(En)Gendering Transboundary Water Governance: Feminist Perspectives on Water Conflict and Cooperation

On 29 and 30 September 2020, IHE Delft hosts an online cross-regional workshop on ‘(En)Gendering Transboundary Water Governance: Feminist Perspectives on Water Conflict and Cooperation’. 


Water conflict and cooperation at the transboundary level exist at the intersection of two highly masculinized fields: diplomacy and water resources management. By masculinized we not only mean that positions in this field are mainly held by men, but also that the core ideas, values, and guiding principles of these fields, as well norms about professionalism and leadership that are presented as neutral, are shaped by men and are based on male experiences. Numbers show that women are underrepresented in decision-making positions of transboundary river basin organisations. And beyond numbers, the processes, policy priorities and decisions are highly gendered.  This refers for example to what is seen as ‘normal’ or adequate behaviour in negotiations for men and women, the reasoning about why to seek confrontation or compromise, or the priorities identified in water allocation questions.

On the policy side, calls for giving women a stronger voice in political decision-making and conflict resolution on water often go hand in hand with problematic essentialized assumptions of women caring more for the environment, being less self-interested and more eager to find and accept compromise - while confrontation, dominance, competition, and war are associated with men.

With a few notable exceptions, research that addresses gender and water management or water governance has mainly been focusing on water supply and sanitation at household level or on local management in the agricultural sector. Empirical studies on the gender dimensions of water diplomacy and the role of men and women in water governance and conflict resolution at an interstate level are widely missing.

Aim of the workshop

With this workshop, we want to bring together researchers and practitioners to shed light on the often hidden gender dynamics of water conflict and cooperation at transboundary level and on the implicit assumptions that guide research as well as policies. We also strive to discuss how we can (en)gender more inclusive water diplomacy. We are interested equally in empirical case studies, discourse analyses, practitioners’ accounts and theoretical reflections.

Contributions could for example:

- Scrutinize the gendered nature of transboundary water governance and address the causes, dynamics and impacts of the different roles of men and women; 

- Analyse the reasons and impacts of the wide absence of women at higher decision-making levels on international waters;

- Evaluate gender mainstreaming policies of relevant actors in transboundary river basins;

- Uncover the masculinities in water diplomacy;

- Question the standard assumptions about who are the important actors, where are the important places and levels, what are the key issues in water diplomacy;

- Critically engage with assumptions of women having positive impact on peaceful, equitable and sustainable transboundary water governance;

- Analyse how gender stereotypes affect the dynamics of water negotiations. 

You are invited to join the workshop and contribute a paper. Participants will be selected based on the abstracts they submit. Prior to the workshop, all invited presenters are expected to submit their draft papers to facilitate in-depth discussions. The workshop will take place online. It will be split into two separate time slots on two dates, in order to limit the amount of screen-time and to allow people from different time zones to contribute. The exact timing will be fixed once the participants have been selected. We plan to publish (selected) papers of the workshop in an edited volume. 


  • 19 July: Deadline for abstracts
  • 31 July: Notification of authors
  • 20 September: Deadline for authors to submit full papers
  • 29 & 30 September: Online cross-regional workshop

Submission of abstracts

Please submit your abstract (max. 300 words) by sending it before the deadline of 19 July via: https://forms.gle/AbFBzrLBM8U9ZSQ58

When your abstract is accepted, you will be invited to give an online live presentation (no pre-recorded talks).

For questions please contact Jenniver Sehring: j.sehring@un-ihe.org.

For more information please visit the website. 

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