What progress is being made in integrating a gender perspective into water policy? Gender advocates have argued that a) involving both men and women in roles of influence at all levels can support sustainability and b) conversely, sustainability in water management can contribute to gender equity through meeting the essential needs of both women and men. This report from the Gender and Water Alliance looks at four sectors: Water for Nature; Sanitation for People; Water for People and Water for Food. It evaluates progress made by governments and external support agencies in policy, legislation and institutional change. A section on case studies demonstrates best practice and proposes areas for further work. In South Africa there have been significant improvements in free basic sanitation and water services for the very poor, equal opportunities for men and women in employment in the water sector and the establishment of goals based on a designated quantity of water as a human need. Recommendations include the compiling of reliable statistics and gender disaggregated data; improved awareness-raising and the development of new tools; encouraging better learning from best practice and pooling expertise; and improving policy dialogue and the development of model legislation.Water for Nature - The report identifies a lack of attention given to this area. From a gender perspective it is critical since poor women use more ?common property? resources. In addition, projects such as dams, drought mitigation, desertification, fisheries etc are not including the input of women. An emphasis on water as a right does not always take gender considerations into account, particularly when this engages with land rights and representation on local and regional management committees.Sanitation for People - Sanitation is often the entry point for gender mainstreaming into the water sector since sanitation professionals can be most likely to have the tools to integrate a gender perspective. However, there is the need for commitment by local agencies and a greater emphasis on participatory approaches. International targets, national frameworks and capacity development within the water sector must also be strengthened. In some areas such as waste management in urban areas, the principles have been established but have not been translated into concrete strategies.Water for People - Although gender perspectives have been widely applied to community and domestic water supply, larger water supply schemes with less community participation are still favoured which may not actually supply water to low-income communities. Appropriate systems for different communities in participatory planning processes, water pricing systems and local credit arrangements need to include a gender perspective. Gender aware community and domestic water management now also needs to fit into Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).Water for Food - This section looks at the gender dimensions of: land tenure and communal property; access to water; participatory planning; control over resources; capacity and skills development; markets and commerce. Although Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) has given responsibility for local water management to farmers and rural communities in many areas, centralised distribution management and inadequate budgets continue to inhibit participation. Affirmative action is needed including budgets for gender mainstreaming, agricultural extension training on gender, gender monitoring and involvement of institutions outside the water sector such as education and community development.
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