REPORT on Gender Plenary Session:
Gender Plenary Session V:
Integrating Gender Perspectives ERealising new Options for Improved Water Management
International Conference on Freshwater, 3-7 December 2001, Bonn, Germany
International Congress Centre EBundeshaus Bonn: PLENARY HALL BUNDESHAUS
- Bärbel Dieckmann, Major of Bonn, Germany Chair
- Diane M. Quarless, Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the UN, Jamaica Co-Chair
- Jon Lane, United Kingdom Co-Chair
- Jennifer Francis, Gender and Water Alliance Facilitator
I Presentation: Water, Gender and PovertyE/font>
Ms Barbara Schreiner, senior water resource manager in the Department of Water Affairs
and Forestry in South Africa.
There are several key points that have been raised. Particularly important are:
The recognition of the importance of water in todays world. The way water is managed
needs to be changed if we are to achieve sustainable development.
A gender-sensitive approach is one crucial part of that change. Poverty eradication is crucial
to the future of the world, and a key element of sustainable development.
By understanding the different roles of women and men in water management, recognition is
given to the roles of especially of poor women and men. On this basis it is necessary to
change the power balance so that women and men, at all levels of society can participate
equally in the management of water.
A gender-sensitive approach is not limited to the development of an appropriate policy, but to
its implementation through a concrete strategy. Such a strategy has a number of facets, a
key one of which is training and capacity building. Other elements include facilitating the
equal participation of women and men; setting clear targets and indicators of success; and
setting up conflict resolution mechanisms. Above all, such a strategy requires those with
technical expertise to learn to listen, to especially poor men and to poor women who have
important expertise and understanding of their own experience to bring to the table.
II Major points of discussion
The discussion was focused on three main issues:
The discussion looked at good examples as well as obstacles and derived at the following:
- Integration of gender perspectives at the policy level
- Implementation of gender perspectives at the institutional level
- Implementation of gender perspectives at the project level
Remark: It was recognised, that sanitation failed to be mentioned in the discussion although
it is crucial in addressing gender issues.
- Poverty alleviation goes hand in hand with gender integration as it takes into account
the different needs of women and men and balances the scale through equitable
- Gender is a crosscutting issue and should be mainstreamed within the integrated
sectoral approach. It is no longer a stand alone issue.
- Change in legislation is still required to ensure the equal rights of women and men to
- Implementation of gender policies should be developed at all levels from international
and national levels.
- There is a need to collect gender disaggregated data to reflect existing inequities.
With this monitoring of progress is possible and where necessary affirmative action
can be taken to improve the situation.
- Traditional roles of women have to be recognised. However, it is crucial to look into
the distribution of work, decision making and benefits of development.
- Water is vital to improving the lives of women, however education and training for
women and girls are just as important for water security.
- Technology should be checked for its appropriateness before it is transferred to
- Implementation of gender perspectives has proven to be very successful at the
community level but is still difficult at large scales. To improve large scale
implementation decentralised decision making is required to promote participatory
and innovative approaches as well as commitment.
- The Bonn Recommendations on gender should be followed up during the Earth
Summit on Sustainable Development.
III Policy Implication and Recommended Actions
(Prepared and delivered by the Gender and Water Alliance, of which broad
consensus was reached in the plenary.)
- Planners must include a gender perspective systematically in the development of all
national and regional water resources policies and programmes.
- The collection of gender disaggregated data by governments and all water
management organisations is essential to distinguish differences in needs, interests,
and priorities in water resources management.
- Donors and governments are requested to include gender impact assessments for all
water projects, in order to ensure equal responsibilities and benefits among women
and men, including distribution of work, paid opportunities and capacity building.
- Water management is closely tied to land tenure arrangements. Governments should
revise laws and policies to ensure women equal rights to both water and land.
- All water management organisations from the community to the basin level and
higher should include effective representation of women and men of all socia l strata.
Where representation is unbalanced, affirmative action is required based on clear
- Technology choices, management regimes and regulatory frameworks have different
impacts on women and men. Governments and all water management organisations
must analyse and monitor these impacts with feedback at all levels.
- Governments, donors and all water management organisations should target capacity
building and training to:
- Build capacity of women to manage water and related financial resources to
improve efficient water use;
- Increase scientific and technical education of women; and
- Support water professionals in integrating gender perspectives in their
programmes and projects.
- 98% of rural women classified as economically active are involved in agriculture.
Governments and water management organisations must provide training and credit
for women to improve efficiency of land and water use for food production.
- The United Nations, reporting under the Convention of the Elimination of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) should include indicators relating to gender
- All the above recommendations should be monitored and progress reported back to
the Johannesburg Earth Summit 2002 and the Third World Water Forum.