PROJECT: WOMEN IN WATER MANAGEMENT IN CENTRAL ASIA AND AFGHANISTANReport back: Central Asia and Afghanistan 2023
During the last few months, there has been much focus on expanding the Network in the region by engaging women policy makers and water experts, and capacity building in mediation and negotiation.
OSCE engagement in the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan: what is next?
By Saule Ospanova, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
2022 was an incredible year for the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The Network participants came together in person, for the first time, during the Dushanbe Water Conference in June 2022, directly contributing to the Final Declaration, ‘From Dushanbe 2022 to New York 2023’, where women’s voices were strongly reflected. At World Water Week, the Women in Water Diplomacy Global Network Forum convened its first ever Global Network Forum and launched the Global Strategy on Women, Water, Peace and Security. The Network was further featured in the 2023 UN Water Conference in March, the first of its kind in nearly 50 years. During the Conference members of the Network participated in a number of panels and sessions, including the official UN Side-Event “Elevating Critical Voices in Water Diplomacy,” convened by the Women in Water Diplomacy Network and partners.
The Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) will continue to do its part, providing ongoing support to the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan through the implementation of the newly launched project “Women, Water Management and Conflict Prevention – Phase III” (2023-2025). The new project is designed to strengthen support to mediation and participatory dialogue on transboundary water management and regional water co-operation and further development of the established Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The project focuses on issues at the heart of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, supporting women’s leadership in dialogue and peace mediation processes in the field of water management.
About the Network
The Women in Water Diplomacy and Water Management promotes promotes women water professionals’ participation in decision-making in the water sector and gender mainstreaming in water governance, in the Nile region and Central Asia and Afghanistan.The Women in Water Diplomacy network in the NileWomen in Water Management in Central Asia and AfghanistanA Path Forward for Women, Water, Peace, and Security
What does this entail for the Network? During the new project phase, the OSCE, in close co-operation with SIWI, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and other partners will be further expanding the Network, engaging women decision and policy makers, as well as water experts, focusing further on capacity building in mediation and negotiation. The Network activities in the coming year will range from in-person and online water diplomacy training workshops, to mentoring sessions with senior experts and negotiators, as well as representation in the relevant key international events. All project activities will build on existing co-operation with other international and regional organizations. They will be implemented in close co-ordination with the OSCE Field Operations and other international partners, such as the UNESCO’s International Centre for Water Cooperation hosted by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Central Asia Youth for Water Network (CAY4W), IUCN, Geneva Water Hub, as well as the River Basin Commissions in the OSCE area.
The OSCE team will gladly continue the engagement and advancement of the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan and associated activities together with our partners. We welcome further interest and support in this area.
You can find more information and material on the OSCE work on water management visiting the following links:
- Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) | OSCE
- Enhancing co-operation over sustainable transboundary water resources
- Project page of “Women, Water Management and Conflict Prevention – Phase III”
- OSCE manual Gender Mainstreaming in Water Governance in Central Asia | OSCE
The convening power of women in water diplomacy
By Sogol Jafarzadeh, Women in Water Diplomacy Network Member
It has been a pleasure to be part of the growing network of the Women in Water Diplomacy over the last two years. It was only this time last year that we started discussing the real possibility of organizing the first Global Network Forum. Bringing the Nile Network and the Central Asia and Afghanistan networks together, already seemed like a dream. Coming out of a global pandemic and travel slowly resuming there were still so many uncertainties. Would there be enough funds? Would we be able to secure visas for all the participants? Could there be interest beyond the established networks? What came next was beyond our imagination. Not only was the funding secured, thanks to the strong partnerships around the network, but also most of the visas were secured, unfortunately excluding our members from Afghanistan. And speaking about interest beyond our network… we received so many requests for participation that we had to limit the number of participants due to space constraints.
Now less than one year after the first Global Network Forum, I find myself part of a vibrant, strong and inspiring network with members from more than 30 countries. The Network has contributed to the growth of my career and knowledge base as well. I have started following the work of many members beyond the topics and regions I was familiar with before and through this I have learned a lot about new initiatives and challenges faced by women professionals around the world. It was inspiring to see the considerable presence and inputs made by the members of the network at the 2023 UN Water Conference in New York. You could see the pin that represents our network in so many pictures coming out of this milestone event.
Women are essential to the sustainable water management at any level anywhere in the world, and we are stronger together. For now, I wear my special pin proudly to any water meeting and I am delighted whenever I meet a fellow member. There is so much to be done and it will only be possible through hard work and cooperation. The Women in Water Diplomacy Network is one of the most unique groups that convenes many partners and promotes cooperation beyond the water sector. I look forward to many more successful meetings in the coming year.
Shared Learning: Central Asia and Afghanistan Network online engagements on 2nd and 9th December 2022 and 24th February 2023
By Katie Goldie-Ryder, Programme Officer, SIWI; Tais Reznikova, Program Manager, CAREC and Letizia Zuliani, Project Assistant, OSCE, all Members of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network’s Process Support Team
The Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan Mentoring and Career Development programme continued with three focused workshops building up the Network member’s thematic and practical knowledge on Water Diplomacy and Conflict Prevention, project design and academic writing.
On 2 December 2023, the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan met virtually for a session on ‘Practical Aspects of Water Diplomacy.’ Bota Sharipova, PhD Candidate at IHE Delft, Institute for Water Education gave a presentation on “Introduction to Water Diplomacy from an international perspective: case studies on Central Asia.”
After introducing the concept and defining water diplomacy as a comprehensive multi factor process, she spoke about water diplomacy processes in Central Asia. She discussed the level of understanding of formal and informal water diplomacy practices in the region and drew parallels from the Western Balkans. She also described how gender roles and stereotypes influence water diplomacy. After the presentation, the Network members met in small groups to discuss how water diplomacy can promote cooperation and sustainable development in the region as well as the entry points in water diplomacy that have worked in other basins and could be relevant to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Network members reflected on the importance of learning more about the differences between the concept of water diplomacy and transboundary cooperation, which are often used as similar notions. The discussion touched on water diplomacy ‘tracks’ and what role each of the participants currently plays in water diplomacy in Central Asia.
The second part of the session was dedicated to an interactive exchange with Dr. Andre Wehrli, Regional Water Adviser for Swiss Development Cooperation. He introduced the Network to the different regional Blue Peace Initiatives, highlighting the different levels of cooperation through a comparative analysis between the Middle East and Central Asia. The main takeaway was that often solutions can come from outside the water sector itself.
Continuing the shared learning, the Network met on 9 December 2023 to explore Project Design, focusing on developing a project idea and proposal writing. The workshop aimed to improve the participants’ skills to conceptualize project ideas and prepare project proposals. The workshop included presentations from SIWI, OSCE, and CAREC expert team members focused on theory of change and developing a logical framework. The participants took part in an interactive exercise, using the LogFrame for the draft project proposal “Women Water Management and Conflict Prevention Phase III,” developed by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. The Network members discussed how best to identify project impacts from the presented case study. Participants were especially interested in digging deeper into the steps from idea formulation to reaching expected results. Additionally, the workshop provided an opportunity for stakeholder consultation on the intended impacts of the project which allowed the process team to co-design the project strategy with the main beneficiaries.
Most recently, the Mentoring and Career development session focused on ‘Academic Writing and Women Participation in Peace Mediation,’ in a virtual session held on 24 February 2023. Zhanar Naurozbayeva, Candidate of Geography Sciences, Leading Researcher at the Research Center of RSE “Kazhydromet,” Senior Lecturer at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and member of the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan, lead the training workshop on scientific writing. Zhanar shared a useful tool – the checklist for scientific publication. She also presented in detail all the stages of the publication process with some hints on the requirements of different scientific journals. A special interest from Network members was raised in the structure of the scientific article.
In the second part of the workshop and marking the one-year anniversary since the start of the war against Ukraine, the Network members reflected on the importance of women’s meaningful participation in peace mediation. Women have a vital role to play in the conflict mediation and post conflict phase. Saule Ospanova, Senior Environmental Affairs Adviser, OSCE, shared the relevant work with the participants, including reflections on the project ‘Assessment of Environmental Impact of the War against Ukraine and options for remediation’ and associated synergies for the Network engagement.
The Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan will continue with experience exchange and capacity development workshops in the second half of 2023.