Neil Palmer/IWMI.

Making it happen – ensuring better access to decision-making

Sunday, March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the past, present and future achievements of women. The 2015 theme, Make It Happen, encourages effective and collective action for advancing and recognizing women.

In order to ‘make it happen,’ women must to have the ability, access, and information to make the decisions that influence their lives and the productivity of their communities. The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) aims to conduct gender research in order to provide opportunities and space for women to become decision-makers, actors, and leaders. WLE tries to respond to the specific demands and needs of women and men in order to support vibrant communities and gender equity.

One important way we do this is through developing a gender responsive research strategy, where we ensure the that the work we do meets the demands and needs of women and men. To reach this end we need to engage in gender mainstreaming, a process through which we ensure gender is integrated into all aspects of our work. On this page, we highlight some WLE initiatives that work towards empowering women to make important decisions, thereby bringing about a more gender equitable world.

Gender Mainstreaming in Ethiopia

Check out a great example of gender mainstreaming in WLE’s work, carried out through by our partner, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas:

Interested in learning more? Read a story from WLE's Thrive blog.

Women Leaders in India

WLE has also supported the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to identify women leaders in farming communities in Madhya Pradesh, India. These women have each worked with ICRISAT and have taken steps to improve their decision making power, and by extension, their livelihoods and communities. Check out the videos:

Interested in learning more? See the ICRISAT media release and browse their photos.

Bearing the Brunt

WLE’s lead Center, the International Water Management Institute, is celebrating International Women’s Day with a new post, Women to bear the brunt of climate change; new IWMI report assesses the risks and opportunities in the Eastern Ganges Basin, and a supporting infographic.

More WLE Gender Research

3D mapping

Participatory 3D Maps are scaled maps created by communities to illustrate their perception of landscapes. Multiple groups within a community work to generate maps: for example, youth assemble the basemap, elders describe the initial legend and select colors and markers for items on the landscape, and finally others community members participate in updating the legend.

Participatory 3D mapping can also include a gendered approach, whereby men, women and children each produce separate landscape maps, reflecting differences in access to and use of resources. These differences are analyzed and can be used in a multitude of ways to better understand how a given group uses the landscape, as well as how they value different aspects of the landscape. [read more]

Experimental Games for Strengthening Collective Action

In India, a project implemented experimental games that simulate water use in real life. Men and women played separately, and the hypothesis was that women would choose more water conserving crops because women bear the greatest burden when falling water tables deplete domestic water supplies.

Surprisingly, women chose more water consumptive crops. In 2014, the project followed up with qualitative research to investigate why women did not play more water conservatively than men.  This revealed that there was a lack of understanding among many women about how choice of crop under irrigation affected domestic water supply. Having a better understanding could improve women’s abilities to make more informed and beneficial decisions. [read more]

Work in the WLE Regions

WLE is placing a great deal of emphasis on its new work within the regions, where there is great potential to influence and reduce gender-related constraints and to enhance the opportunities for women and men to be engaged in sustainable intensification. Three regional projects with strong gender components are summarized below.

Poverty squares and gender circles: unravelling agriculture gaps, challenges, and opportunities in the Eastern Gangetic Basin – Ganges Region

Changing agrarian dynamics result in changes in labor, tenure and resources within communities In the Eastern Gangetic Basin. These changes pose different risks, benefits and challenges to the various demographics represented in these communities.

This project aims to highlight critical success factors in mainstreaming gender in the region through: i) in-depth analyses of the barriers to achieving gender and generational equity; ii) analyses of existing programs to identify approaches that could be scaled up and out; iii) pilot proposals for new and innovative approaches and investable options to achieving gender and generational equity that are based on a clear understanding of the context. [read more]

Led by: Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR)

Harnessing floods to enhance livelihoods and ecosystem services – Nile Region

This project aims to improve investments in flood based farming to ensure an equitable distribution of costs and benefits. Hence, gender and equity are at the core of the project. The research activities explicitly recognize and analyze the differentiated needs, priorities and constraints of both women and men. The impacts of current and future investment plans in flood based farming on livelihoods will be analyzed separately for women and men.Research to identify constraints for women in business opportunities and livelihood options and ways to overcome these gender specific constraints will also be examined.

The project will also probe into the role that women play in traditional management and conflict resolution structures. It will analyze the position and bargaining power of women within the management of flood based farming systems and the representation of women in community organizations, such as water users’ associations. The project aims to understand if flood based systems in which women are relatively well represented perform better in terms of equitable access to resources and distribution of benefits. [read more]

Led by: Spate Irrigation Network Foundation Project

Managing the Bagré large water infrastructure for equity and ecosystems– Volta Region

Providing practical answers to a complex question such as how to manage large water infrastructure for social and environmental benefits is important in reversing inequitable trends. Bagré in the White Volta sub-Basin is a large multi-purpose dam and irrigation scheme in Burkina Faso. It provides multiple services (irrigation for food crops, hydropower and regulation of water flow) and multiple ecosystem services.

There is a need for enhanced interactions between stakeholders to ensure a peaceful, equitable and sustainable development of the area. This project will research options to tailor irrigation investments processes so that the positive impacts of large water infrastructure on equity and the environment are enhanced and their negative externalities limited. It seeks to address gender and equity issues by bringing the challenges related to women access to natural resources, in quantity and quality, to the fore. [read more]

Led by: CIRAD