In the past decades, research findings have made governments as well as international and local agencies realize the important role played by women in water management. However, there is a lack of research on specific roles, tasks, and functions of women in irrigated agriculture, especially in Latin America. By considering women as a heterogeneous group among the different water user groups, this report seeks to understand the factors that influence the involvement of mestizo women in irrigated agriculture in two private irrigation canals in the province of Carchi, Ecuador. After an introduction to the study area, this report describes the users, their needs, and the different water uses of the two irrigation systems. Further, the degree of women's involvement in irrigated agriculture is defined. Finally, factors that limit women's involvement in irrigated agriculture and their participation in water user associations are identified. A typology based on "household life stage" and household composition is used to explain women's involvement in irrigated agriculture. Water user's relation to the resource and women's previous rural/urban background are analyzed for the different types of households. Women's participation in agriculture was higher in female-headed households. In households where the couple had small children, women's participation in agriculture was limited by family obligations. In households where an old couple lived by themselves, women were either too old or too sick to participate as they used to in agricultural activities. Finally, in households where the couple had no small children, women preferred to engage in other activities where they could control their income. It was also found that women with a rural background are more likely to participate in agricultural activities than those with an urban background. The study suggests that it is only by taking a closer look at the intra-household dynamics and urban/rural background that affect women in each of the different types of households, that we can properly explain women's involvement in irrigated agriculture.

Bastidas Elena
IWMI - International Water Management InstituteColombo LK
Water in de wereld - gender