Water Resources Management

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 925–942 | Cite as

Equitable Gender Participation in Local Water Governance: An Insight into Institutional Paradoxes

  • Nandita Singh


The participation of local stakeholders in governance of water resources is regarded as inalienable for ensuring efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. To enhance gender balance in the water governance process, institutions are being designed and executed globally to elicit enhanced participation of women. This paper contends that in the context of local communities, the new institutional framework is divorced from the traditional social institutions that in turn operationalize their resource management systems. Based upon empirical evidence from rural Indian setting, the paper deciphers the paradoxes between the two sets of institutional paradigms and illustrates how these paradoxes at the ‘interface’ between the local community context and the development strategy lead to problems with effective women’s participation. On the basis of the findings, it argues that the institutional paradigm for achieving equitable gender participation in local water governance does not represent a truly ‘bottom-up’ approach. It further raises the concern that if the institutional paradigm for participation is contradictory to local institutions, then how can the objectives of participation founded thereupon be seen as achievable? The paper proposes the need to design participatory paradigms that are more realistically rooted in community-based institutional frameworks so as to enhance effectiveness of the endeavors.


Gender Participation Water governance Gender equity Decentralization India Traditional resource management system Women 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Land and Water Resources EngineeringRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden

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