Gendered Livelihoods and Multiple Water Use in North Gujarat

Agriculture and Human Values 22 (4):411-420 (2005)

A variety of water-based livelihood activities undertaken by women and men in the villages of North Gujarat are under threat due to the unavailability of adequate water. Excessive groundwater withdrawal and limited recharge have led to shrinking water tables. With shrinking supply and growing sectoral demand, the competition for access to water is growing and women, who command less political and social power in the patriarchal communities of South Asia, often find themselves marginalized. Women are basically considered domestic water users while men are seen as productive water users, despite the fact that women make significant use of water for productive purposes as well. This paper, drawing mainly on fieldwork undertaken in six villages of North Gujarat, India, tries to show how women use water for multiple purposes and help sustain the household economy. The paper argues that recognizing women’s roles as multiple water users will help promote the productive use of water in enhancing rural livelihood and sustaining the household economy. With special reference to women respondents, the paper examines gender roles of both domestic and productive water users and explores how these roles help women to improve their socio-economic status. The paper also analyzes operational income and expenditures associated with water-based home enterprise. Individual interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, daily routine diagrams, and key informant surveys were administered to collect primary data. Key findings show that access of women to water for productive use not only increases their income earning potential, but also helps strengthen their bargaining positions
Keywords Domestic use  Gender  India  Irrigation  Livestock  Productive use  Water use
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DOI 10.1007/s10460-005-3396-6
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