Земельные и водные ресурсы

Water and gender

Closing the gender gap in access to productive agricultural resources is crucial for achieving FAO’s goal of a world free from hunger. It is estimated that women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labour force globally and half or more of the agricultural labour force in many African and Asian countries. The labour burden of rural women exceeds that of men and includes a higher proportion of unpaid household responsibilities, such as food preparation and the collection of fuel and water. 

Although the contributions of women to agriculture and food production are significant, women often lack formal rights to the land they farm and the water resources they need to irrigate their fields. In many regions, women suffer discrimination in land rights, including with respect to communal lands, which are controlled largely by men. Women also lack status in their communities to influence natural resource governance decisions and practices. 

Agricultural water management has been effective in increasing yields and food production worldwide. Water professionals have developed and promoted agricultural water management techniques such as rainwater harvesting and flood control. In many places, however, planners, engineers, extension staff and decision-makers still fail to perceive women as farmers. Consequently, policies, programmes and projects frequently overlook the knowledge, tasks, needs and requirements of women and other vulnerable groups (e.g. ethnic groups) in agricultural water management. 

Various UN bodies have recognized the importance of ensuring gender quality in access to, and the management of, water resources. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, for example, in its General Recommendation No. 34 on the Rights of Rural Women, considers rural women’s rights to land and water resources to be fundamental human rights. The Committee has urged the international community, including governments, to take all measures necessary to achieve the substantive equality of rural women in relation to land and natural resources, and to design and implement comprehensive strategies to address discriminatory stereotypes, attitudes and practices that impede their rights to land and natural resources. Many of the Sustainable Development Goals also address the situation of rural women, thereby providing an important opportunity to ensure gender equality in the context of food security and water management.

FAO’s Policy on Gender Equality provides a framework for guiding efforts to achieve equality between women and men in sustainable agricultural production and rural development for the elimination of hunger and poverty. 

FAO is supporting member countries to ensure gender equality in the access and management of water resources in a number of specific areas, as described below. 

Gender-disaggregated data

Gender-disaggregated data are needed to better understand gender roles in agriculture and water management and how these change over time and in 

response to new opportunities. Women’s roles are diverse, and they vary across regions and countries. These roles cannot be understood properly, and interventions cannot be designed effectively, without understanding the differential access of women to productive resources such as land and water. Gender-sensitiveindicators related to water management are needed for the thorough planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of coherent, effective and sustainable policies, programmes and projects. 

Since 2015, FAO's global water information system AQUASTAT has been adding sections on "women and irrigation" when updating country profiles. Sex-disaggregated data on agricultural water management is generally unavailable at the national level, and AQUASTAT aims to build on existing information to further develop key gender-related variables for inclusion in the database.

Gender in agricultural water management field projects

FAO promotes gender quality in all its field projects and programmes. Gender analysis – that is, the implications of projects, programmes and policies for women, men, boys and girls – is incorporated in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of field programmes and projects. In planning and executing projects and programmes it is important to assess who will benefit and who will lose from an intervention, taking into account the varying knowledge, needs and requirements of men, women and children according to age, social class and socio-economic status, so that each group benefits equally from the intervention and to ensure that existing inequalities are not reinforced. 

The FAO passport to mainstreaming gender in water programmes is a rapid appraisal tool for identifying the main gender-related problems and gaps that require attention in the design, implementation and monitoring of projects and programmes.

The FAO Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) irrigation sector guide supports the participatory planning of irrigation schemes and the integration of socio-economic and gender issues in the planning process.

Gender and water governance

The specific needs and perspectives of women as farmers and water users are not well reflected in water governance, and women remain underrepresented and disadvantaged in decision-making on the use, allocation and governance of water. As a result, agricultural water legislation, policies and institutions are mostly not gender-responsive. In many instances, women’s multiple uses of water (e.g. for irrigation, livestock, and personal and domestic use) are not considered. For women to have equal access to and control over water resources for achieving food security and maintaining livelihoods, they must be involved in decision-making and priority-setting on the basis of equality with men. 

In the framework of the NENA Water Scarcity Initiative, FAO is supporting the governments of Morocco and Jordan to explore possible governance mechanisms for sustainable and inclusive groundwater use and management. Diagnostic assessments have been carried out in consultation with local and national stakeholders, looking at the key hydrogeological and governance challenges associated with the Berrechid aquifer and Azraq basin, respectively. An in-depth gender analysis helped identify the specific contributions and participation of women and men and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for more equitable, inclusive and participatory groundwater governance.