Women’s role in farmer-managed irrigated agriculture in Nepal is becoming more important as men are increasingly leaving rural areas in search for more lucrative employment. 

Policy reforms mandating 33% women’s representation in water user associations (WUA) provide the opportunity but do not ensure women’s meaningful participation in irrigation sector projects unless specific measures are planned, budgeted, implemented, and monitored. Effective and targeted social mobilization and capacity development is required to foster meaningful participation in decision making for farmer-managed irrigation systems (FMIS). Besides gender sensitization of all WUA members, women need confidence building and incentives through training and leadership opportunities to be effectively involved in WUA activities and decision making.

A comprehensive gender action plan (GAP) with gender-based targets, indicators, and other inclusive features developed and incorporated in the project design and monitoring framework (DMF) during the design phase leads to positive project outcomes.

This case study is part of an ADB publication titled Gender Equality Results Case Studies: Nepal that contain case studies that provide an overview of gender issues in selected sectors.