International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

4.8 - Gender Mainstreaming

GEF IW project experiences of gender mainstreaming can be found here.

'Gender mainstreaming' was defined by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1997 as 'a strategy for making women's as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of...the policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.'

The relative status of men and women - the interaction between gender and race, class and ethnicity and questions of rights, control, ownership, power and voice - all have a critical impact on the success and sustainability of every development intervention.

In practice, gender mainstreaming means identifying gaps in gender equality. The problem areas include the development of accountability mechanisms; allocation of sufficient resources; attention to gender equality; targeting not just 'soft' areas for gender mainstreaming (such as health and education), but also supposedly 'gender-neutral' areas, such as infrastructure development and economic policies; and strong political commitment and will.

All project should be sure to have awareness of gender issues in water management. Gender issues are not just women’s issues, but how different gender roles influence different approached to uses and management of water resources. Failure to consider this can mean missing significant parts of the improved management puzzle, and not addressing important issues which impact one group of society more than others. Additionally inclusion of both male and female gender roles in your project can enhance the success of your project activities.

Gender mainstreaming must include gender as a variable within the stakeholder analysis, within stakeholder advisory groups, and being sure that both genders are aware of the contribution both make to water management. In cases of traditional cultures in which men and women’s roles vary significantly, respect for those differences is important. There are often advantages to having a gender expert involved in your project to help navigate the sensitivities and to build a stronger project that is inclusive of all stakeholder groups.

Further information can be found at: