Water insecurity is a significant, heavily gendered, and growing driver of poverty, vulnerability and risk. This paper explores the linkages between the social protection, water and gender sectors. It examines the ways in which water insecurity restricts female participation in social protection (and related education and employment opportunities) and undermines social protection efforts to promote health, nutrition and food security. It also considers the potential for social protection to support gender-sensitive improvements in water security, including by enhancing women’s and girls’ access to water and by increasing their capacity to manage water-related risks.
The paper argues that the linkages between social protection, water and gender concerns are more substantial than previously recognised, and that they will only become stronger as the effects of climate change and urbanisation intensify. Failure to explicitly acknowledge and address these linkages could hinder progress across the board, while better cross-sectoral understanding and action promises to generate more sustainable improvements in each sector and help lay the foundations for broader empowerment gains.