RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


198 The Water-Gender-Violence Nexus in Disasters and Daily Lives
Affiliation Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Amiera Sawas (King's College London, UK)
Rebecca Farnum (King's College London, UK)
Chair(s) Amiera Sawas (King's College London, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Session abstract Awareness of the complexity of the links between water, gender, and violence is growing in research. Tragic cases in India of young women raped and murdered while searching for a spot to defecate drew the eyes of the world to the strong – and often horrific – ties between water for sanitation and hygiene and gender-based violence. Poor infrastructure creates opportunities for violence. Both temporary and permanent circumstances of limited resources and poor infrastructure can affect the way people interact with each other, both positively and negatively. The potential of water – in its abundance, scarcity, use, misuse, or related infrastructure – to be a driver of conflict and violence can only be understood via credible, extensive, and ground level research in a multiplicity of circumstances. In this session, cases from around the world will be used to question whether and how water is a gendered resource, how gendered dimensions plays out in water access and distribution, how discourses of water help shape gender-based violence, and how water might be leveraged as a tool against gender-based violence. Sponsored by King's Water at King's College London
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Improved sanitation for whom? Water, Sanitation and gendered violence in Guwahati and Kisumu
Sarah Jewitt (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Anjana Mahanta (Independent Researcher, India)
Harriet Ryley (Compassion, UK)
The disproportionate impacts of poor sanitation and MHM access on women and girls has been recognised in SDG goal 6's emphasis on paying 'special attention to the needs of women and girls'. At the same time, emphasis on sustainable management of water and sanitation for all has brought the introduction of an additional 'safely managed' rung at the top of the existing water and sanitation ladders. These issues are explored using two case studies. Drawing on research from Guwahati, India, we explore how water – in the form of frequent prolonged flooding - not only threatens the sustainability and excreta containment functions of sanitation systems but causes conflict over access to unflooded latrines. This has particularly significant implications for women and girls who have to either gain access to other households' latrines or practice open defecation: both of which create increased concerns about their safety. Using data from Kisumu Kenya, we explore how poor quality sanitation facilities and limited MHM access can combine to put girls at risk of sexual harassment and exploitation.
Structural Violence in Shaping Gendered Vulnerability and Climate-related Water Stresses in Peri-Urban Bangkok: A Case Study of Krachang Communities, Pathumthani Province, Thailand
Kanokphan Jongjarb (Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand)
Structural violence, often invisible, is complex and highly interdependent factors occurring at the socio-economic and political context of power relation that have kept women particularly vulnerable to violence. This article aims to illustrate social and structural violence in shaping gendered vulnerability to climate-related water stresses in peri-urban area, drawing from both the available literature on the subject and recent mixed-method research, using quantitative and qualitative approaches employing in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and a household survey. The new research was conducted with affected women and men in Krachang Communities (Pathumthani) who have had to deal with water stresses associated with the great flood of Thailand as well as periodic water variations that hinder canal water flow, causing low water quality induced by climate variations. The study articulates three major elements that determined water stresses in unplanned urbanization of Bangkok Metropolis Region (BMR) as a geographical factor attributing to the peri-urban characteristics including rapidly increasing population without adequacy of infrastructure, land use change and urban bias policy. This research finding reveals that the gendered drivers, the intersection of gender role which constrained education levels, types of occupations and income generation, registered house status resulted from patrilocality, and lack of gender sensitivity in local authority create gendered vulnerability to water stresses. The poor men and women, non- local housewife and local housewife, and female head of household and male of heads of household are affected in the different level of exposure in a gender-specific way. Additionally, to cope with those changes, women and men have employed differently approaches, with men using more formal means while women, who are usually affected most in this context (for reasons to be discussed), have used more informal channels to respond to these severe stresses.
Gender, water and climate stress: Lessons from the Eastern Gangetic Plains
Fraser Sugden (International Water Management Institute, Nepal)
The Eastern Gangetic Plains, a largely rural region which includes India's Bihar state and the southern lowlands of Nepal, has long been characterised by deeply inequitable social structure with gender inequalities intricately connected to caste and class divisions. An agrarian crisis has unravelled in the region over recent years due to climate stress and a terms of trade increasingly stacked against agriculture. With male out-migration increasingly essential to support fragile livelihoods amongst the marginal and tenant farmer majority, the region has seen the unprecedented feminisation of production. While increased women's engagement in farm management has offered some opportunities for women's empowerment, it also has also increased the vulnerability of women from land poor and tenant households. This can include insecurity and risk of harassment, a hugely increased work burden, and a greater vulnerability to climate shocks such as droughts – particularly when remittances are sporadic. In this context groundwater irrigation is critical for women led households to maintain food security. However, with irrigation being a task long the domain of men, women face considerable challenges in accessing water – particularly for marginal farmers without their own irrigation equipment. Constraints include a more limited bargaining power in hierarchical water markets, lack of financial resources to cover pumping costs, and lack of documentation or networks which can be used to avail government irrigation subsidies. This paper proposes new ways to engage with women in the water sector. This includes moving beyond just improving water access in the 'traditional' female domains of kitchen gardens and the household economy, and improving women's access to water for core staple crop production. It also proposes new models for mobilising women collectively for irrigated agriculture in an era of unprecedented demographic change.
Feminizing Fog Water: A Drop of Change in Rural Areas
Souad Kadi (Dar Si Hmad, Morocco)
Jade Lansing (Dar Si Hmad, Morocco)
Rural Southwest Morocco is an area marked by limited economic opportunities, rural migration, and severe vulnerability to climate challenge. Gender, water and violence shape people's lives in this region. This paper investigates the gendered impacts of environmental development initiatives on community water practices in the region, focusing a critical lens on unintended redistributions of social capital between the sexes resulting from efforts to increase access to critical natural resources. Reflecting on the case of a fog-harvesting project run by local NGO Dar Si Hmad (DSH) in Ait Baamrane, Morocco, I will argue that seemingly innocuous solutions to sustainable resource management have substantial consequences for gendered social relations and how power is enacted within a community. Based on qualitative interviews with female community members, this paper will shed light on how gender relations have shifted with a new water source. Before the inauguration of DSH's fog-harvesting project, which delivers potable water directly to village homes, women and girls walked more than 2 hours everyday to fetch water from distant wells. Though violence against women is not prevalent in the region, symbolic violence occurs when girls' education and economic participation are limited by male elders and daily tasks like water retrieval. The introduction of fog water saved female beneficiaries from lengthy trips to the well, opening the possibility for girls to continue education and women to participate in the economy. On the other hand, this intervention drastically curtailed women's control over water, as male beneficiaries staked out the most prominent roles in the project. To address this problem, DSH taught women to report problems with the fog-water piping and delivery using a mobile phone system accessible to illiterate users. This paper will reflect on gendered water practices, symbolic violence, and best practices for empowering women through sustainable natural resource management.