27.07.2016 - Natural Sciences Sector

Water, if not engendered, is endangered!

©Marco Tonsini

Water is a gendered issue. Although women play a key role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water, gender inequality persists around the globe.

In line with UNESCO global priority, WWAP is committed to advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in the water realm.

The second edition of the capacity development programme on “Water and Sustainable Development”, funded by AGFUND and organized by WWAP from 11 to 15 July 2016, offered an opportunity to 20 policy makers from the African region (10 male and 10 female) to think through gender-sensitive water monitoring, assessment and reporting.

A session of the workshop was indeed dedicated to the theme “Engendering Water: WWAP Gender & Water Toolkit in View of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In particular, the synergies between the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality and women’s empowerment) and 6 (water and sanitation) were highlighted drawing on concrete case studies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.


Gender norms, customs and practices that prevent women from participating in, contributing to and benefiting from water resources management were also debated. Participants agreed that the engagement of men and boys is key to challenging gender-based discrimination in the water realm and that empowering women at the decision-making level is pivotal to water management.


The lack of sex-disaggregated data is a major obstacle to the production of scientific evidence on gender inequalities related to water and to the formulation of evidence-based policies. Participants concurred that there is a need to strengthen the capacity at the regional and national level in Africa to collect and analyse sex-disaggregated water data. The Gender and Water toolkit developed by WWAP provides a pioneering methodological framework and indicators to assess the current status of freshwater resources on a global scale using a gender lens.


Following the development of the toolkit, WWAP is promoting a capacity development programme at the regional level on the collection, analysis and reporting on sex-disaggregated water data to accelerate gender-sensitive water policies towards the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.


Policy makers participating in the training agreed that investing in engendering water contributes to strengthening social inclusion, eradicating poverty and advancing environmental sustainability.



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