About the Book
Across the south Asia region, water determines livelihoods and in some cases even survival. However, water also creates exclusions. Access to water, and its social organization, are intimately tied up with power relations. This book provides an overview of gender, equity and water issues relevant to south Asia. The essays empirically illustrate and theoretically argue how gender intersects with other axes of social difference such as class, caste, ethnicity, age and religion to shape water access, use and management practices. Divided into six thematic sections, each of which starts with an introduction of relevant concepts, debates and theories, the book looks at laws and rights, policies, technologies and intervention strategies. In all, the book clearly shows how understanding, and changing the use, distribution and management of water is conditional upon understanding and accommodating gender relations.
About the Author
Margreet Zwarteveen works as a researcher and lecturer at the irrigation and water engineering group of wageningen university the Netherlands.
Sara Ahmed is senior programme specialist with Canada's international development research centre, and is based in the south Asia regional office in New Delhi.
Suman Rimal Gautam works in agriculture and water resources development and management from her base in the greater Washington DC area.
Every book is a journey and this one is no different. Diverting the Flow is the fruit of relations of friendship, research collaboration and new partnerships. It is the result of researchers and professionals from the south and the north, who came together to share their visions, experiences and innovative ideas on water in South Asia in an effort to produce a useful overview of gender questions that are relevant to those working in the sector. The idea for the book originated with the Crossing Boundaries Project, a regional capacity-building project on integrated water resources management (IWRM) and gender in South Asia. As part of its knowledge development goals, the Crossing Boundaries Project set out to support the development of teaching and training resources on a range of water and society issues. Gender is prominent among these. The main aim of this book is to provide an overview of relevant gender, equity and water issues in South Asia that can be used in university teaching for students studying water management and in larger capacity building efforts with civil society and government actors.
In October 2006, we organised a workshop in Hyderabad which brought together water experts from the different South Asian universities who were part of the project. The objective of the workshop was for all of us to gain greater awareness of relevant gender questions for our areas of work and research, and to become familiar with concepts and methods to formulate and understand key questions. Many of the participants at the workshop had little or no prior knowledge of gender, but all of us were interested and committed to learn. The workshop marked the start of this book's journey, since it also brought together many of its authors, who had produced first drafts of their chapters. We decided to use part of the workshop to invite the water experts to critically read and review these chapters, and to directly discuss them with the authors. The resulting sessions turned out to be deeply inspiring and insightful, and brought about interesting, sometimes hilarious, but often very truthful conversations and debates between water experts (mostly male engineers) and gender experts (mostly female social scientists). Water experts forced the gender experts to clearly explain their ideas and concepts, and were critical of their use of jargon. They also continuously challenged the gender experts to make explicit the implications of their insights for water management policies and practice. Gender experts prompted the water experts to start questioning rather than assuming their norms and ideas about gender, about gendered abilities and roles or about how women and men should behave.
These discussions between water experts and gender experts taught us, the editors of this book, that the boundaries that indeed exist between the two can be crossed and bridged. And we learned that doing this successfully stands or falls with the willingness to listen to each other, and with the ability to empathise with each other's perspectives. It is in this respect that we want to express our genuine thanks to all those who participated in the workshop for having taken the time and effort to do precisely this. It made us realise that change is possible, and also greatly helped us in (re-)shaping the book to make sure it meets the expectations and demands of (future) water policy makers, managers and researchers in South Asia. We are also grateful to Backwaters for having organised the workshop and for DGIS (the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation) for having made it and the production of this book financially possible.
A number of people at SaciWaters have supported the development of this book, including Nimal Gunawerdena, who was the Executive Director of when we started this project and Chanda Gurung, the current Director; Hemalatha Paul, the efficient office manager who patiently followed up with contributors over the past five years, Arpita De and Renuka Raghava who helped with editing and most importantly, Anjal Prakash, Senior Fellow, who has been consistently, but gently, pushing us to finish this book! At Wageningen University, we would like to thank to Yamile Julio Castillo for helping to get the book in shape; her efficiency and order greatly contributed to producing a first and neat draft. Finally, we would like to thank WEDO (Women's Environment and Development Organization in New York) for allowing us to 'borrow' the title of one of their publications (Diverting the Flow. A Resource Guide to Gender, Rights and Water Privatization, 2003).
This book has been a long while in the publication pipeline and we would like to warmly thank all our contributors for bearing with us and with the numerous transitions in our lives that have inevitably delayed completion. To Urvashi Butalia and the team at Zubaan we owe a debt of gratitude for being prompt yet flexible in helping us tidy up the last few bits and pieces. And finally to our partners, children and friends, many of whom are authors in this publication, we simply want to thank you for sharing this journey with us.
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