Story.Nov 14, 2023

Water network brings ripple effects on women’s careers

Within the past year, the SIWI supported 'The Women in Water Diplomacy Network' has gained tremendous momentum, not only through addition of new Network members from around the world, but also the impact it is creating on members' career trajectories. The Network is also supported through a partnership with the Environmental Law Institute.

This article is a compilation of testimonials from eight Network members who share their career updates and reflect on the impact of the Network on their career development. Several members answered that they have landed new roles in the past year, which has been a direct outcome of active engagement in the Women in Water Diplomacy Network.

The growth of Network members is a reflection of the Network’s global strategy.

In the coming year, several Network members are excited about driving forward the agenda of women’s participation in water cooperation and having a seat at the table.

Read members’ testimonials below:

Lyazzat Syrlybayeva

Woman smiling in front of a UN poster

Country of residence

Kazakhstan

Job position

Project analyst, UNDP Kazakhstan

How the Network has helped in the current role

The Women in Water Diplomacy Network has been a consistent and tremendous source of inspiration for my career development. Through this Network, I have connected with numerous exceptional women dedicated to the fields of water and environmental conservation.

What truly sets this Network apart is the unwavering support and collaboration among its members, who are always willing to assist one another. I am particularly grateful for the remarkable endorsements and recommendations I received from the Network’s process support team during my hiring process.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

I am eager to embark on a journey to explore the crucial intersection of water and biodiversity, while considering the imperative aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. My primary focus will be on the development and execution of initiatives and projects aimed at addressing challenges within these interconnected domains.

Furthermore, my commitment extends to the empowerment of women in traditionally underrepresented fields, such as forestry, fishery, and related areas. Given the current underrepresentation of women in these critical sectors, I am dedicated to overseeing capacity-building efforts that will not only promote gender equality but also harness the diverse and untapped potential of women. This holistic approach aligns with the United Nations’ broader Sustainable Development Goals and will contribute to more inclusive and effective strategies for environmental preservation and climate resilience.

Tahani Sileet  

Woman in a head scarf and intricate large necklace

Country of residence

Egypt

Job position

Minister Assistant for International Cooperation

How the Network has helped in the current role

Although my current role  is a vertical promotion within the Ministry, and not an outcome of the Network, the exposure provided by the network has helped increase my self confidence.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

I am excited about opening new horizons for cooperation in the coming year. I want to accomplish this not only through the representation of the Ministry in regional and international organizations, but also through tangible projects to overcome the challenges that Egypt is facing in the field of water resources management.

Cholpon Aitakhunova

Woman with a white shirt, speaking into a mic

Country of residence

Germany/Kyrgyzstan

Job position

Project Manager, Collective Leadership Institute gGmbH (CLI)

How the Network has helped in the current role

The past few years were decisive in bringing me to this point of my career where I am now. More than a year ago, I joined Collective Leadership Institute (CLI) as a research fellow under an international climate protection scholarship program of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and focused on studying collective leadership approaches and applying them to collaboration systems in water and climate contexts in Central Asia.

As a member of the network, throughout the past year, I had tremendous opportunities to get actively engage in local to global multi-sector water processes such as national water talks in Kyrgyzstan, Dushanbe Water Process, World Water Week, and the UN 2023 Water Conference.

To be part of these processes, one not only needs to be in them, but also have relevant preparation and support, and the Network was exactly about such an environment for me in this journey.

With the support of our Network, its partners and CLI, I had significant professional growth in the past year: in diverse aspects of water and its governance topically, in collective leadership methodologies, as well as enhanced my public speaking, network building and communication skills through the regular exposure to rich knowledge, expertise, and experience from diverse basins across the world, and connection to amazing individuals who represent our women in water community. As a member of the Network, I feel belonging to a caring, committed, and capacious community and concerted global action.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

My new role with CLI empowers me to work on building collaborations across all borders for a better world, including in and for water action.

At CLI I work on building quality collaborations for scalable sustainability transformations through competence building for these. My hope and intention are that more and more practitioners and the complex systems and contexts they come from can benefit from learning and applying collective leadership approaches in their partnerships for sustainability.

I admire the idea of connecting people, ideas, and opportunities, and I am excited to be well equipped to work exactly on this being part of CLI team and remaining a dedicated member of our global network.

Sogol Jafarzadeh

Woman in a suit, wearing and SDG pin with green nature in the background

Country of residence

Zimbabwe

Job position

Governance and Gender Coordinator for East and Southern Africa, United Nations University – Institute for Water, Environment and Health

How the Network has helped in the current role

The Network has played a hugely important role in helping me establish myself in my new position. Network members have helped me reach out to potential partners in the region, allowed me to brainstorm and test ideas for new initiatives with them and mentored me when I have needed guidance. The Network inspires me every day, and gives the feeling that we are all on a learning journey together.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

Women’s Environmental Leadership! I am looking forward to working towards inclusive governance processes and gender equality at all levels of decision-making.

Currently, women’s participation in water governance is significantly behind the targets set by governments. We need to take bold steps to bridge this gender gap in representation and decision-making.

Karabo Mokgonyana

Woman in traditional headgear smiling at the camera

Country of residence

South Africa

Job position

Jim Ruben International Fellow at Environmental Law Institute

How the Network has helped in the current role

This opportunity [of my current role] came about as a result of one of the Network members sharing it with me and recommending me for it. The network has created an environment in which I can access shared opportunities.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

I am truly excited for the opportunity to develop my career as a young professional but also to network and be in a different environment, in the U.S.A, for the duration of the fellowship.

Nompumelelo Ntshalintshali

Woman in a read coat

Country of residence

Eswatini

Job position

GlobeCare Executive Director

How the Network has helped in the current role

The Network has helped me identify gaps in the water sector, particularly in transboundary water management through engaging and sharing experiences with network members. I am one of the founders of the newly registered CSO (Civil Society Organization) – GlobeCare Foundation. One of our objectives is to advocate for gender mainstreaming in the water security policies and strategies and further operationalize these policies and strategies. Gender mainstreaming is not new in the water sector but implementation is slow. There is still a gap between policy and practice.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

Ensuring that all gender groups are represented at all levels and there is equal opportunity to raise voices and participate in decision making processes in water management.

Dr. Adanech Yared Jillo

Woman sitting with folded hands in a cafeteria / coworking space

Country of residence

Uganda

Job position

Nile River Basin Investment Program Regional Coordinator/Expert at NBI/Nole-SEC; and President of Ethiopian Women in Water Association

How the Network has helped in the current role

The Network has helped me to expand the ongoing work of the Women in Water Association.

The UN Water Conference 2023 accreditation training arranged by the Network, helped the Association prepare, submit, and get accreditation for the Ethiopian Women in Water Association to physically participate in the UN Water Conference 2023.

This enabled us to learn new approaches and ideas to achieve the objective of the Association, advertise it, build partnerships and network with experts and influencers working in the various water sectors, share the experiences of other successful associations and organizations, and learn from experts and influencers in the sector on new approaches and ideas on how we can contribute to the delivery of the SDGs.

The Association gained an opportunity to work as a member of the coalition and the working group Transformative Future Water Security (TFWS), the Multi-Stakeholder Coalition for the Call for Action: Accelerating Gender Equality in the Water Domain.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

These are the following things that I am excited to drive in my current role in the upcoming year:

  • Actively participate and contribute to the success of the Network.
  • Doing my best to achieve the objectives of the Ethiopian Women in Water Association,
  • Actively participating in and contributing to Transformative Future Water Security,
  • Actively participate and contribute to achieve the objectives of the Multi-Stakeholder Coalition for the Call for Action: Accelerating Gender Equality in the Water Domain
  • Joining different coalitions and networks and actively participating and contributing to the successful achievement of the objectives of the coalitions and networks.
  • I will do all in my power to guarantee that the Nile River Basin Investment Program is implemented successfully and that women will profit from it.
  • I’ll continue to support those in need and encourage my friends to put in a lot of effort so that we can make as many women, men, and their families to smile as possible.

Jacqueline NYIRAKAMANA

Woman in black and white clothes

Country of residence

Rwanda

Job position

Transboundary Water Resources Cooperation Specialist and NEL-TAC (Nile Equatorial Lakes Technical Committee) Chair in Ministry of Environment

How the Network has helped in the current role

The Women in Water Diplomacy Network has helped me a lot in my daily work. I have learned much from the network about the role and importance of involving women in water diplomacy. As member  of  Nile/NEL Technical Advisory committee, I was able demonstrate how importance of gender equality and social inclusion in Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) /Nile Equatorial Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) and projects and this will be taken into consideration during the NBI/NELSAP Project cycle. Also I was part of a training on GEIS within NELSAP activities. and I am planned to share my knowledge with others stakeholders especially young water professionals

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

I will help NBI/NELSAP to achieve its mandate by providing strategic guidance and also to help in promoting gender mainstreaming in all planned activities within NBI/NELSAP.

Muna Mohammed Musnad Farah

Woman with glasses and hijab

Country of residence

Ethiopia

Job title

Water Resources Modeler, ENTRO

How the Network has helped in the current role

Being a member of the Network and engagement in different activities of the network increased my self confidence, my knowledge and my skills which reflected clearly in the interview processes. Particularly, when I answered the question ‘related to ‘why should we hire you’ and the other question ‘what are you going to add to the transboundary water resources issues in the Nile Basin’.

I convinced the interview panel that the necessity of changing the concept from sharing the source to sharing the benefit of the source, or what is known as water diplomacy, is the effective way to reach cooperation at the Nile Basin level. Also, I convinced them that I gained my knowledge in transboundary issues in addition to gain managerial and strategic skills due to my memrship in the leadership council of the Network.

What work you are excited about driving in the upcoming year

One of the innovative approaches I can think of is how to model social aspect like gender and social equality how to come up with measurable indicators.

The Network

The Women in Water Diplomacy Network engages senior and mid-career women professionals from Ministries of Water and Ministries of Foreign Affairs, as well as other relevant line ministries from across the Nile Basin and beyond.

Read more