Gender Equity for a Water-Secure Future – the outcomes of Women’s participation in the Forum

By Ilse Mijnhart, Women for Water Partnership, Junior Communication and Project Officer

It was an eventful, exciting and above all successful Forum for women. Gender equality; the empowerment of all women and girls; the role of women as agents of change; and equitable access to water and sanitation for all uses was emphasised. These thematic areas were specifically highlighted in the pre-conference; in Thematic session 4.4.3 on ‘Women for Water: Agents of change for a new culture of water’; and in a special session on ‘Gender Equity for a Water-secure Future’.

Women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water. They are pivotal actors for water security and safety. To make use of this powerful influence upon the water sector, the women’s conference calls to acknowledge women as leaders, experts, agents of change, and partners on equal footing in the Water and Sustainable Development nexus. This can be implemented by including women in the decision-making process by setting quota of at least 40% women in water governing bodies at all levels and be ensuring that women’s voices are actually heard when assigning roles and reporting.

A further call was made to empower women to be leaders in the water sector, especially within and for a sustainable (blue and green) economy. A major issue to be avoided was captured by the paradigm of “not for them, without them”. To do so, women must be included at the table from “day one” in the search for appropriate water & sanitation solutions.

Looking ahead, the women called to make sure that the Sustainable Development Goals on Equity (5) and Water & Sanitation (6) and other water-related targets are accepted, confirmed and understood to be mutually enforcing. The SDG’s on Green Growth (12) to (15) were also seen as vital for a safe and sound water sector. In order to secure the contribution of women, participants were called to support social dialogue by lobbying and advocating for policy change to ensure women’s full economic participation in the growth of the green (and Blue) economy.

To secure Water for our Future, everyone should start thinking of implementation NOW with the input and involvement of women everywhere, who represent a large (and mainly) unused potential.

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