"SDG6 needs capacity of women and girls"
Water Action Decade 2018 - 2028
Clean, accessible water is critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and it is indispensable for human development, health and well-being.
There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But water-related challenges, including limited access to safe water and sanitation, increasing pressure on water resources and ecosystems, and an exacerbated risk of droughts and floods, remain high on the global agenda.
Recent milestone agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Paris Agreement, have placed water at their heart. Guaranteeing sustainable water management is a vital element to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and other relevant goals in the social, environmental and economic fields.
To implement these water-related goals and targets, and building on the achievements of the previous “Water for Life” Decade 2005-2015, the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028 aims to create a solid platform to advance cooperation and partnerships at all levels, and put a greater focus on the integrated management of water resources.
The Decade will contribute to the achievement of these goals by facilitating the sharing of good practices and providing a platform for advocacy, networking and partnership-building.
I am honoured and delighted to speak to you during the launch of a new water decade on this World Water Day 2018. I represent both Soroptimist International and Women for Water Partnership and focus on women as important stakeholder to reach SDG 6 and water related targets.
Women and Water are deeply connected. In many countries it is the women who are responsible for fetching clean drinking water, collecting water to grow vegetables or taking care of wastewater. Because of these responsibilities women have gained a lot of experience and knowledge of water sources, water systems and water quality.
Already in 1992….. and that is more than 25 years ago, the International Conference on Water and Environment agreed on the Dublin Principles. One of them clearly states that women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
The pivotal role of women was acknowledged internationally. But, what is happening in reality?
Unfortunately, in practice the vast experience and intimate knowledge of women in water management has largely been seen as irrelevant or marginal in decisions about “big water” issues, such as large-scale water supply options, catchment management, water quality and waste water treatment. That needs to change.
We, the twenty-seven members of Women for Water Partnership, are drawing attention to the role women play as experts, agents of change and partners in achieving equal access to water and safe sanitation.
And the Decade for Action - I emphasize the word ACTION - can play a big role to ensure that the knowledge of women will be recognized and used… and that men and women participate on equal footing in water programs.
It is also a matter of urgency to make use of this rich resource of experienced women, since we all know that with the present human capacity, SDG6 will not be achieved in 2030. Women and girls can increase capacity at all levels, but, among others, social norms and stereotypes need to be challenged. Social and institutional barriers, stereotyping, lack of female role models and the so-called “engineering culture”, which is traditionally male dominated, prevent women to become influential in the water sector.
Changes are needed to reach the SDG 6 and the Decade for Action can encourage change makers. The Decade can promote best practices and emphasis the full and meaningful participation of girls and women in
decision-making, management and water governance.
This goes hand in hand with the allocation of sufficient means for empowerment and vocational training to enable women to fulfil these roles. Finances should reach women directly, because that is the most effective and efficient way to secure success.
Last but not least, in order to raise awareness and ensure the involvement of women and girls on an equal basis with men and boys, the Water Decade for Action can include an International UN Year Water and Women.
A special year fits well in the Decade and is an opportunity to show that we practice what we all have preached since the Dublin Principles in 1992. A special year to emphasize the positive role of women in the success of water projects, in innovation and more efficient use of scarce resources….., on the road to equal access to water and sanitation for all."