“Just Women” Is Not Enough: Towards a Gender-Relational Approach to Water and Peacebuilding

  • Janpeter SchillingEmail author
  • Rebecca Froese
  • Jana Naujoks
Part of the Water Security in a New World book series (WSEC)


Gender is a topic that every large development and peacebuilding organisation mainstreams in its programming. However, often “gender” implies a focus on women. We argue that this is not enough to utilise the full potential of a meaningful and effective integration of gender in specific projects, particularly in the peacebuilding and the water sector. The aim of this chapter is therefore to develop a first gender-relational approach to water and peacebuilding that will help researchers, practitioners and policy makers to better understand and integrate the multiple dimensions of gender. To achieve this aim, we first explore the main trends in and connections between gender on the one side and peacebuilding and the water sector on the other side, before we identify key gaps and crosscutting themes. Against this background, we develop a gender-relational approach based on questions to guide the integration of gender into water and peacebuilding. Our main method is a comprehensive review of the relevant academic literature and reports by key donors, and international development and peacebuilding organisations. Further, we draw on examples from Kenya and Nepal to conclude that a gender-relational approach to water and peacebuilding needs to go beyond a focus on “just women”. There is a need to incorporate heterosexual women and men, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI), explore the relations within and between these groups and include other identity markers in the analysis in order to generate a nuanced understanding of complex situations, and to develop effective programming in peacebuilding and the water sector.


Gender Water Peacebuilding Approach Kenya Nepal 



The authors appreciate the helpful comments of the reviewers. The field research was made possible by International Alert, Universität Hamburg and the National Geographic Society. The overall work is supported by the University of Koblenz-Landau and through the Cluster of Excellence ‘Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction – CliSAP’, Universität Hamburg, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG).


  1. Ahlers R, Zwarteveen M (2009) The water question in feminism: water control and gender inequities in a neo-liberal era. Gender Place Culture 16(4):409–426. doi: 10.1080/09663690903003926 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bastick M, Valasek K (2008) Gender and security sector reform toolkit. DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN-INSTRAW, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  3. Coles A, Wallace T (2005) Gender, water and development. Bloomsbury Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Connell RW (2006) Understanding men: gender sociology and the new international research on masculinities. In: Skelton C, Francis B, Smulyan L (eds) The sage handbook of gender and education. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Cornwall A (2003) Whose voices? Whose choices? Reflections on gender and participatory development. World Development 31(8):1325–1342. doi: Scholar
  6. Davies SE, Nackers K, Teitt S (2014) Women, peace and security as an Asean priority. Aust J Int Aff 68(3):333–355. doi: 10.1080/10357718.2014.902030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. de Vries D, Leslie P, McCabe J (2006) Livestock acquisitions dynamics in nomadic pastoralist herd demography: a case study among Ngisonyoka herders of South Turkana, Kenya. Hum Ecol 34(1):1–25. doi: 10.1007/s10745-005-9000-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DFID, UK Department for International Development (2006) Evaluation of Dfid’s policy and practice in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. DFID, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. DFID, UK Department for International Development (2015) Statistics on international development. DFID, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Dolan C (2002) Collapsing masculinities and weak states – A case study of Northern Uganda. In: Cleaver F (ed) Masculinities matter! Men, gender and development. Zed Books, London, pp 57–84Google Scholar
  11. Dolan C (2009) Social torture: the case of northern Uganda 1986–2006. Berghahn Books, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Dolgopol U (2006) Women and peace building. Aust Fem Stud 21(50):257–273. doi: 10.1080/08164640600731804 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. El-Bushra J, Myrttinen H, Naujoks J (2013) Renegotiating the ‘ideal’ society – gender relations in the wake of conflict and displacement in Uganda. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Ellerby K (2013) (En)gendered security? The complexities of women’s inclusion in peace processes. International Interactions 39(4):435–460. doi: 10.1080/03050629.2013.805130 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. EPLO, European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (2013) UNSCR 1325 in Europe – 20 Case Studies of Implementation Accessed 10 May 2016
  16. Fawole OI (2008) Economic violence to women and girls – is it receiving the necessary attention? Trauma Violence Abuse 9(3):167–177. doi: 10.1177/1524838008319255 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferguson L (2010) Interrogating ‘gender’ in development policy and practice. Int Fem J Polit 12(1):3–24. doi: 10.1080/14616740903429080 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fröhlich C, Gioli G (2015) Gender, conflict, and global environmental change. Peace Rev 27(2):137–146. doi: 10.1080/10402659.2015.1037609 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. GAPS UK, Gender Action for Peace and Security (2015) Assessing UK government action on women, peace and security in 2015. vol. 12 January 2016. GAPS UK, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Gioli G, Khan T, Bisht S, Scheffran J (2014a) Migration as an adaptation strategy and its gendered implications: a case study from the upper Indus Basin. Mt Res Dev 34(2):255–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gioli G, Khan T, Bisht S, Scheffran J (2014b) Gender and environmentally-induced migration in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. In: Aneel S, Haroon UT, Niazi I (eds) Sustainable development in South Asia: shaping the future. Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad and Sang-e-Meel Publishers, Islamabad, pp 355–378Google Scholar
  22. Gioli G, Hugo G, Máñez Costa M, Scheffran J (2016) Human mobility, climate adaptation, and development. Migr Dev 5(2):165–170. doi: 10.1080/21632324.2015.1096590 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gizelis T-I (2011) A country of their own: women and peacebuilding. Conflict Manag Peace Sci 28(5):522–542. doi: 10.1177/0738894211418412 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gupta A (1998) Postcolonial developments: agriculture in the making of modern India. Duke University Press, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  25. Hawkins R, Seager J (2010) Gender and water in Mongolia. Prof Geogr 62(1):16–31. doi: 10.1080/00330120903375852 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hudson H (2009) Peacebuilding through a gender lens and the challenges of implementation in Rwanda and Côte D’ivoire. Secur Stud 18(2):287–318. doi: 10.1080/09636410902899982 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hussain I (2007) Understanding gender and diversity dimensions of irrigation management for pro-poor interventions. Irrig Drain 56(2–3):299–305. doi: 10.1002/ird.295 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. International Alert (2010) Programming framework for International Alert. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. International Alert (2014) What’s in it for us? Gender issues in Uganda’s oil and gas sector. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. International Alert (2016) What we work on. Accessed 1 July 2016
  31. Jennings KM (2014) Service, sex and security: gendered peacekeeping economies in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Secur Dialogue. doi: 10.1177/0967010614537330
  32. Joshi D (2014) Feminist solidarity? Women’s engagement in politics and the implications for water management in the Darjeeling Himalaya. Mt Res Dev 34(3):243–254. doi: 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-13-00097.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Joshi D, Fawcett B (2001) Water projects and women’s empowerment. Accessed 31 Oct 2016
  34. Kirby P (2015) Ending sexual violence in conflict: the preventing sexual violence initiative and its critics. Int Aff 91(3):457–472. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12283 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Knight K, Sollom R (2012) Making disaster risk reduction and relief programmes LGBTI inclusive: examples from Nepal. Humanit Exch Mag 55:36–39Google Scholar
  36. Kunz R (2011) The political economy of global remittances – gender, governmentality and neoliberalism. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. López Castañeda D, Myrttinen H (2014) Re-examining identities and power – gender in peacebuilding in Colombia. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Mascarenhas M (2012) Redefining water security through social reproduction: lessons learned from Rajasthan’s ‘Ocean of Sand’. IDS Bull 43(2):51–58. doi: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2012.00307.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McCabe JT (2004) Cattle bring us to our enemies: Turkana ecology, politics, and raiding in a disequilibrium system. University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McIlvenny P (2002) Talking gender and sexuality. John Benjamins, AalborgCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meier P, Bond D, Bond J (2007) Environmental influences on pastoral conflict in the horn of Africa. Polit Geogr 26(6):716–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mustafa D, Gioli G, Qazi S, Waraich R, Rehman A, Zahoor R (2015) Gendering flood early warning systems: the case of Pakistan. Environ Hazards:1–17. doi: 10.1080/17477891.2015.1075859
  43. Myrttinen H, Swaine A (2015) Monster myths, selfies and grand declarations. Int Fem J Polit 17(3):496–502. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2015.1055921 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Myrttinen H, Naujoks J, El-Bushra J (2014) Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Myrttinen H, Naujoks J, Schilling J (2015) Gender, natural resources, and peacebuilding in Kenya and Nepal. Peace Rev 27(2):181–187. doi: 10.1080/10402659.2015.1037623 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Myrttinen H, Khattab L, Naujoks J (2016a) Re-thinking hegemonic masculinities in conflict-affected contexts. Critical military studies online first, 1–17. doi: 10.1080/23337486.2016.1262658
  47. Myrttinen H, Popovic N, Khattab L (2016b) “Measuring gender” in peacebuilding. International Alert, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Naujoks J, Hartlief I (2015) Reality check – the gender dimensions of the impact of multinational companies’ operations in Fragile and conflict-affected areas – guidance for research. Accessed 10 May 2016
  49. O’Reilly K (2006) “Traditional” women, “Modern” water: linking gender and commodification in Rajasthan, India. Geoforum 37(6):958–972. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Perrons D (2005) Gender mainstreaming and gender equality in the new (market) economy: an analysis of contradictions. Soc Polit Int Stud Gend State Soc 12(3):389–411. doi: 10.1093/sp/jxi021 Google Scholar
  51. Pike IL, Wllliams SR (2006) Incorporating psychosocial health into biocultural models: preliminary findings from Turkana women of Kenya. Am J Hum Biol 18(6):729–740. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20548 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pike IL, Straight B, Oesterle M, Hilton C, Lanyasunya A (2010) Documenting the health consequences of endemic warfare in three pastoralist communities of northern Kenya: a conceptual framework. Soc Sci Med 70(1):45–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Porter F, Sweetman C (2005) Editorial. Gend Dev 13(2):2–10. doi: 10.1080/13552070512331332282 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ray I (2007) Women, water, and development. Annu Rev Environ Resour 32(1):421–449. doi: 10.1146/ CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Samman E, Presler-Marshall E, Jones N (2016) Women’s work – mothers, children and the global childcare crisis. Overseas Development Institute, LondonGoogle Scholar
  56. Schilling J, Opiyo F, Scheffran J (2012) Raiding pastoral livelihoods: motives and effects of violent conflict in North-Western Kenya. Pastoralism 2(25):1–16Google Scholar
  57. Schilling J, Vivekananda J, Nisha P, Khan AK (2013) Vulnerability to environmental risks and effects on community resilience in mid-West Nepal and south-East Pakistan. Environ Nat Resour Res 3(4):1–19Google Scholar
  58. Schilling J, Locham R, Weinzierl T, Vivekananda J, Scheffran J (2015) The nexus of oil, conflict, and climate change vulnerability of pastoral communities in Northwest Kenya. Earth Syst Dynam 6(2):703–717. doi: 10.5194/esd-6-703-2015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schilling J, Weinzierl T, Lokwang AE, Opiyo F (2016) For better or worse: major developments affecting resource and conflict dynamics in Northwest Kenya. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie/Ger J Econ Geogr 60(1–2):57–71Google Scholar
  60. Shepherd LJ, True J (2014) The women, peace and security agenda and Australian leadership in the world: from rhetoric to commitment? Aust J Int Aff 68(3):257–284. doi: 10.1080/10357718.2014.903895 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. SMUG, Sexual Minorities Uganda (2016) And that is how i survived being killed. Accessed 31 Oct 2016
  62. Social Development Direct (2015) Evaluation of the National Action Plan on women, peace and security – baseline study. Social Development Direct, LondonGoogle Scholar
  63. Tiessen R (2015) Gender essentialism in Canadian foreign aid commitments to women, peace, and security. Int J 70(1):84–100. doi: 10.1177/0020702014564799 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2014a) UK National Action Plan on women, peace and security 2014–2017: country-level implementation plan. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  65. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2014b) United Kingdom National Action Plan on women, peace and security. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  66. UK Parliament (2014) International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014. Accessed 13 Jan 2016
  67. UN CESCR, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2003) General Comment No. 15 – the Right to Water. Accessed 4 Jan 2016
  68. UN General Assembly (2010) Resolution 64/292 – the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Accessed 3 Jan 2015
  69. UN General Assembly (2013) Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. Accessed 18 Dec 2016
  70. UN, United Nations (2015a) Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Accessed 4 Jan 2016
  71. UN, United Nations (2015b) Goal 6: Ensure Access to Water and Sanitation for All. Accessed 4 January 2016
  72. UN, United Nations (2015c) The millennium development goals report 2015. United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  73. UN Water, United Nations Inter-agency Coordination Mechanism for all Freshwater Related Issues, Including Sanitation (2009) Monitoring progress in the water sector: a selected set of indicators. Accessed 31 Oct 2016
  74. UN Women (2012) Handbook for national action plans on violence against women. UN Women, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  75. UN Women, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (2016) Gender equality glossary. Accessed 31 Oct 2016
  76. United Nations Security Council (2000). Resolution 1325 (2000). Accessed 2 Jan 2016
  77. United Nations Security Council (2013) Resolution 2106 (2013) Accessed 2 Jan 2016
  78. US Department of State (2016) Congressional budget justification. US Department of State, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  79. USAID, United States Agency for International Development (2010) Guide to gender integration and analysis. Washington, DC, USAIDGoogle Scholar
  80. Van Houweling E (2016) “A good wife brings her husband bath water”: gender roles and water practices in Nampula, Mozambique. Soc Nat Resour 29(9):1065–1078. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1095377 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Vivekananda J, Schilling J, Mitra S, Pandey N (2014) On shrimp, salt and security: livelihood risks and responses in South Bangladesh and East India. Environ Dev Sustain 16(6):1141–1161. doi: 10.1007/s10668-014-9517-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Warren H (2007) Using gender-analysis frameworks: theoretical and practical reflections. Gend Dev 15(2):187–198. doi: 10.1080/13552070701391847 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wendoh S, Wallace T (2005) Re-thinking gender mainstreaming in African NGOs and communities. Gend Dev 13(2):70–79. doi: 10.1080/13552070512331332288 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. WHO, World Health Organization (1981) International drinking water supply and sanitation decade. Accessed 4 Jan 2016Google Scholar
  85. WMO, World Meteorological Organization (1992) The Dublin statement on water and sustainable development. Accessed 30 Dec 2015
  86. World Bank (2011) World development report 2012 – gender equality and development. World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Worthington EB (1977) United Nations water conference, held at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 14–25 March 1977. Environ Conserv 4(2):153–154. doi: 10.1017/S0376892900025522
  88. Wright H (2014) Masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding. Saferworld, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janpeter Schilling
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Rebecca Froese
    • 2
  • Jana Naujoks
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Sciences, Group Landuse ConflictsUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Geography, Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC)University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.International AlertLondonUK

Personalised recommendations