08 Mar 2022

Advancing towards gender mainstreaming in water resources management

Celebrating International Women's Day

The theme for this year's International Women's Day is 'Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow'. Women and girls all over the world are leaders on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response and contributing to the planet's sustainable future. However, advancing gender equality in the areas of the water resources management, climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is still one of the greatest global challenges today.

Earlier, the Global Water Partnership and UNEP-DHI Centre on Water and Environment published a report, 'Advancing towards gender mainstreaming in water resources management'. The report identifies seven enablers for gender mainstreaming and recommendations for countries that are at different stages in the process.

Indeed, gender mainstreaming in water resources management (WRM) is not new, but implementation is slow. Why is that and how can countries accelerate progress?

There is growing awareness of the urgency to include all parts of the community in WRM: inclusion reduces inequalities in access and improves the sustainability of water systems. Gender and inclusion policies in WRM have been developed around the world, yet there is still a gap between policy and practice. Policies are not always accompanied by concrete action plans, nor are they adequately funded. As a result, implementation may be insufficient, and monitoring and evaluation may not be sophisticated enough to reveal the true gender and inclusion dynamics within a given WRM context.

Key enablers

Many countries have taken significant steps towards advancing gender mainstreaming in WRM. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but there are seven key enablers:

  1. There is strong commitment to gender mainstreaming among the executive leadership at the national level
  2. Egalitarian legal frameworks and gender are explicitly integrated into water laws, policies and strategies
  3. Earmarked funding is allocated to gender mainstreaming in WRM
  4. Supportive frameworks are established for the effective participation and parity of women in the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects
  5. Centralised monitoring systems are overseen by a national body
  6. Investments are made in education, awareness raising, and capacity development
  7. Multi-stakeholder and intersectoral coordination mechanisms and bodies are in place
  Learn more about gender mainstreaming in WRM and what countries can do to take action.