The Weight of Water: Female Empowerment Through Gender Mainstreaming and Integrated Water Resource Management
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Of the crises facing humanity in the 21st century, water scarcity and the status of women are of great importance. Due to increasingly polluted and depleted freshwater resources on our planet, management practices for the 21st century are in dire need of restructuring. Additionally, the rights of women, especially in the developing world, are not being actualized. Because it is generally the female's role to collect water for domestic purposes on a global scale, (and because it takes up much of her and her children's time), it is of significant importance to redesign a water management system that empowers women. The current approach of privatization will be analyzed and two case studies presented. examinations of female-specific case studies will provide an outline of successful characteristics that can potentially be reformed to work in other locations and social/physical contexts. Small-scale, community propelled and gender-conscious programs can be more democratic with higher concern for the community's well-being, as well as more sustainable. It is the citizens who are invested in the betterment of their community, in future water supplies and whose concerns often go unheard when an international corporation takes control of a water source. Building a water management system that mainstreams gender and gives voice to the previously disenfranchised individuals directly involved and impacted by its application can result in sustaining local resources for the community, can empower women, and can avoid negatively effecting the environment.