International practices show that the essential factor of democratic civil society is the protection of human rights at all levels and, particularly, of women’s rights. In 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are comprised of eight targets, one of which is to “promote gender equality and empower women”. To a larger degree, this implies protecting the interests of both men and women; first, focus is placed on gradual gender mainstreaming as a multi-scale problem; and, second, on guarantee of open approach to gender issues as an integral element in achieving all MDGs. From the point of gender balance, it is necessary to consider gender as a multidisciplinary problem. Ignoring gender as the multidisciplinary problem will lead to unequal social development.

The hierarchy, where men take dominating position, while women are in subordinate position underlies gender differences. As a result, both women and men become the ‘victims’ of the conventional system of norms and stereotypes.

In 1992, the modern concept of integrated water resources management was proposed at a well-known conference in Dublin in the form of four principles, one of which is that: “Women play a central part in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water.”

The role of women, as major providers and users of water in households, as well as defenders of the environment, is widely promoted in mass media for demonstrating those hardships and concerns, which they are bearing under low incomes. However, their role is seldom reflected in institutional measures aimed at water resources development and management. It is widely acknowledged that women play a key role in collection and safeguarding water for domestic purposes, and in many cases they, carry out hard manual labour in agricultural activity, and suffer, more from receiving less output due to irregularities in irrigation and drainage services. At the same time, they have a much less influential role than men in management and problem analyses and in the decision-making process related to water resources. IWRM requires gender awareness.

Author: Mirzaev N.N., SIC ICWC