Women, Water and Advancing Leadership
Women and water have a unique relationship. Women are most influenced when it comes to any issues relating to water. Women are considered responsible for household chores, and thus are often pushed to face the adversities rising in regard to water crisis. It does take great amount of time, energy and money to fulfill the water need of a family, in which women become sole responsible individual to work for its arrangement. At present, Rajasthan is facing a major water crisis and there has been decline in groundwater by 62.70 % in the state as per the study conducted by Central Ground Water Board in 2019.This alarming situation have adversely affected the lives of rural women. They often walk miles and for several hours to fetch water for their families as well as livestock. This greatly influences the health and economic wellbeing of a family, especially women. The location of water supply and irrigation structures often influences lives of women. Thus, it is easier if water Supply is closer to their houses as it allows them to effectively divide their time in between domestic and productive work.
Despite of pivotal relationship between women and water, it is disappointing to see very minimal presence of women in decision making positions regarding Water both at local as well as state level. To address this circumstance and to generate consciousness amongst women to take leadership on availability and decision on water, SPECTRA Organization has mobilized the women at the grass root level, moreover, motivated and paved the path towards collective action on water resource management. The women in the SHGs were mobilized, trained and supported to understand their role as primary water Decision makers and in being the potential change maker. In this regard, project ‘SHGs for sustainable water resource management and Restoration of water resource’ was initiated. To understand the current scenario household survey was conducted by team SPECTRA at the targeted villages to carry out the initiative. Following which, with the support of technical experts and suggestions from various stakeholders, constructions of two water reserve have been completed at Dhadikar and Hazipur Villages of Umren Block of Alwar District, Rajasthan. The construction of two water reserve was completely led by to tal 102 women from the SHGs under SPECTRA Organization (58 women in Dhadikar and 44 in Hazipur). This in turn helped them to earn a living as well as a sense of ownership has been instilled as they have been involved in the entire procedure of establishing the water Reserve.
The three days basic cum technical non-residential training was also conducted for two batches. This training became a space for gender sensitization, to motivate these women in decision making process and watershed management and its benefits. These trainings have been quite fruitful in making these women realize their roles and potentials. While looking at the individual level, the women have been quite empowered through this project and at the community as well, the constructions of the Water reserve have brought immense positive changes. To begin with, the water reserve will facilitate recharge into surrounding ground which in turn will improve soil moisture, agricultural productivity and mitigate against drought and moreover, assist recharge of shallow wells, hand pumps and boreholes. With the presence of Water Reserve in the village itself, the women no longer have to walk for longer distance to fetch water. The animals in the village get access to water which helped women in no longer spending on water for livestock. Ultimately the health of the women will be improved as they no longer have to involve in strenuous work of water fetching by walking miles.