This working paper by Smita Mishra Panda, Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) on the case of SEWA’s water campaign in Gujarat that was presented at the CGIAR systemwide program on collective action and property rights (CAPRi).
Some of the significant factors that have sustained women’s collective action are the presence of strong grassroots institutions, the establishment of a technical cadre of women, the ability of women’s groups to transcend social barriers and continuous dialoguing with the state. Women have benefited in terms of increased income, reduced drudgery, improvements in the livelihoods of their families, reduced migration of both women and men and increased participation in SEWA’s other programs.
The most important impact observed is the strengthening of women’s collective agency and women’s confidence to independently negotiate in the public domain in the water management sector, which was earlier occupied by men. Women’s collective agency has catalyzed some gender-equitable change processes at the household level among SEWA leaders but the impacts are not yet widespread.