Women, Water, Climate: Tackling the Challenges

The devastating impacts of climate change on people, their environment as well as on the economies of countries are felt in all regions of the world and in every strata of society. Ironically, however, the deadliest impacts of the vagaries of the weather are on those who are the least responsible for causing climate issues. These are the people living in areas of high poverty and low resources. Among them, women are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and their most visible effect, water scarcity, but they often lack a voice in decision-making processes by virtue of their reduced access to resources and restricted rights.

Women’s role in water
To foster regional cooperation and policy dialogue that promotes sustainable development in the face of climate change, Women for Water Partnership (WfWP) with partners NetWater (NWW) and Soroptimist International of the Southwest Pacific (SISWP) organised a virtual conference, “Women, Water, Climate: Tackling the Challenges.” Financial support was provided by Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), Sweden. The conference was held online on 2 and 3 November 2020, and was preceded by a series of eight webinars held in October which outlined case study experiences of communities in South Asia. These series of on-line events were designed to build capacities, share knowledge and increase collaboration among key stakeholders through dialogue with participating experts, young water professionals and community leaders.

The webinars were presented through case studies that voiced the views of women, youth, indigenous people and marginalised communities who would otherwise not have been heard in decisive discussions. Most of the webinars featured the catalytic role played by women in the use and management of water which had led to substantial improvements in the lives, livelihoods, and overall well-being of their communities. Their experiences confirm that women not only have the capacities to contribute to solutions on water security issues, but that they are an essential component if these solutions are to be equitable and sustainable in the long-term. Most importantly, the case studies substantiate the fact that women are now emerging not only as casualties of climate change. They are transforming into powerful agents of change whose uniquely indigenous experience, knowledge and skills are vital for inclusion in planning and implementation strategies formulated to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Here’s what participants said of the Women for Water Webinars: 

Amanda Loeffen, CEO, Human Right 2 Water
“I was impressed by the range of strong and successful women that are working in this sector, not only in academia, but also at the community level. Young women are especially important for sharing their work on topics related to water and climate adaptation, and it must be inspiring for young people around the world. It has encouraged us to think more creatively about how we can engage young people, especially women, into our own programmes.”

Giulia Cadoni, intern, UNESCO WWAP (World Water Assessment Programme)
“The conference strengthened my knowledge and understanding of the relevance the issue of gender equality has in our everyday life. It widened my understanding on how policies and regulations, both at the international or local level, appear to be more effective in cases where a wider number of people are taken into account during the decision-making process. Certainly, it is important that national or international regulation represents all of us. In addition to this, it became clear to me that by actively changing some daily habits, we can help to fight existing gender inequality, and in turn influence the nature of decision-making processes.

For more information, please visit: womenforwater.org, or download the report below.

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, IWA will be hosting a webinar at 15:00 CET on empowering women in water. Register now!


Documents and reports attached to this page

Mariet Verhoef-Cohen

Women for Water President