Outcomes from International Women’s Day and World Water Day 2020

The theme for this year’s UN World Water Day (22 March) was about water and climate change, and how the two are inextricably linked. Clean, safe and accessible water for everyone in the community plays a critical role in addressing poverty and contributing to economic and human development. Sustainable and efficient use of water is critical to climate change resilience and adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health and save lives.

Australia is supporting ‘water for development’ through several key programs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This year’s World Water Day (WWD) highlighted the importance of gendered and socially inclusive approaches to Water Resource Management (WRM) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to achieve more effective and sustainable outcomes in development in a changing climate.

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) celebrated this day by collaborating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Water for Women Fund (WfW) to highlight water-related WRM and WASH work and success stories through Australian aid support across the Indo-Pacific region. Climate change is also the theme adopted by the UN for Stockholm World Water Week, reflecting the primacy of this issue and its close links to water. The AWP and WfW are both flagship initiatives of DFAT as part of Australia’s aid program.

International Women’s Day (IWD) was also celebrated globally on 8 March under the theme of ‘Each for Equal’. Women have an important role to play in addressing challenges brought about by climate change. Women’s voices must be heard and they can be leaders in this space – an equal world is an enabled world.

For the Australian Government, climate change is an increasingly important area of policy development and programming in the Australian aid program. The work of DFAT provides good examples of how climate adaptation and resilience is achieved through well-designed water and WASH projects.

“World Water Day 2020 was a valuable opportunity for us to demonstrate our close alignment with this evolving area of interest in Australian aid,” says Gerard Cheong, Assistant Director of DFAT’s WASH Section. “DFAT’s water portfolio will continue to increase its focus on climate change. For example, the next Water + WASH Futures Conference in early 2021 is expected to strongly feature the intersection of WASH, water resource management and climate change.”

In tandem with WWD, Water for Women also announced its Innovation and Impact Grants that will see up to AUD$1.2 million awarded to projects and innovations that support climate resilience and gender and socially inclusive aspects of WASH projects in Asian and Pacific communities. Eligible regions for the grants include South Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific and detailed guidance on the grants will be released in May 2020.

“Women and marginalised people are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, and they are therefore in strong positions to contribute to sustainable solutions to these challenges,” says Dr Alison Baker, WfW Fund Manager. “We see a very clear link between empowering women and tackling climate change, and WASH interventions are an important entry point to gender equality.”

AWP is working to leave no one behind in all its activities by actively supporting Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI).

“AWP is very pleased to have collaborated with DFAT and Water for Women to highlight the impact that our respective initiatives and Partners have had on communities and people in the region, in particular making a positive difference to GEDSI with the Australian Government’s support,” says AWP CEO Nick Schofield.

International Women’s Day and World Water Day stories were posted across DFAT, AWP and WfW social media platforms and websites, shown below.

Australia – water partners for development (AWP | Australian Aid | Water for Women)

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