“Women in ‘Commons’ Management Practices and Studies”


Addressing Gender Equality is now urgent in all matters of social-ecological-economics-cultural and political importance as is also part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG5).

The Future of Women conference since in its early phase (3rd in 2020) is a right time to transcend the gender discourse beyond the regular discourse of education, medical, social work, maternal health, safety, domestic issues, children development, professional and leadership challenges; to the natural and common pool resources management including role of women in managing the rivers, wetlands, forests, bio-diversity, animals, fish, birds, irrigation, infrastructure, climate change, poverty, knowledge and even the politics and the planet.

The proposed panel is a sequel of a successful panel organized at the 17th Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons organized at Lima, Peru in July 2019, where we (with Prof. Tine de Moor of Utrecht University, The Netherlands) conducted two sessions on the ‘Gender Balance in the Commons Management Practices and Studies’ with eight entries discussing gender issues pan resources from across the globe. Being a regular member of the IASC scientific committee, it is a wish that the IASC and the FOW (with the proposed panel at the FOW2020) in future collaborate to strengthen the Gender Equality in all kinds of decision making in resource management for achieving responsible behavioral production and consumption patterns (SDG-12). Since the social-ecological resources of the planet are rapidly deteriorating/diminishing with the adverse political decisions augmented with the climate change impacts. Also, since women historically have been instrumental in bringing the necessary behavioral shifts from the core unit of a house to the village to the city and to the country level.

The panel intends to celebrate the women as equal partner in all the opportunities and challenges posed by the society and importantly women are onboard in the key decision and actions in the future. The panel, therefore, invites papers on the roles, the opportunities, the challenges and the milestones of women in the natural and common pool resource management and their studies spanning from urban to rural, local to global context.

The panel further invites papers from both urban and rural settings with a larger goal towards acknowledging the crucial role that women have in the natural and common pool resource management practices and studies. The panel hopes to receive a large response from contributors and depending on the submission the panel will be re-organised.

If you are interested in contributing, please contact Dr. Mansee Bal Bhargava at mansee.bal.bhargava@gmail.com.

Dr. Mansee Bal Bhargava

Environmental Design Consultants Ahmedabad



Professor Panjab University India

Prof. Pampa Mukherjee

[ Panelist ]

Panjab University

Gender and Social Development Specialist

Geeta Bhatrai Bastakoti

[ Panelist ]

Gender and Social Development Specialist

Presidency University Bangalore

Dr. Rosewine joy

[ Panelist ]

Presidency University

Programme In Charge- Women and Child Development India

Laxmi Thakur

[ Panelist ]

Programme In Charge- Women and Child Development

Discussion Topics

Control over land and natural resources has recently become a subject of debate in India. There are numerous cases in different states which indicate that village common lands are a prime target of land takeovers and are justified in the name of economic growth, urbanization and industrialization. States like Punjab are no exception to this syndrome, and one witnesses drastic but silent transformation taking place in the rural areas of the region. Shamlat or the common lands, once an integral feature of almost every village is shrinking due to multiple reasons, prime being encroachment and illegal sale and in this, the villages near large cities are the worst hit. Such transformations have also affected the economically and socially vulnerable communities particularly Dalits and women. In fact, such developments have impacted landless Dalit women more specifically as they experience double marginality, in a State which is not only overtly patriarchal but deeply embedded in the caste hierarchy despite strong influence of Sikhism. Interestingly, however, in the last few years small and medium farmers including women are in a forefront of a struggle trying to reclaim the lost commons- the reserved Shamlat land on which they have legal claims. They have now started collective farming to withstand onslaughts of economic distress and address issues of livelihood.  It may be mentioned here that while these developments have resulted in what Hardin would call “tragedy of the commons”, it also urges social scientists to engage and look at these transformations  in recent times more critically and not treat them merely as a site to understand rurality in isolation but  in relation to changes taking places in states like Punjab in post green revolution phase. There is a need to look at the changes in intersection with gender and caste. Based on micro level analysis of select villages in Sangrur and Patiala district, the present study would try understanding the implications of declining common land on women from marginal communities and reflect on the contemporary dynamics of the present land struggle. In doing so, it will engage with issues like land rights, equity justice, gender and caste conflict associated with ‘common lands’ in the region.

In rural agrarian communities, women farmers are often considered as silent workforce. Their efforts in understanding the resource dynamics and managing the harvest is though well documented is hardly recognized as economic activity. In the wake of changing climate, many existing agrarian production systems are facing threat or decreased production. As an adaptation strategy, many farming systems are moving from traditional crops to new species, new technologies and new farming methods. In this dynamic the changing role of women in agriculture is not well recognized. The study tries to understand the shifting rural agrarian dynamics in periurban Bangalore Karnataka, where farming has moved from Raggi to other farming systems such as floriculture and horticulture due to water stress and reduced land availability with increased urbanisation. This has changed the women farmers and their association with resources, and their bargaining power agrarian decision making. Hence objectives of the study are firstly to assess the changing farming patterns in climate vulnerable Peri-urban Bangalore, Karnataka and secondly to examine the changing resource-gender–power dynamics in farming sector. The case study is based on two panchayaths in rural Karnataka Rajanakunde and Doddaballapur. Primary data is collected through unstructured questionnaires , key informant interviews and focus groups. The result shows the changing relations in terms of gender and resources and gender and power in the sector.


Exposure to female leaders can lead to the transformation of community-level gender perceptions as well as the empowerment of young girls and women. However, factors such as illiteracy, lack of mobility and power imbalances act as impediments to women realising their leadership potential. Seva Mandir, a grassroots organization working with rural and marginalized communities in southern Rajasthan, seeks to bring out this hindered potential, by equipping local women with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to exercise leadership in an otherwise maledominated society through the building of institutions such as Self Help Groups, Water Management Committees, Childcare Centers and Women’s Resource Centres. Additionally, by engaging with and sensitising local men, including powerful stakeholders such as caste leaders on women’s issues, as well as the youth, Seva Mandir motivates them to become part of the local female empowerment movement. This paper presents and examines case studies of these empowered women, in order to demonstrate how creating leadership spaces for them can result in not only their own empowerment, but also that of girls and women around them. Additionally, we provide an analysis of common trends between the individual journeys of these women, highlighting the common barriers, support systems and opportunities for intervention, with a view to helping inform the design and implementation of future women empowerment initiatives. The case studies have been sampled through a review of Seva Mandir’s extensive archive, which consists of documentation and research spanning the past 50 years.

The linkages of natural resource management and gender-social dimensions has been documented and augmented over the years both at micro and macro level. Despite the various ongoing efforts, gender and social equality processes has never been an easy process because of local complexities and contextual dynamics at micro-meso-macro level. The changing context of governance structure and policies with federal structure embarks new dynamism and new challenges for natural resources management within and across province borders for Nepal. Whilst achieving sustainable development goals target 5-gender equality alongside cross cutting themes is crucial. This paper discusses the need and approaches of programs and policies in place for Gender and Social equality in natural resources programs, gaps and recommendations to achieve it with acceleration.


The aim of the study is to celebrate the role of women in shaping the built environment through architecture. The objective is to highlight the contribution of women in the profession and bring forth the critical points that needs to be addressed at individual, institutional and collective level to understand what makes/breaks/tweaks the career of women architects in the India. The study is a call to action for both men and women in the architecture profession to realize the need for equitable architectural practice in order to advance towards sustainable architecture. The study is based on the presumption of the profession being heavily patriarchal. Some challenges of lesser recognition to women architects are presumed to be: women are not documenting and dissemination their work enough to be recognized; the profession only recognizes practicing professionals to be architects whereas those in research and education are excluded where women constitute a large number; women are multi-tasking even within the profession thus mostly lesser identified as masters; women architects collaborating with their spouse or otherwise in research/practice are mostly recognized by the partner; women architects in education have a challenge being recognized as architects; and last but not the least recognition does not matter much to women as they are constantly living in this perception that they are accommodating life as well as work to their best but not enough for recognition.

A documentation of the biographical journey of thirty women architects from practice, research and education from Ahmedabad are planned as cases/subjects of the study. The interview with the subjects is through both video and verbal documentation. The interview is simple in order to generate a simple story telling kind of narration covering broad sub-sections- life that led to architecture, opportunities and challenges to be in the profession, perception of people around, perception on gender in the profession and in making the cities. A Coffee Table Book comprising of short stories is planned alongside a series of documentary in the form of you tube videos to enhance the outreach, for example, watch Here>>

Date: 13th February 2020 

Audience: All Conference Participants