Empowering women in water – perspectives from the African region

IWA Women in Water, Gender, WASH

Target Audience

IWA members and non-members, IWA SGs, IWA YWP Community, Women and Men working in the Water Sector, Students, etc


This webinar is organised by the IWA “Sustainability in the Water Sector” Specialist Group in collaboration with the African Water Association (AfWA), and it is also connected to the IWA Inclusive Urban Sanitation (IUS) Initiative.

While the water challenges of both the present and the future call for us to bring the best talent, knowledge, capacities, and effort we can to attract and retain both women and men, there is currently inadequate investment in developing the skills and talents of women, recruiting them into the water sector, providing a wide range of opportunities for them to participate and use their skills, and supporting their efforts. As a result, women are numerically under-represented in areas ranging from skilled trades workers to management, as well as subject to inadequate support in optimising their contributions.

Water scarcity in Africa affects one in every three people. Nearly 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are denied even a basic drinking water supply. At least 14 million women just in Sub-Saharan Africa travel long distances to collect water. While climate is an important factor driving water stress in Africa and around the world, poor management of water resources and services is the biggest challenge.

There is an urgent need to advance women’s participation in decision-making and to better understand the social dimensions which affect the water collection and management practices in African countries. The effort taken to fetch water by women and the extreme gender imbalance in water collection and management are key indicators for measuring progress in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector in this region.

The content of this webinar is based on the responses to a survey of Young Water Professionals (YWPs) globally, carried out since 2020. The session will involve both senior and junior women professionals from the African region while presenting experiences suitable for a wider and global audience. The speakers will provide their perspectives, lessons learned, and suggestions, considering issues like cultural context, recruitment/retention of women into a wide range of roles, and the particular challenges to women in leadership positions.

Learning Objectives

The presentations and discussion in this webinar will equip participants to:

  • Identify barriers and opportunities related to diversity and inclusion of women in the water industry, in terms of not only hiring them but supporting their ability to maximise their contributions;
  • Identify actions and interventions that can be applied by water and sanitation organisations to promote a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive working environment;
  • Develop ideas to personally overcome current barriers and contribute to a more supportive work environment for themselves by applying the experiences and knowledge from the presentations;
  • Gain awareness of new and innovative approaches from the webinar discussions.

Additional Resources

Q&A report: TBA

Webinar presentation slides: Download here

Past IWA webinars:


International Water Association