PROJECT: UNDP-SIWI WATER GOVERNANCE FACILITYGender and women’s leadership in water supply and sanitation
Gender was a cross-cutting theme for the eleven Joint Programmes, pointing to the practical importance of reliable and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for the well-being of women and girls in their everyday life. Strategically, the programmes supported women's leadership and influence in decision- making.
Strengthening women’s influence
Facilitation of spaces for women to discuss common needs has been essential for the successful practices of the programmes. However, solely promoting increased representation of women without linking it to the fostering of cohesion is not inherently empowering. The involvement needs to be active, have tangible outcomes and vouch for women’s joint interests.
- To overcome historical male bias and engineering dominance in the water sector active commitment from top management and gender expertise in programme design and implementation is vital.
- To increase the easily measurable number of women in water related decision- making, while overlooking the quality of their participation, risks hiding underlying power inequalities.
- Gender strategies need to involve men and to take into consideration how they may react to changes in gender roles – or progress towards gender equity may be hampered and unintended conflicts generated.