Blog.Dec 06, 2022

Years of collective action materialised around World Water Week 2022

At World Water Week this year, The Women in Water Diplomacy Network both convened its first ever Global Network Forum and launched its new Global Strategy on Women, Water, Peace and Security.

Florien van Weerelt, Thematic Advisor, LM International
Zodwa Dlamini, member of the Women In Water Diplomacy Network in the Nile
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Dr Zodwa Dlamini, Women in Water Diplomacy Network Leadership Council

At World Water Week this year, The Women in Water Diplomacy Network both convened its first ever Global Network Forum and launched its new Global Strategy on Women, Water, Peace and Security.

Before delving further into these extraordinary events, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)’s Shared Waters Partnership Programme, the Government of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the US State Department, the Government of the Netherlands, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Bank (CIWA), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC), IHE Delft, UNDP (Cap-Net) and LM International and all our many partners in achieving these collective impacts! None of this would have been possible without you!

The first ever Global Network Forum

The 2022 Global Network Forum brought together more than 70 participants from across the world to catalyse collective action to address persistent barriers to gender equality in water diplomacy. Participants joined both on-site in Stockholm and online via Zoom – often despite significant time differences.

The dynamic two-day Forum included interactive workshops, panel discussions and informal networking sessions. In addition to providing the first opportunity for current Network members from the Nile and Central Asia & Afghanistan to meet in person, the Forum provided a platform for other water women – and men – to learn more about the Network.

Bringing together participants at all stages of their careers, the Global Forum not only facilitated knowledge and experience sharing, but it provided key mentorship opportunities. For example, the “pragmatic dreamers” panel session facilitated by Ambassador Nadia Gofoun, and featuring Theresa Khakasa Wasike, Meerim Deidakmatova, Dr Tahani Sileet and Karabo Mokgonyana, provided insight into common barriers that women in water diplomacy face and how to overcome them.

Another highlight included seeing the Network’s vision and mission brought to life through the beautiful illustrations of Radhika Gupta and, by the end of the Forum, a true sense of community filled the room. Commemorating, and further strengthening the positive collective engagement, Forum participants received a ‘Rising Tide’ symbol to wear and elevate Network objectives at the World Water Week and following water dialogues, negotiations, events in their personal and professional capacities.

A new Global Strategy on Women, Water, Peace and Security

Building on the success of the Global Network Forum, the Network launched its first ever Global Strategy – ‘A Path Forward for Women, Water, Peace and Security’– on August 30 at World Water Week.

The strategy is rooted in five pillars:

  1. gender and youth empowerment;
  2. peer-to-peer learning;
  3. research cooperation;
  4. linkages to basin, regional and global processes;
  5. process support

It constitutes a roadmap for the advancement of the Network’s mission and objectives and paves the way for meaningful change at a time when urgent political and environmental change is needed.

Speaking at the Strategy launch event, and representing the Central Asia & Afghanistan Network, Tais Reznikova said “[Central Asia] is a region which is about 6000 kilometres away from the Nile Basin, but this document – the Strategy – resonates so deeply to the problems that we have in our region.” This sentiment was mirrored in the panel discussion on “the meaning of us” facilitated by Sogol Jafarzadeh and featuring Dr Tahani Sileet, Cholpon Aitakhunova and Theresa Khakasa Wasike.

In two special announcements, representatives of both the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) and the International Joint Commission (IJC) announced that they will be joining the Women in Water Diplomacy Network! Representing ORASECOM, Commissioner Bogadi Mathangwane said, “this is indeed a platform that offers equality and diversity in issues of water diplomacy.” Likewise, Commissioner Merrell-Ann Phare (IJC) reflected that “one of the things that is most valuable about this Network is its role in helping us challenge assumptions about the way things are, about the way we make decisions, and about the way things need to be.”

Towards the end of the session, the 2022 Joint Statement was read out loud by Network members and supporters, including Dr Zodwa Dlamini, Tumaini Mwamyalla, Merrell-Ann Phare, Farangis Ukumatshoeva, Julienne Ndjiki, Bogadi Mathangwane, Ambassador Nadia Gofoun and Evans Kaseke. This included a call to action to take “urgent and coordinated action to remove gendered barriers to equal participation and influence in water, peace, and security dialogues.

The launch was concluded by Jessica Troell, who powerfully stated that that “this truly a network of sisters and brothers who embrace and celebrate our diversity while always finding what connects as people and as professionals – and this is the real foundation for effective water diplomacy.”