Nandita Singh


Women and water are linked in several ways, an important pragmatic linkage being their role in water management. Several continuous efforts at positively transforming this role have been made during the last three decades, ranging from their improved role as domestic water managers to eliciting their greater participation in water management initiatives at community level. Studies tend to indicate that the anticipated ends of such exercises are universally achievable, in isolation of the prevailing social and cultural contexts where the women are placed. This paper seeks to unfold the realities underlying the universalistic claims regarding a transformed role for women in water management. Considering the importance of 'context' in the construction of gender ideologies and relations, through a micro-level study in the rural Indian context, this paper argues that the transformation of women's role in water management cannot be taken as a universal reality. The findings suggest that the existing role can be effectively modified only when interventions are built upon realistic, workable strategies that are meaningful and acceptable to the women and their communities.