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Training workshop on “Basics of gender theory and gender analysis methodologies in water and agriculture”, Tashkent, 2-4 March 2005

A regional training seminar “Basics of Gender Theory and Gender Analysis Methodologies in Water and Agriculture” took place on 2-4 March 2005 at the ICWC Training Center in Tashkent.

To implement the principles of integrated water resources management that were stated at the International Conference on Water and Environment (Dublin, 1992), including the principle of involving all stakeholders in water related activities, and emphasize that women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water, the SIC ICWC is developing an initiative on gender awareness in water sector in Central Asian states. In 2004, the SIC ICWC held a series of measures in this respect, including a special session within the International Scientific-Practical Conference “Water Partnership in Central Asia”, sociological surveys in a number of districts in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to identify gender problems in water resources use and management at field level, and a meeting with the participation of rural women in Fergana city.

The aim of this seminar was to familiarize water specialists in Central Asian states with the gender concepts and methodical instruments for using it in their activities.

Representatives of water organizations and NGOs from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took part in the seminar.

Gender specialists trained in socio-economic and gender analysis methods (SEAGA), Dr. D. Alimdjanova, Director of the Center for Gender Studies and gender advisor for Development Support Services Programme of the Government of Uzbekistan Supported by UNDP, and Nigora Gapparova, Director of the Youth Center “Ikbol”, were invited as trainers.

In his welcoming speech, Director of the ICWC Training Center Dr. P. Umarov introduced brief historical framework of gender mainstreaming in water resources management, told about the activities of the SIC ICWC in this respect, and familiarized the participants with the aim and agenda of the seminar.

Later, the trainers agreed seminar procedure rules with the participants and fixed participants expectations.

During the two-day training, information about gender approach development and basics of gender theory was presented. Questions on social construction of gender and possibilities of deconstructing it were raised. A special attention was given to consideration of gender aspects in economy, education, gender stereotypes, and legal aspects of gender. At the special session dedicated to gender aspects of agriculture and farming development. Gender mainstreaming in water resources use and management were touched upon. Using SEAGA methodologies, participatory methods ensured that each participant be actively involved in the training process.

The following gender problems in water resources use and management and farming development were identified:

  1. Gender stereotypes impeding women empowerment to the decision-making processes at all levels.
  2. A lack of professional knowledge in the field of water and land resources use
  3. A lack of adequate skills for private farming
  4. A lack of motivation for acquiring specific professions related to agricultural production and water use
  5. Weakly developed rural infrastructure and material-technical base that facilitates domination of manual labor in agriculture and water sector
  6. Absence of access to resources – material, financial, land, water
  7. Absence of economic self-management (independence) of women
  8. Poor education of women, absence of functional competence
  9. Poor legal knowledge among women
  10. Absence of gender approaches at all management levels
  11. Irrational use of budgetary funds directed to training and retraining of specialists in water and agricultural sectors.

Based on the discussions, the following ways to solve the problems were set out:

I. Surveys

  1. Conducting special sociological inter-regional surveys for identifying gender problems in agriculture and water use, including gender issues of professional segregation in education and on labor market.

II. Training

  1. Conducting trainings for raising gender awareness of agricultural workers from macro to local level
  2. Conducting trainings for raising functional competence of farmers and WUA members
  3. Raising awareness of law among farmers and water users
  4. Conducting a large-scale campaign for enhancing the prestige and attractiveness of professions in the field of land and water resources use to attract women and youth to these professions
  5. Raising awareness of hygiene and sanitation among population

III. Advocacy

  1. Establishing information and extension services for farmers that provide educational services, study impact of the present legislation at the local level and provide feed-back.
  2. Involving the mass media in broad information about gender problems in agriculture and water sector, especially in violation of gender equality and farmer rights.
  3. Organizing regular dialogue between farmers, local authorities, legal structures and all stakeholders during the round tables, discussions, meetings, etc. using the results of analysis of appeals from farmers and WUA members to information and extension services.

The second day of the training, questionnaires for evaluating the expectations of the participants as well as the outcomes of the completed work were filled in. The results of the questionnaire poll indicate that urgent and important issues were raised at the training. 16 questionnaires were collected: 7 participants marked that the topics were very useful for them, 9 participants indicated usefulness of the topics. All of the participants noted their activity during the seminar. 8 participants commented that excellent methods were selected for holding the training, and 8 participants evaluated these methods as “good”. It was stated in the comments that it is necessary to systematically conduct such trainings for youth, decision makers, mass media, and rural population, as well as to conduct gender trainings by specialization: gender and different directions of agriculture. It was remarked upon carrying out an inter-regional gender analysis not only in Uzbekistan.

The third day of the seminar was to summarize the activities of the two-day training and discuss further joint actions aimed at gender mainstreaming in water sector. At the concluding session, “United Nations Development Program. Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management. A Real Journey to Sustainability: A Resource Guide” translated with the financial support of the Canadian International Development Agency was presented.

Prof. V.A. Dukhovny launched the concluding session with the presentation on close interrelation of gender, water and development problems. In the report, he put a particular emphasis on the issues of poverty, rational water use in the region, and the role of women in solving water problems.

The delegates from the states made five-minute presentations, at which the most crucial problems of gender perspectives and water resources, and possible ways to solve them were stated. Dr. D.Alimjanova presented the generalized results of the conducted training and ways to solve the identified problems.

In her speech, Dr. G. Stulina elucidated the results of the gender surveys in the regions in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan carried out under the CIDA project “Adaptation to climate change”.

Chief of Kokand branch of the Business Women Association “Tadbirkor Ayol” S.M.Irgasheva was invited to participate in the seminar, and she told about the sociological survey conducted in Kuva district in Fergana province, Uzbekistan by the request of the GWP CACENA and SIC ICWC. She also noted the positive feedback at local level following the survey.

The participants listened with a keen interest to the report of S.S. Mukhamejanov who noted that the necessity and importance of this seminar are caused by the tendency toward activation the role of women in water resources use and management in Central Asia. The lecturer presented information on development of extension services in rural areas taking into account gender perspective.

D. Ziganshina outlined suggestions of the SIC ICWC on gender mainstreaming in water sector in Central Asian states. The main directions of the action are (i) gender-disaggregated data collection and analysis, surveys and analytical reviews, (ii) training with demonstration achievements of gender sensitive increasing land and water productivity in pilot sites, (iii) information gathering and dissemination. The conducting of gender seminars and sociological surveys, launch of a website and a forum on gender problems in water sector, as well as translation of the UNDP’s Guide to Resources on Gender Mainstreaming in Water Management indicate that the proposed action plan is already being implemented.

Technical director of NGO “Eco-Priaralie” S. Turemuratova gave a brief review of gender problems in water sector in Karakalpakstan.

During the discussions, the participants exchanged impressions from the seminar and their own visions on development of this trend. In particular, representative from the Kyrgyz Republic L.S.Mikheyeva thanked on behalf of the participants the trainers for interesting, simple and convincing presentation of new material, as well as the organizers for attracting the attention to the important element of sustainable development. L.S. Mikheyeva also expressed willingness to support the initiative, highlighting gender on the website of her organization and exchanging information on the issue. Representative from Tajikistan M. Akhmedova stated that she would appeal to the direction to connect to the Internet, and make every effort to disseminate acquired knowledge at least within her organization.

Following active discussions, the participants arrived at a conclusion that a single way out is economic independence of women, which should be initiated “below” and supported “on top”. “Gender is not women’s problem, but problem of power and equity, “gender is not even a difference between men and women, but society development mechanism” - the participants noted.

In his concluding speech, Prof. V.A. Dukhovny expressed hope that the seminar would serve as necessary basis for Central Asian states in intensifying further activities for raising gender awareness for water specialists. Taking into account the contingent of the participants including both experts and representatives from governmental, scientific and non-governmental organizations, Prof. V.A.Dukhovny noted that ideas and knowledge acquired at this seminar may help develop specific measures directed to more active women involvement in the field in all CA states. Prof. V.A.Dukhovny called the participants to seek and support women leaders in water sector, support women farmers and disseminate the acquired knowledge in their countries.

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