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Gender and property rights in the commons: Examples of water rights in South Asia

  • Margreet Zwarteveen
  • Ruth Meinzen-Dick

In many countries and resource sectors, the state is devolving responsibility for natural resource management responsibility to ``communities'' or local user groups. However, both policymakers and researchers in this area have tended to ignore the implications of gender and other forms of intra-community power differences for the effectiveness and equity of natural resource management. In the irrigation sector, despite the rhetoric on women's participation, a review of evidence from South Asia shows that organizations often exclude women through formal or informal membership rules and practices. Women may have other ways to obtain irrigation services, but even if they are effective, these other informal ways of obtaining irrigation services are typically less secure. As resource management – and rights to resources – are transferred from the state to local organizations, ensuring women's participation is essential for gender equity in control over resources. Greater involvement of women can also strengthen the effectiveness of local organizations by improving women's compliance with rules and maintenance contributions. Further detailed and comparative research is required to identify the major factors that affect women's participation and control over resources, if devolution policies are to be both equitable and sustainable. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

Volume (Year): 18 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 11-25

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Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:18:y:2001:i:1:p:11-25
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  1. repec:iwt:bosers:h019765 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Yoder, R., 1994. "Locally managed irrigation systems: essential tasks and implications for assistance, management transfer and turnover programs," IWMI Books, Reports H011888, International Water Management Institute.
  3. Jordans, Eva H. & Zwarteveen, Margreet Z., 1997. "A well of one's own: gender analysis of an irrigation program in Bangladesh," IWMI Books, International Water Management Institute, number 113611.
  4. Jordans, E. H. & Zwarteveen, M. Z., 1997. "A well of one's own: gender analysis of an irrigation program in Bangladesh," IWMI Books, Reports H020806, International Water Management Institute.
  5. Lastarria-Cornhiel, Susana, 1997. "Impact of privatization on gender and property rights in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 1317-1333, August.
  6. Bakker, M. & Barker, R. & Meinzen-Dick, R. & Konradsen, F., 1999. "Multiple uses of water in irrigated areas: a case study from Sri Lanka," IWMI Books, Reports H024568, International Water Management Institute.
  7. Yoder, Robert, 1994. "Locally managed irrigation systems: essential tasks and implications for assistance, management transfer and turnover programs," IWMI Books, International Water Management Institute, number 114044.
  8. Edella Schlager & Elinor Ostrom, 1992. "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 249-262.
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