Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) recognises that the integration of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in its activities will lead to more equitable and sustainable outcomes. In recognition of the importance of GESI, AWP developed a GESI Policy in December 2017.

In line with the Policy, AWP strives to support Partners in their capacity to consider and include GESI in their work. First steps towards providing this support included a short training course prior to the 2019 Partners Workshop held in Brisbane (5 February).

Following this training, AWP has released a Guidance for Partners that explains how to address GESI in AWP concepts, proposals and tenders. GESI is one of ten criteria against which these are assessed, and it is also an essential criterion.

Webinar: Strengthening understanding of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

A webinar was hosted for AWP Partners on 24 May 2019 to support the release of the Guidance for Partners.

In the webinar, AWP CEO Prof Nick Schofield explained the strategic commitments made by AWP to address GESI; one of AWP’s Expert Review Panel GESI specialists/reviewers, Melita Grant, shared insights on this process; and AWP’s GESI Specialist and lead author of the GESI Policy and Guidance for Partners, Julie Webb, discussed practical steps on how to ensure AWP Partner work is GESI sensitive. The slides for this webinar are available under ‘Resources’.

Q&A (from 35:50)

  • We are planning to develop more detailed guidelines for Phase 2 and undertaking a review about how are we going so far, what are some of our success stories and also learn from our Partners in terms of how they experienced support.
  • We are planning to undertake a portfolio review of AWP’s activities through a GESI lens.
  • We are also planning to build a stronger online presence for our Gender work and planning to do some Partner training.
  • Yes, we work with the Water for Women program to identify mutual opportunities and projects where we can work together.
  • We also work broadly with the WASH Reference Group and are looking to develop a more substantial effort around bridging between water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
  • It is important to do gender analysis to understand what the other groups are out there. The core of gender analysis is to identify the diversity of marginalised and minority groups.
  • When we are talking about GESI, we are talking about life experiences that different people have and we are keen to encourage and engage with that diversity, so we are not talking about targeting women in isolation.
  • Understanding the power dynamics operating in the context is important. If there are minority ethnic groups in the area where you/your organisation is operating, then it should come out in your GESI analysis.
  • Think about how you can be more inclusive, so if it is around capacity development training for example, then assess how the training is set up and ask: is the setting or time not accessible to certain people, and who are those people?
  • It would take some time to talk/call/investigate/do some research to find experts if you are operating in a new context.
  • AWP’s Julie Webb, Melita Grant and Suzette Mitchell have a lot of contacts in the countries where AWP have engaged and they are ready to help find the right people.
  • Yes, we do GESI experts beyond Melita and Suzette that AWP is working with, and we are hoping to build a more active and diverse network in the future.
  • There are GESI experts within other partner organisations and it’s a great way to share expertise and resources in a more collaborative way.
  • We encourage Partners to reach out to GESI experts in their own organisations but also to reach out to AWP.
  • There are people and organisations that are tapped into and supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people. For example, in the WASH sector which has decades of experience in this space, there’s a lot of work to support disabled people’s organisations, and the analysis informed by groups that represent people minorities is one of the best ways to start that conversation. Ask the question from the outset with people you know within your organisation or within the Australian sector such as the NGO and academic network – there’s a lot of knowledge and resources that can be drawn on.
  • Our Young Water Professional Programs – one in Myanmar and the other across the Pacific. In the Myanmar Program, more than 50 per cent of professionals in the program are women. The Myanmar Government (NWRC) has highlighted that as their flagship program, so it has influence beyond just the GESI aspects, it impacts across multiple ministries.
  • Another example is the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association utilities. Young professionals from 20 countries across the Pacific are brought together every year and again gender balance is about 50/50. The highlight is that the young generations are brought up with understanding the concept of GESI.
  • The other good example is our work with the Australian Water Association’s Channeling Change Program.
  • Also the Water Utility Improvement Program – we’ve completed our first program in Vietnam where five water utilities in Vietnam were matched with five water utilities in Australia and we saw improvement in gender balance in the second stage of the project.
  • Gender is not about men and women but about the full spectrum of identity.
  • There are people in our society who are in the sexual gender minority and those people are broadly overlooked and marginalised by society, for example, we are doing some work in this space in Indonesia and the way to do so is be careful and be informed by experts both in Australia and Indonesia.
  • The risks of exposing people are high therefore it needs to be well managed and well informed. There is an organisation in Australia called Edge Effect and they are experts in this space. If you want to have a further conversation about engaging people from sexual gender minorities then feel free to give them a call.
  • If you are organising an event and plan it at a time that’s not easy for different groups or individuals to attend, then your event plan reinforces the exclusion of certain groups in a particular decision-making process. The “do-no-harm” principle should be applied here.
  • The question is to ask how to make sure we are consistent as possible in understanding people that we are working with and making sure we are not making their life harder or reinforcing the inequalities that shape their abilities to participate and influence activities.
  • The key is undertaking a gender analysis at the start (planning stage), and understand the context and using local voices and local sources which is very critical to the success of your activity.
  • We are working on a couple of new products. One of them presents the Australian water story through a community perspective (community voices) often neglected as seen in technical or political processes whereas communities were very proactive in creating outcomes, e.g. Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
  • Another example of a Knowledge Product is the inclusion of Cultural Water into water management and thinking alongside environmental water.
  • We are also implementing GESI thinking into an environmental flows management framework that is being developed for Myanmar so that it’s much more inclusive of impacts of flows not just for the environment, but also for people and communities; for women and children.
  • You are welcome to contact the AWP team and GESI experts within AWP.
  • The key is to keep in touch with the AWP team as you are putting together your proposal to seek out materials and resources that are available so that you have the strongest submission possible and that you can implement activities and have the best outcomes in terms of GESI.
  • Conduct a quality assessment of who will be impacted by a particular project/initiative, and how can they be involved in designing it? If it is irrigation infrastructure for example, this means finding female farmers as well as male farmers, seeking the advice of women in NGOs and academia who are experts in gender-sensitive irrigation infrastructure and seeking their advice and renumerating them for this advice.
  • Involve women and men in prototyping and piloting to see if there are any differences in the way that infrastructure is used, when it is used, and if it meets everyone’s needs or if there are unintended consequences. Does the infrastructure respond to safety issues/needs (often different for men and women), does it respond to other roles and responsibilities that women and men carry out, and the time of day that they use infrastructure? The following article illuminates some of these issues and differences and highlights some of the ideas that we need to keep in mind while designing, testing, and building infrastructure so that it is inclusive and doesn’t perpetuate inequalities:

Related Documents

GESI Policy Cover