The International decade for action- water for life 2005-2015 recognizes the importance of women as actors in water management. The United Nations Resolution A/RES/58/217, 2003, par.2 establishes that the goals of the decade are to ensure a greater focus on water-related issues at all levels
and on the implementation of water-related programmes and projects, while striving to ensure the participation and involvement of women in water-related development efforts, and the furtherance of cooperation at all levels, to help in achieving the internationally agreed water-related goals.
WOFAN, represented by the Executive Director- Hajia Salamatu Garba, was at the Gender Forum captioned “Empowerment of Women a Foundation for Successful Transnational Water Cooperation” which took place on the 19th August 2013 a day before the conference.
More than one hundred fifty participants including more than one hundred women from around the world participated in this event. Its outcomes fed in the High Level Panel and are reflected in the conclusions below.
The fundamental role of women in water management was considered, given their role in their families and communities and the importance of strengthening women’s leadership in water policy and decision- making to achieve more effective implementation of water cooperation.
Women Farmers Advancement Network- WOFAN has undertaken projects in Northern Nigeria targeting
Ø Water is a key foundation, whose importance can hardly be overestimated. It is a common denominator of the leading global challenges of our time – climate change, energy, food, health, peace and security.
Ø Water management can reduce the risk of disasters, such as droughts and floods.
Ø Nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in water management among all stakeholders and improving the comprehension of the challenges and benefits of water cooperation can help build mutual respect; understanding and trust among countries promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth.
Ø An inclusive, participatory and gender sensitive governance of water and cooperation between different stakeholders can help to overcome inequity and prevent conflicts in access to water and contribute to poverty eradication, socio-economic development, gender equality and social equity.
Ø Mobilizing political will and commitment to address water issues worldwide is vital. Equally important are forward thinking and a willingness to consider innovative ways to approach local, regional and international cooperation. Open discussion of the issues shaping our water resources today and strong citizen participation in decision-making (is key to fostering good governance and a climate of accountability and transparency) can stimulate cooperative action and political commitment.
Ø Promoting a culture of consultation and increasing participative capacities will help to deliver benefits in all areas, including collaborative water management.
The professional and traditional roles of women represent a significant social capital that can and should be used for effecting change in water governance that is needed for social and economic development and environmental integrity, as well as for bridging between stakeholders and bringing about cross-sectoral and transboundary exchange and cooperation.
Achieving gender equity in Water Cooperation
In order to achieve gender equity, there has to be equitable allocation of costs and benefits on water cooperation, both social and economic. The greatestpositions of influence are at the grass roots: women in communities need to be empowered to articulate the most pressing local needs and to adequately inform decision-makers bottom-up. To achieve meaningful participatory approaches for better water cooperation requires investing in leveling the playing field for informed decision making. It requires a change in mind- set to view women as actors and agents of change rather than as victims and vulnerable groups.
Water co-operation should begin and end with women’s full inclusion at all levels. There needs to be a critical mass of women in positions of influence in water management at all levels, which requires targeted investments in women’s human capital.
It is necessary to create a Women for Water Fund to support women projects and programs in water management, with a scholarship fund to support the training of women water professionals. Capacity development at all level is crucial for ensuring gender equity and mainstreaming gender. The success of the Gender Forum created expectations to build on this success with a follow-up national water conference in Tajikistan (Working Conference organized with the key- role of Women for Water Partnership).
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.