The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) has accelerated its commitment to Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) by undertaking a policy review and incorporating better disability inclusion to address recommendations from the review. AWP also hosted a training session and workshop for Partners which included capacity development in disability inclusion.
The AWP GESI Policy was developed in 2017, recognising that it is necessary to address gender equality and social inclusion throughout AWP’s work to improve water governance, policies, strategies and service delivery. In October 2019, AWP’s GESI Policy and progress was reviewed identifying successes and gaps and resulting in a clear plan for ongoing investment of resources from now until 2021.
Following interviews with AWP stakeholders and Australian Partners as well as an analysis of documentation, the review found that AWP has been successful in integrating GESI into the systems, processes and people of the organisation.
With a strong understanding of the principles of GESI and clear, effective internal processes in place, an upcoming focus will be the implementation of GESI support within activity implementation. This will see AWP provide Partners with the tools needed to collect and analyse data and undertake effective and meaningful monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Another priority will be the more focused and intentional consideration of disability inclusion, with specialist support acquired to realise these commitments.
As a first step in implementing the recommendations from the review, a Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) training session was held prior to the AWP Partners Workshop in Sydney (5–6 February). The session was facilitated by Melita Grant from the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF-UTS) and Jen Blyth from CBM Australia with the aid of Auslan interpreters.
Participants applied their knowledge to real life scenarios and generated suggested steps to take to improve GEDSI outcomes. These steps will now be incorporated into checklists and advice for Partners to utilise in activity implementation.
Additionally, for the first time during the main program of the AWP Partners Workshop, a session on ‘Partnering for GEDSI outcomes: practical insights’ was held. The panel featured Professor Juliet Willetts from ISF-UTS; Jen Blyth from CBM; Robbie Goedecke from the Australian Water Association; and Veitania Lepani representing the AWP.
Participants had the opportunity to ask the panel questions such as why the poverty-disability cycle is so important in water programs, how to integrate GEDSI into technical and financial processes, and how to measure its effectiveness.
Ms Blyth referred to the expression, “Nothing about us without us”, which describes the principle that in order to effectively design and implement projects for gender equality, disability and social inclusion, it must include direct participation of people from marginalised groups from the outset.
Ms Willetts also noted, “Gender equality is not just about communities and those left behind, it’s about all of society.”
AWP’s commitment to GEDSI aligns with Australia’s Aid Policy, where gender equality and disability-inclusive development is a priority for all aid investments, regardless of the specific focus and objective of the investment.