29 August 2018: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has launched a report titled, ‘Women as Change-makers in the Governance of Shared Waters,’ highlighting the role of women in transboundary water governance. IUCN’s review of research into the role of women in water governance finds that the issue has not received much attention, despite women playing an important role in the way water is used, shared and allocated.

The report argues that women’s existing roles in water governance, including at local and sub-basin levels, is little understood, and that women are often excluded from water governance at the transboundary and national levels. Noting that water governance will be a cornerstone of global water security as water becomes more scarce and polluted, the report proposes ways to recognize and expand women’s roles in water governance at all levels by combining implementation of SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).

SDG 6.5 commits to implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM) at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation, as appropriate.

Effective participation of women in water governance offers opportunities to draw on traditional knowledge.

The report presents a literature review and case studies from each continent where women are leading change in the governance of shared waters. It highlights that effective participation of women in water governance offers opportunities to draw on traditional knowledge and small-scale solutions for agriculture, home gardening, and domestic water use, potentially promoting resilience to drought and improving family nutrition.

The authors recommend working with women’s organizations, setting quotas and ensuring that women’s voices are heard and acknowledged in decision-making processes. They call for reforms that will give women equal rights to land and other forms of property, as well as in financial services, inheritance and natural resources including water, seeing this as a basis for women’s participation in natural resource governance.

The report also suggests that further research is needed into the different spheres and levels of water governance at which women do participate.

The publication was launched at World Water Week 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. [Publication: Women as Change-makers in the Governance of Shared Waters] [Abstract of Report] [IUCN Press Release]