Mainstreaming and Modelling: How gender analysis can be applied to a water management modelling framework

Joyce Wu, Nicky Grigg, Evangeline Packett

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    During the last few years the water sector has made considerable efforts to move towards a system of integrated water management that acknowledges the importance of ecosystems, policy, participation and gender. While significant progress has been made in these areas, one under-explored question is whether gender mainstreaming can be built into the hydrological modelling processes themselves. The aim of including gender analysis is to reduce the risk of decision making models entrenching social disadvantage or undermining efficiency. Given the strong links between gender and water, there is an opportunity to mobilise feminist literature and research methods for integration into modelling processes. This potential integration is exciting for future policy and research but will not come without challenges. Gender relationships are cross-cutting, complex and heterogeneous; and human behaviour can be unpredictable. Scrupulous consideration of gender relationships requires exploring intersecting identities such as race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, gender expression and caste. There is a wealth of feminist literature exploring how localised gender norms and relations affect how both genders use, access and control water. This literature has the potential to give biophysical information context and make it more useful. Investigating how gender studies, hydrology and modelling disciplines relate can reveal how this knowledge can be synthesised to better inform decision making. The Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) is well positioned to conduct such an investigation. SDIP is a coalition of partners funded by the Australian government to explore water, food and energy security in South Asia . One of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) roles is to develop water management models to provide rigorous scientific evidence for water resource planning in the Indus and Koshi basins and northwest Bangladesh1. SDIP explicitly targets gender inequities and the programme has produced strong work addressing gender relations and water. The application of an integrated approach to gender and water by SDIP would meet the growing demand of the development sector to target gender inequity. However, it has not been immediately clear to what extent modifications to the hydrological models might be necessary. Gender mainstreaming is when gender analysis is conducted throughout all stages of a project. Our partner, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) says ‘a programming process is gender sensitive when the gender dimension is systematically integrated into every step of the process’. There is often a disconnect between technical modelling work and the social science theories of gender. This research aims to tackle this disciplinary divide directly in order to help SDIP move towards gender mainstreaming with clear and precise impact. To achieve this, we have used the Guidelines for Water Management Modelling by Black et al (2011) to explore if and how each step of the modelling process could consider gender dynamics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyCSIRO
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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