Building peace in the minds of men and women

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2019: Innovative solutions towards a water-secure world for all

08 March 2019

On the occasion of the 2019 International Women’s Day, we celebrate the ongoing efforts of key stakeholders to achieve gender equality in the water realm in the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System (STAS) shared by Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, as well as in the Ocotepeque-Citalá Transboundary Aquifer shared by El Salvador and Honduras.

For the first time ever, a gender-responsive water assessment has been conducted within a project focused on groundwater governance in transboundary aquifers. This is the result of the application of the innovative UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) Toolkit on “Sex-disaggregated Water Data” within the “Groundwater Resources Governance in Transboundary Aquifers” (GGRETA) Project, implemented by UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). In cooperation with local institutions, WWAP conducted intrahousehold gender surveys in Botswana and Namibia in key sites within STAS as well as within the Ocotepeque-Citalá Transboundary Aquifer.

Capacity development is also at the core of this project. In February and March 2019, five national capacity development workshops were conducted in Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana and South Africa) and Central America (El Salvador and Honduras) engaging some 132 participants (75% women and 25% men) representing both government as well as non-government institutions, regional organizations, civil society, academia, and university students.

“We have learned about critical indicators for conducting gender-responsive water assessment, monitoring and reporting. Sex-disaggregated water data are key to informing policies and frameworks that aim to address gender inequality in the water sector”, said Sofía Novoa, Head of the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, participating in the workshop in El Salvador.

"I believe that a shift in mindset is required for both men and women to challenge gender-based discrimination in the water realm. In addition, women should be empowered to voice their concerns and interests and appropriate mechanisms should be in place to ensure they fully participate in decision-making processes related to water use and management”, said Mr. Ntokozo Khanyile from the Department of Water and Sanitation Affairs, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, participating in the gender workshop in South Africa.

UNESCO WWAP is committed towards promoting innovative solutions for bridging the gap in sex-disaggregated data in the water sector and to supporting members states in strengthening their capacity to produce evidence for data-driven water policies and programmes towards a water-secure world for all.