October 23, 2012

2012: Highlight # 18

Provision of irrigation often brings economic prosperity but how does it influence the social interactions in groups? Shah and Kulkarni explore these complex dynamics...

Irrigation, Economic Benefits and Women

Evidence from two case studies in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh

Amita Shah and Seema Kulkarni

A complex interplay of factors constrains women’s participation in water sector planning and limits the accrual of benefits to them. Policy prescriptions in the water sector, howsoever well intentioned, may not benefit women if they are simply mapped on to the existing unequal social context. It is thus clear that for women from diverse social groups to effectively participate in governance and stake their claims on resource rights and its use, policies need to be better informed about the dynamics of gender relations located in the context of caste, class and patriarchy. Analyses in the past have focused mainly on time saved and increased income opportunities, thus overlooking the issue of whether and how the dynamics of the collective changes wherein improved economic status may lead to de-collectivisation of women as women or as caste or class groups for that matter. This takes us to the less explored areas to probe into question of how increased access to water through its poverty reducing impact shapes the trajectory towards gender empowerment. It is important to note here that though gender and poverty are inter-related they are not the same and should be recognized as different social processes.

This Highlight explores the relationship between women and water and poverty with the help of an empirical investigation in micro settings of two states viz. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

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