Understanding the gender dimension of water and waste: Session 2
A gender perspective illuminates how gender roles and relations affect and are affected by WASH and water resource interventions. This understanding can increase sustainability and resource efficiency, and thereby enhance the benefits for all. Experience has shown that interventions that include the views, input and participation of both men and women generally work better. WASH services, water resource management and waste water management are not gender-neutral. Interventions are incomplete without a gender perspective and the active involvement of women.
Session 2: Embedding gender equality in decision-making on water and wastewater
Participation is a fundamental human rights principle, and it is widely accepted that participation of women is critical in decisions about water and wastewater. It is also clear that to institutionalise active and empowering participation systemic changes are required at all levels. A keynote on participation as the key to gender equality will be followed by group discussions on a range of practical experiences and tools that promote and support meaningful participation. We aim to shift the water sector from being largely ‘gender neutral’ to fulfilling its potential for transformative change in the lives of women and men.
Embedding gender equality in decision making on water and wastewater
14:00 Introduction to session and link to previous session
Louisa Gosling, WaterAid
14:05 Participation as key to gender equality in rights to water and sanitation
Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur on human rights to water and sanitation, OHCHR
14:15 Question – what state of gender in your organisation + poster pitch: Gender awareness in water and waste in Central Asia
Elena Tsay, UNESCO Tashkent Office, Uzbekistan
14:20 Paper pitches: Presenters of each of the following papers give 3 minute pitch on the key message of their experience
Moderator: Louisa Gosling
- BRAC’s gender-inclusive approaches for successful implementation of WASH interventions
Akramul Islam, BRAC
- From practical to strategic change: Enabling gender transformation in Vietnam
Juliet Willetts, University of Technology Sydney
- Indigenous Kichwa women lead community water and sanitation management, Ecuador
Deborah Payne, MedWater
- Women as agents of change in transboundary water governance
Isabelle Fauconnier, IUCN Global Water Programme
- Putting the 'I' into IWRM: A catchment learning approach
Christian J. Chonya, WWF Tanzania
- Safe drinking water: Does community participation in decision-making affect impact?
Anna Tompsett, Stockholm University
14:50 Table discussions on each paper – drawing out key issues for recommendations. Each table to have rapporteur from convening team to extract key lessons and record for report of the event
15:15 Each table gives top-line feedback from discussion
15:25 Response and summing up
Maitreyi Bordia Das, The World Bank
A gender perspective highlights how gender roles and relations affect and are affected by WASH and water resource interventions. This understanding can increase sustainability and resource efficiency, and thereby enhance the benefits for all. Experience has shown that interventions that include the views, input and participation of both men and women generally work better. WASH services, water resource management and waste water management are not gender-neutral. Interventions are incomplete without a gender perspective and the active involvement of women.
The seminar focused on three aspects; water quality, health and hygiene from a policy perspective; embedding gender equality in decision-making on water and wastewater and building enabling environments and empowerment for managing water and wastewater.
The successful seminar came up with salient messages which reflect universal access through gender-sensitive, safely managed water and sanitation (services) is a perquisite for reaching the goals and targets on equality and equity of agenda 2030. The importance of including women in decision-making on water has been widely recognized but it is still inadequate in practice. Change in community attitude towards women’s leadership is a major factor in empowering women to be part of the decision making bodies. The economic, social, and political support as well as good governance can ensure women leadership and strategic role in WASH management and water governance as a whole. In order for local communities and especially women to be respected and involved in a structured way in construction, operation and management of sanitation services in the broadest sense, we need to move from symbolic to meaningful participation, sector actors must take concrete steps to make women’s participation empowering.
The establishment of the enabling environment would ensure women participation which is not disabled by traditional gender roles and norms and to fully recognise the importance of their contributions, redesigning the school curricula so that waste water management can be organically integrated into the core education modules, instead of keeping it as a separate paper or activity. Companies need to create a work environment through adapted HR policies to ensure women can step up the career ladder, become key decision makers, and are free from harassment, create awareness among male leaders and colleagues on advantages of gender equal teams, women’s input, female colleagues and leaders and to enhance attention for and research on the specific effects of untreated used water discharge in a gender-sensitive manner and the longer run involving multiple stakeholder solutions.