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The need to incorporate women in development interventions has widely been highlighted in development literature. Despite recent attempts to include women in such efforts, the FAO’s 2011 State of the Agriculture Report points out that gender imbalance is still a major concern. This study focuses on the Guyu-Chelesa irrigation scheme in Zimbabwe in an attempt to understand women’s involvement in water governance institutions that are set up around these schemes. At one level, women are well-represented in these institutions. Nonetheless, despite their representation in positions of high-level decision making, their actual decision-making power is limited. For this reason, this paper argues that women, in water resource infrastructure management and rehabilitation, may be represented in form only, with highly circumscribed powers. This study makes recommendations on how to understand and take into account the differential gender power dynamics which are at play in such irrigation schemes. In particular, the study recommends that access to irrigation be linked to control of calls for a valuation of women’s contribution and the need to engage in broader societal changes as far as gender relations — well beyond the irrigation schemes — are concerned. Such a dialogue would also entail engagement of both men and women.



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