Gender inequality in urban water governance: Continuity and change in two towns of Nepal

Basundhara Bhattarai, Rachana Upadhyaya, Kaustuv Raj Neupane, Kamal Devkota, Gyanu Maskey, Suchita Shrestha, Bandita Mainali, Hemant Ojha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gender-based inequality has long been recognized as a challenge in water governance and urban development. Women do most of the water collection-related tasks in the majority of low-income country's urban areas, as they do in rural areas for drinking, household consumption, kitchen gardening, and farming. However, their voice is rarely heard in water governance. When climate change exacerbates water scarcity, it becomes harder for people to secure water with more pronounced effects on women. Drawing on the narratives of men and women involved in water management practices and also the views of the stakeholders who are part of water resource management in two towns in Nepal, this paper demonstrates emerging forms of gender inequality concerning access to and control over water resources, as well as associated services such as sanitation. We found that women's voice in water governance is systematically excluded, and such gender-based disadvantage intersects with economic disadvantage as women in low-income poor urban settlements are experiencing additional difficulty in accessing water and sanitation services. Gender inequity persists in the urban water sector, and of course the wider social structures, despite some progressive policy changes in recent years, such as the 30% quota reserved for women in local-level water management bodies in Nepal. The paper concludes that tackling gender inequity in water management requires a transformative approach that seriously takes into account women's voice, critical awareness, and open deliberation over the causes and consequences of the current approaches and practices. Moreover, gender-inclusive outcomes on water management are linked to changes in areas outside of the water sector, such as property ownership structures that constrain or enable women's access to water and related services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-51
Number of pages22
JournalWorld Water Policy
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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