Central Asian International Scientific-Practical Conference “Water Partnership in Central Asia”

Session “Womens role in water resources management and use”

26-28 May 2004, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Particular role of women in water resources management and use is the theme of special meeting within the framework of the conference. More active participation of women in water management is the guarantee of water sector sustainability as well as equitable and productive water use. The participants of the conference discussed the issues how should international experience be applied in Central Asia in this regard.

Resolution of the session “Womens role in water resources management and use”

The sweeping changes brought about by transition in the countries of Central Asia have greatly affected the economies of these countries and the living standards of their populations. As a result of this, both men and women in Central Asia have paid a price.

Transition has increased the gender gap in employment opportunities, increased gender inequalities in education, decreased the quality and availability of health services, increased womens vulnerability including domestic violence against women, and enhanced traditional stereotypical values and behaviours.

Within the agriculture water management sector, gender disparities are seen in inheritance of land and the social reality of their claim to communal property, access to water, participation in carrying different responsibilities, control of resources, capacity and skill to participate in agriculture water management , access to markets and commercial linkages.

If we are going to tackle gender issues in Central Asian Countries, the following need to be addressed:

At the Macro level:

We will need to:

  • Raise the awareness of policy makers, water managers, water users and women and men themselves, of the fact that economic transition and economic development are not Gender neutral.
  • Strengthen information and analytical capacity we need reliable information on baseline gender differentials and on the gender impact of policies, programs and reforms
  • Support gender sensitive and participatory operations designed to address specific gender issues
  • Foster greater collaboration between all stakeholders government, NGOs, civil society and communities in water management
  • Incorporate gender approaches in the development of the legislative basic in water sector

At the Micro level:

We will need to:

  • Publicly recognize women as irrigators, through joint membership into Water User Associations and Canal Water Committees
  • Set targets and quotas for women in representative structures of water management organizations
  • Facilitate women landowners to formalize their land and water rights
  • Build both male and female Awareness and Capacity on gender issues and its relation to water management
  • Develop qualified extension services to farmers
  • Increase the access of women to micro-credit facilities and financial sectors
  • Challenge the rigid norm that irrigation is, only and exclusively, a male affair

We the participants of the gender and water session, representative of government, NGOs, international agencies, farmers, research institutes and universities of Central Asia recognize that gender is central to water management. Water and agriculture projects and programs have failed to incorporate gender issues within their operations and we have collectively agreed to form a network on an informal basis to undertake specific activities as a first step in changing this reality.

The objectives of this network will be to:

  • raise awareness of the issues of gender in the region
  • attain knowledge and understanding of gender issues in water management
  • exchange experience and best practice of gender sensitive water management

We have agreed to further develop our initiative into a full project proposal. The network calls upon the GWP CACENA to play a coordinating role in fundraising and SIC ICWC to act as the information sharing center.

In conclusion, we believe that improved gender relations will increase effectiveness and efficiency in water productivity, water management and increase the general well being of very man, woman and child in Central Asia.