(In)visible women: Representation and Conceptualization of Gender in Water Governance and Management

Authors: Jaclyn Best*, Oregon State University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Gender, Women
Keywords: water governance, water management, women, gender, gender representation, river basin organizations
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although there is a substantial body of work on the inclusion of women in traditionally male-dominated processes of water management and water governance (Earle & Bazilli, 2013), these efforts have mostly been concentrated in the Global South and women are still lacking in positions with decision-making power, making water governance still gender disparate from the top-down (de Silva, Veilleux, & Neal, 2018). In this work, I examine the representation of women and conceptualization of gender in water governance organizations. Part one compiles gender-disaggregated data of employees involved in water governance and management of the Deschutes River Basin (DRB) in central Oregon, USA. Findings show that women are underrepresented throughout the DRB, increasingly so in decision-making roles and in traditionally male-dominated sectors. I conclude by offering recommendations based on gender mainstreaming principles to increase gender representation throughout the basin. In part two, I gather gender-disaggregated data from employees of 45 international River Basin Organizations (RBOs) and determine if and to what extent they conceptualize women and gender. Results indicate that women are underrepresented in all RBOs studied and increasingly in positions of decision-making power. Of the RBOs that do conceptualize gender and/or women, few have incorporated them into explicit policies, and the majority are donor funded and concentrated in the Global South. Results of this research highlight the need for more gender-disaggregated research and gender mainstreaming in all levels of water governance and management in both developing and developed country contexts, which could in turn increase the effectiveness of such processes.

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