Working for Social Justice
This theme explores the social justice challenge of reducing differences in opportunities, rights, involuntary risks, sharing of benefits and access through changing the form of engagement in water governance. We focus our attention on issues of social equity that differentiates according to gender, ethnicity and class. In so doing, we place power at the centre of our research.
This research theme explores the conditions and terms under which different groups of people participate in water governance and the consequences for their well-being, especially health and food security. We also ask similar questions about other potentially socially vulnerable groups in the region, particularly ethnic minorities, immigrants, urban slum dwellers and landless farmers. Finally, we look at how class, ethnicity and gender issues intersect and any interdependencies generated.
The third volume of our edited book series examines Water Rights and Social Justice.
Our thesis is that engagement with socially susceptible groups (in both rationale and practice) is often instrumental; that is, it is geared to advocate particular decisions rather than enable the advancement of target group interests. In the case of women, for example, the term ‘participatory’ covers a wide range of applications: from (often unpaid) labor utilization, mobilization for tasks often perceived as extensions of their domestic roles, to token presence in deliberations on community financing.
The social justice challenge is not just a question of process, but also one of outcomes and impacts on the livelihoods of marginalized groups. Action-research needs to identify inequalities and then work to improve outcomes for the disadvantaged. Changing discriminatory and unfair practices that result in unequal rights, benefits and work is a difficult but key goal of M-POWER.