Water&Gender: a WWAP Working Group

Hosted and led by UNESCO, the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) is a United Nations system-wide effort to advance global understanding of processes,  management practices and policies that can help improve the supply and quality of freshwater resources.
The principal objectives of the Programme are to assess and report on the state, use and management of the world’s freshwater resources and the demands on them, to define critical problems, and to assess the ability of nations to cope with water-related stress and conflict. Its primary product, the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) , was produced every three years and launched in conjunction with the World Water Forum. Starting from 2014 the WWDR will become an annual publication, with a different theme every year.

WWAP has been a leader in mainstreaming gender into all of its projects and publications such as the 2012 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR)  “Managing Water Under Uncertainties and Risks”, the 2014 annual report (WWDR2014) “Water and Energy”  and all side publications.

WWAP now breaks new ground with this gender sensitive methodology for water indicators, and an international Working Group is assisting WWAP in PHASE I of the project on gender sensitive water monitoring, assessment and reporting. The Working Group is counting on the commitment of around 30 experts from all over the world and it has been active since early 2014. Its initial work was informed by a background report, commissioned by WWAP, on the current state of the art of gender-disaggregated water indicators.

To date, the Working Group has been focusing its attention on the selection of a small number of priority indicators that WWAP will develop and test with its partners. Around half of the members of the Working Group came together for an inception meeting  in early June, at the headquarters of the WWAP Secretariat (Villa Colombella, Perugia – Italy), to move this agenda forward.

The first day of the inception meeting was devoted to an assessment of an almost 100-indicator long “wish list” of gender-disaggregated water data. The task for the Working Group was to set priority areas within this larger universe of data demand .

The debate on the priority areas was very lively and included discussions on:

  • the role of women in transboundary water diplomacy and dispute mitigation,
  • the importance of measuring the  unaccounted-for water-related labor,
  • the importance of accounting for women’s participation in water associations and decision making
  • the multi-dimensionality of the self and the fact that the same person is affected in the way he/she access water depending on : gender, race, ethnicicy, casts, economical class, and many other divides that are rarely grasped by indicators and statistics.
  • the importance of assessing water-related decision making at intra-household and supra-household (public) levels
  • the importance of deliverying a set of indicators readily available for the use of countries, organizations  and development professionals
  • the importance of access to infrastructure and technologies, such as water-saving technologies and irrigation;
  • the importance of access to water-related training and  to financial and extension services
Day 1 (Photo courtesy of WWAP, 2014)

Day 1 – The discussion starts… (Photo courtesy of WWAP, 2014)

On the second day the Working Group identified 5 thematic  “clusters” of indicators from which the final selection would be made:

  • Economics of water & Governance
  • Power & Institutions
  • Resources & Services
  • Paradigms & Knowledge:
  • Water security

Day 2 – Walls and tables full of ideas… (Photo courtesy of WWAP, 2014)


Group picture (Photo courtesy of WWAP, 2014)

Group picture (Photo courtesy of WWAP, 2014)

 The WWAP Secretariat will take the advice of this Working Group meeting, and subsequent consultations, and will determine the final list of priority indicators by late July 2014. The next step of this phase of the project will be to determine the final list of priority indicators, which will be presented during  the incoming international events ( World Water Week 2014, Gender , Water and Development Conference 2014).

Watch out the interviews to the Working Group members

and the pictures of the inception meeting.


Souce UNESCO WWAP, 2014


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