The Women Water Leadership Network (WWLN) is an action network, an initiative of the River and Delta Research Centre (RDRC). This network contains over 100 plus members who are working in the lower reach of GBM basin areas, especially in the Bengal delta region. Members of WWLN are involved with CBOs, CSOs as well as in associations from riverine and coastal areas.
Over the years, research and policy analysis has confirmed that gender equity is indispensable for sustainable water management, especially in the context of climate change, migration, and urbanization. Sustainable management of riverine and coastal environments requires the meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes. Numerous international, national, and local efforts and interventions are, therefore, guided by the aspiration to ensure gender equity and rights in the context of water access and water resources management. Understanding the key dynamics of women-water nexus, such as how women play specific roles in the wise use of water resources and in turn how their management role can advance their collective empowerment, RDRC’s WWLN aims to further an informed, networked, place-specific, action-oriented approach to sustainable water development throughout its member regions.
WWLN’s primary goal is to promote women’s leadership in the decision-making processes related to water resources management, particularly through recognizing and elevating the diverse water-related practices of women to sustain their communities. WWLB will help ensure that women’s voices are heard and that their specific problems and needs in relation to water and climate are addressed. Related to ensuring women’s participation in decision-making at all levels over freshwater resources and coastal regions, this network is committed to protecting interconnected ecosystems of rivers, wetlands, and the lands, forests and territories they sustain and to strengthening alliances and negotiations for the future of our planet. The network will strive to bridge researchers, practitioners, activists, and policymakers across water management and gender fields.
The network will work with diverse communities of women across urban and rural areas and with gender-diverse communities. The network is open to all individuals and organizations involved in climate, environment and water resources management, government institutions, agencies of development partners such as the United Nations, professional associations, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
WWLN’s action network provides knowledge and builds capacity to improve water management at all levels: global, regional, national, transboundary, and local. We are an ‘on-the-ground’ network that mobilizes government, civil society, community-based organizations, volunteers, and the private sectors to engage with each other to solve water problems.
The objectives of this network are as follows:
- Advocate for women’s leadership in decision-making at all levels over water environments and resources.
- Ensure a good representation of women in the preparatory process and the organization of the network.
- Develop initiatives for better involvement of women in the governance of water, climate, and migration related issues.
- Highlight women’s concerns in multi-stakeholder exchanges.
- Mobilize women’s organizations for their active involvement in the organization of this network.
- Define the strategic orientations for the mobilization of women and the axes of collaboration and partnership with all the participating entities.
- Develop initiatives to build capacity and improve the living conditions of communities with adequate access to water and sanitation.
Roadmap for Action
Generate Knowledge and Influence
The importance of gender for sustainable water management in the academic and local knowledge documentation is largely decentralized, under-communicated, and under-utilized. Most importantly, this critical knowledge is not having the significant impact on water governance that it should. The result is that women’s knowledge and interests remain marginalized. In these circumstances, communicating and mainstreaming women’s role in knowledge documentation and political processes can be optimized through knowledge generation and dialogue.
We need to work with and influence the donor community to scale-up funding through evidence-based storytelling and documentation of the urgency, need, and value of investing in urban, peri-urban, and rural women who are water stewards. Increased funding should employ innovative, place-specific, flexible funding approaches that genuinely respond to the needs of women at the forefront of change.
Strengthen the Network
We must build grassroots alliances with communities and women leaders at the forefront of change with integrated networks of support from NGOs, researchers, and funders. Existing capacities and knowledge need to be bolstered and fortified. Interconnected risks or threats to the safety, security, health, and wellbeing of women and riverine or coastal ecosystems must be identified alongside mechanisms and allies at the local, national, and international levels to provide redress and support. WWLN will advocate for women leaders to take the lead in proposing and developing legal and policy frameworks.
Frame the Narrative
We need to proactively develop and amplify framing and stories about the contributions of women, gender-diverse communities, and water leaders, as well as the threats they face, using traditional, social, and multimedia channels. Women and gender-diverse communities on the frontlines should be prominent spokespeople in this growing movement and should be supported with training and opportunities to speak forcefully and publicly about their experience and knowledge about water resources and the environment.