanitation projects in 88 communities in 15 countries found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not involve women as full partners (Wijk-Sijbesma, 2001).
Although research has tended to focus on the water supply and sanitation sector, the same trend can be seen in other water sectors as well. The positive impact of paying attention to gender issues can be seen in the Philippines Communal Irrigation Development Project. This project exceeded physical development targets and appraisal estimates of irrigation intensity and paddy yields. The project’s success has been attributed to the full participation of the intended beneficiaries. Theproject partly draws on a tradition of farmer-built irrigation systems and responds to a cultural context in which women exercise independent land rights. The project’s success in the community was attributable to: Recruitment of community organizers, two-thirds of whom are women; ensuring membership of both spouses in water user associations; and actively encouraging women to assume leadership roles. It was also noted that women’s membership facilitated the payment of fees, because women controlled family finances (Quisuimbing, 1994).
2.6.2. Concern for environmental sustainability
Women and men around the world play distinct roles in managing plants and animals, in use of forests, drylands, wetlands and agriculture. Moreover, gender roles are differentiated in collecting water, fuel, and fodder for domestic use, and in generating income. Due to their distinctive engagements with the natural environment, women’s experience and knowledge are critical for environmental management (UNEP, 2004). Using a gender perspective and enabling the integration of women’s knowledge of the environment will increase the chances of environmental sustainability.
A watershed management project was initiated in a fragile area of a cloud forest in Mindanao, Philippines. A lake used to generate electricity was silting up from deforestation and soil erosion. There was a need to reduce soil loss and to engage local institutions in monitoring soil loss and soil recovery. The project first invited young men to monitor the water to determine whether the techniques being used for soil conservation were reducing the silting. However, the men were not consistent in monitoring. Women farmers, as well, were brought in to monitor the water without much success. The project then determined that women were more interested in health issues than soil loss. As women learned about how water quality affected the health of their families and the programme expanded to include monitoring for e coli bacteria, women became interested and participated. This led to their further engagement in a wider range of environmental activities. Ultimately, the community’s involvement led to positive outcomes, such as an increase in the adoption of soil conservation techniques by both men and women farmers (Diamond, et al., 1997).
2.6.3. Need for an accurate analysis of water resources use
Social and economic analyses are incomplete without an understanding of gender and social differences and inequalities. With a gender analysis, planners gain a more accurate picture of communities, natural resource uses, households and water users. Understanding the differences among and between women and men (who does what work, who makes which decisions, who uses water for what purpose, who controls which resources, who is responsible for different family obligations, etc.) is part of a good analysis and can contribute to more effective results.
In Bangladesh, despite the widespread perception that gender issues were not relevant in the impact of floods and flood prevention plans, there are several ways that differences and inequalities among women and men are relevant. Women are responsible for the production and processing of farm food products and for the preparation of food resources in households in rural Bangladesh. Water-related hazards, such as early flash floods, can damage not only the fields producing crops, but also food stores and processing equipment, driving up the prices of food staples. Any disruption in food supply will impact a woman’s ability to eke out a living from existing resources. Women’s lack of mobility also limits alternative strategies for coping with stress on family resources, especially if she is the head of household owing to male migration or desertion (Thomas et al, 1993).
The differences and inequalities between women and men influence how individuals respond to changes in water resources management. Understanding gender roles, relations, and inequalities can help explain the choices people make and their different options.
In Alto Piura, Peru female farmers complained that they always had to irrigate at night, in spite of the official rule that night turns should be equally distributed among irrigators. Since male irrigators had better relations with the irrigators’ committee and with the water delegate, they were often more successful in negotiating day turns (from Zwarteveen 1997). If a project aims to provide all irrigators and farmers with equitable access to water resources, then strategies are required to deal with this specific difficulty faced by women.
Gender relations and inequalities influence collective responses to water resource management issues. Women and men tend to organize in different ways. Women often face specific obstacles to participating in a project, joining a water-users committee, or providing input into a consultation session.
Poor women are less likely to be elected to positions on water committees or village development committees. When asked about the criteria used to elect people to positions of responsibility in the village, interviewees in Zimbabwe repeatedly mentioned two qualifications: i) someone they could respect (for position, influence, hard work or ability to forge consensus over difficult issues), and ii) someone with resources such as a bicycle or cash who could represent the village at district headquarters when required. In addition to not meeting those qualifications, poor women generally have greater constraints on time and labour resources than other women or men. They and their children are likely to be in poorer health and they therefore could benefit most from improvements that bring water supplies closer to their homes. However they are least likely to participate in the collective decision-making that will bring this about (Cleaver, 1998).
2.6.4. Concern for gender equality, equity and empowerment
Without specific attention to gender issues and initiatives, projects can reinforce inequalities between women and men and even increase gender disparaties. Although many initiatives are thought to be ‘gender neutral’, this is rarely the case. Projects and programmes often bring new resources (training, tools, technology, etc.). Whether someone is male or female can influence whether he or she can take advantage of these opportunities. Programmes need to enable both women and men to benefit equally from water initiatives. Gaps between rich and poor women can often increase as a result of development interventions.
An initiative can also serve to reinforce existing inequalities, even when there may be opportunities to help support people’s efforts to build more equitable societies and economies. The importance of specific attention to gender and diversity issues is all the more critical given the generally low profile of these issues among many water professionals.
2.6.5. Realisation of international commitments by governments and partners
Governments and development agencies have made commitments to support equality between women and men and to use a gender perspective in all programmes and projects, including those related to water and the environment. Specific commitments include:
The results of and follow-up to the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990) were discussed in consultations in New Delhi in 1990.Although these consultations were limited on the discussion of gender issues, there was a clear call for an increase in women’s decision-making and management of water resources.
The Dublin Statement (1992), endorsed by over 100 countries, recognises that women play a central part in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water resources. It recognises the pivotal role of women as providers and users of water and guardians of the living environment and for this reality to be reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of water resources.
Principle 20 of the Rio Declaration (1992) states, “Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development”. Agenda 21 (1992) contains a chapter on women and sustainable development (Chapter 24) and a chapter on water management (chapter 18).
The Beijing Platform for Action (1995) highlighted environmental issues as one critical area of concern - “gender inequalities in the management and safeguarding of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment”. Three strategic objectives were agreed: (1) To involve women actively in environmental decision making at all levels; (2) To integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable development; and (3) To strengthen or establish mechanisms to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women.
The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), para 25(a), includes agreement by governments 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.”
In December 2003 the General Assembly proclaimed (resolution 58/217), the period 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Life’, and called for a focus on the implementation of water-related programmes and projects, “whilst striving to ensure women’s participation and involvement in water-related development efforts …”.
The Millennium Development Goals, which have the same time frame as the ‘Water for Life’ Decade, include 2015 targets on gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as on safe water and sanitation.