Gender, Social Capital and Collective Action: A gender perspective on collective sustainability of water resource governance in west Nepal

In Nepal, as in other South Asian countries, water resource development is often considered to be a primarily technological challenge, requiring engineered solutions. Many years of advocacy for gender equality in water management - drawing attention to the need for local institutional changes has shifted this outlook. Thus, today women’s participation in water user associations (WUA) is encouraged and identified to be key in enabling gender equality, a more equal participation in water governance, and a more equal share of water infrastructure and services. Nonetheless, these well intention efforts tend to overlook complex social dynamics in rural areas, which influence the effectiveness of women’s participation. If initiatives to engaging women are to succeed in promoting gender equality, they must be considered in the light of the wider social and political contexts – of what makes for a community, a society.