International Women’s Day (8 March) and World Water Day (22 March) provided an important opportunity to promote Australia’s development support for women and water, and their invaluable contribution to climate-resilient communities.
Women, water and climate change 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. Cohesive and fair communities are naturally more resilient, including to shocks from a changing climate or disease outbreaks.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) supports water for development through several projects in the Indo-Pacific region under two key programs—the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) and Water for Women. Both programs have also played an active role in Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery policy to support the region’s preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19.
Water is key to health, hygiene & productivity, which is why DFAT supports water, sanitation & hygiene initiatives like @_waterforwomen & @WaterPartnersAU. On #WorldWaterDay, learn more about ??’s support for our region’s water security ⬇️https://t.co/YTMmsxW8In pic.twitter.com/6t9LTeb5YL
— DFAT?? (@dfat) March 22, 2021
The AWP marked these days by collaborating with DFAT and Water for Women through an online campaign to highlight gender and socially inclusive water resource management and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). DFAT, together with these flagship initiatives, reflected on the value of water and the value of women—both water and women are critical to building healthy and climate-resilient communities on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The stories were shared through partners’ websites and social media channels, including by Australian Ambassadors in countries where they operate.
Gender equality is central to DFAT’s foreign policy, trade & development objectives. On #InternationalWomensDay, hear from @AusAmbGender about ??’s commitment to empowering women and girls and supporting women leaders in our region & around the world ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/lhrxnCSkUf
— DFAT?? (@dfat) March 7, 2021
UN International Women’s Day on 8 March centered around women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis as health care workers, caregivers, policymakers, activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and community organisers. The global pandemic has highlighted the disproportionate burdens that women carry and the importance of women’s contributions to decision making.
For example, women like Sulochana Devi are highlighting the value of women as leaders and the value of water in Australia’s development programs—challenging gender stereotypes within more traditional social systems. Sulochana is considered a champion of conservation agriculture in her community, leading a women’s farmers group in rural Bihar, North India, where farming is the major source of income for families.
Through the Australian Government @dfat funded @aciarsdip, @ACIARAustralia is working with partners to increase gender equity and empower women like Sulochana who has championed conservation agriculture in her community https://t.co/S9MaCAgMOK#IWD2021 #WomenLead pic.twitter.com/wi4v0rEgBR
— AWP (@WaterPartnersAU) March 10, 2021
Likewise, Yarra Valley Water is challenging perceptions of gender roles in the water utility sector. They are partnered with an Indonesian water utility through AWP’s Australia-Indonesia Water Utility Improvement Program which aims to foster knowledge exchange and build capacity in water and wastewater delivery, while committing to a more gender inclusive workplace.
Throughout this week we are reflecting on women as changemakers, innovators and leaders. See how @YVWater is #ChoosingToChallenge the perceptions of gender roles in the water utility sector https://t.co/ixueKTcIHb#IWD2021 #WomenLead
Photo: Julie Mouka / YVW pic.twitter.com/IrSlzsCJmA
— AWP (@WaterPartnersAU) March 9, 2021
UN World Water Day on 22 March revolved around valuing water— how we value water determines how we manage and share this precious resource. AWP and partners reflected on the various uses of water and the values attached to them in the context of today’s external pressures, such as climate change, water scarcity, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
AWP partners are addressing urban flooding in the Mekong by valuing the benefits of Nature-based Solutions in Thailand and Vietnam. The program is providing policymakers and practitioners with an alternative approach for effective and sustainable water management to mitigate water-related natural disasters while providing human wellbeing and biodiversity benefits.
This #WWD2021 we recognise that sustainable water use is critical to building healthy & climate-resilient communities. Through @WaterPartnersAU, ?? is supporting @crcwsc & @ICEM_Enviro to address urban flood mgmt in the Mekong. #SDG6 pic.twitter.com/kUCuP1AiVF
— Allan McKinnon (@AusAmbBKK) March 22, 2021
AWP partners also demonstrated how they are responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic through digital knowledge sharing, by transporting water utility practitioners from Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos to water treatment plants in Australia via virtual reality technology.
Great to be supporting @dfat #Parternerships strategy in responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Today on #WorldWaterDay2021 with @Melbournewater we hosted representatives from Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos to explore Western Treatment Plant. @waterpartnersAU pic.twitter.com/Z9r6wRh64S
— AWA (@AustralianWater) March 22, 2021
Australia’s support of ‘water for development’ and actions taken to safeguard the resource for sustainable use as well as actions to improve water as the first line of health protection in the Indo-Pacific region draw on Australian expertise applied to local contexts. By exploring activities where Australia has provided support to protect water resources and deliver clean WASH, we may realise a comprehensive understanding of water’s true, multidimensional value.
Access to clean water and sanitation underpins sustainable development and gender equality in the Indo-Pacific. I was pleased to highlight Australia’s partnerships in our region in the UN High-Level Meeting on Water this week. @AustraliaUN @AusAmbEnviro @UN_Pasifika pic.twitter.com/rwYRxRXBaR
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) March 19, 2021
View all the stories shared by DFAT, AWP and Water for Women during International Women’s Day and World Water Day below.
- World Water Day and the value of water
- Valuing water through nature-based solutions in the Mekong Region
- How women like Sulochana are playing a greater role in sustainable farming
- How Yarra Valley Water is challenging perceptions of gender roles in the water utility sector
- How women like Janaki are improving water use for dry season agriculture
- Strengthening gender equality and social inclusion through WASH in Bangladesh
- Working collaboratively to improve WASH systems in Bhutan’s health care facilities
- Soutieng is empowering women through water access with her business in Cambodia
- Mere from Malevu: rising to the challenge to protect her community against COVID-19
- After 40 long years, Valmiki Colony is working together to improve water supply for its community
- Nature-based solutions are transforming communities in Indonesia
- Flushed with success: building capacity of women sanitation entrepreneurs in Lao PDR
- System Strengthening: resetting local WASH governance in rural Nepal
- A gender perspective to understand & enhance the functionality of water supply systems in Nepal
- Empowering rural women entrepreneurs and supporting women leaders in Bhutan, Lao PDR, & Nepal
- Small steps create big change for Wazir and his family in Pakistan
- Cecilia is promoting resilient WASH in the islands region of Papua New Guinea
- Belinda is a survivor, a toilet-maker and a changemaker!
- It takes a village: how the Aruligo school community rallied to improve their water supply
- A strong partnership to boost access to WASH services by balancing gender roles in Timor-Leste
- Challenging gender roles in Timor-Leste, Rosa is the Chief of the Lualisa Water User Group
- Water and Sanitation for all – understanding perspectives for inclusive WASH in Vanuatu
- New guidebook shows Vietnamese communities the way to safer and climate-resilient water supplies