In celebration of International Woman’s Day, researchers at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) were asked to share what they think is important for a more inclusive, gender equal world, here.
Mine is a snapshot of what I’m currently working on, and why a focus on gender is important in water governance:
As an intern in the South Africa office of IWMI, I am working on issues of social inclusiveness and gender responsiveness in transboundary groundwater governance. Since transboundary arrangements can influence gendered livelihoods and wellbeing on the local level, a gendered approach to reading law and policy on all levels is important. The failure to address gender in transboundary groundwater governance can jeopardize water security and livelihood options for small communities in the border regions, enhancing risks to social cohesions, livelihoods and wellbeing. However, such an approach requires bold persistence, as despite its importance, gender considerations are often sidelined, and are almost invisible in transboundary arrangements.
Women are already important water managers, and it is therefore important to inspire and engage more women and girls to become leaders in decision-making that affects water equity.
To accelerate the achievement of gender equality in water and land management, IWMI must continue emphasizing the importance of inclusive and representative decision making at all levels, from local to transboundary, in striving for a gender-equal world.
I have just returned from a fantastic week in Uruguay for a workshop on “Groundwater Governance: Drawing Connections between Science, Knowledge and Policy-Making” organised by the Strathclyde Centre of Environmental Law and Governance(SCELG) and CEREGAS (Centro Regional para la Gestion de Aguas Subterraneas en America Latina y el Caribe), and funded by the British Council and its Researcher Links Programme.
The workshop took place in Salto, in the North-Western part of Uruguay, on the border with Argentina, and was attended by 28 researchers, 14 from UK based institutions and 14 from Uruguay. The most valuable thing I took away from the week was the amount I learnt from the other participants, all from different countries, backgrounds and disciplines. The ability to learn about groundwater governance from hydrogeologists, lawyers, anthropologists, social and political scientists, engineers, and economists, who were all in the same room discussing the same problems, was a rare privilege. The humbleness and willingness to share knowledge by all participants set this workshop apart.
Throughout the week, the workshop built on the results of the 2011-2014 Groundwater Governance Project (a joint initiative of UNESCO-IHP, FAO, GEF, the World Bank and the IAH), which produced a Global Diagnostic, a Shared Global Vision for 2030 and a Global Framework of Action. A SCELG/CEREGAS Working Paper with contributions from all of the participants was an immediate output of the workshop, launched on World Water Day 2016: click here to access.
Director of SCELG, Francesco Sindico, wrote this piece summarising the workshop.
Group picture by the Central Hidroeléctrica Binacional de Salto Grande just north of Salto and Concordia.
We were asked to work in groups and then present throughout the workshop.
The final session of the workshop took place in Montevideo at the MERCOSUR headquarters building. In the picture from left to right: Francesco Sindico (University of Strathclyde), Zelmira May (UNESCO), Jorge Rucks (CEREGAS), Lidia Brito (UNESCO) and Graham Stanley (British Council).