GWPEA Celebrates International Women's Day

This year, GWP marks the International Women’s Day by highlighting quotes from women water champions. Drawing on the global theme for this year: Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality, we are asking women in the water community to answer the question: How can the water sector step it up for gender equality?

In Eastern Africa, we interviewed Mrs Doreen Wandera, the Executive Director of UWASNET (Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network) and below are her views:

In Uganda, women and girls are the major water collectors, users and managers in homes. They are also the major promoters of household and community sanitation activities. They therefore bear the impact of inadequate, deficient or inappropriate water and sanitation services. Men however still dominate the arena of planning and decision making regarding water and sanitation development and women’s views are often under-represented or excluded, implying that women’s practical and strategic needs are not addressed.  Example; Statistics from the Ministry of Water and Environment, female representation in top and senior management within the Ministry of Water and Environment is 19%. The majority of employees  in technical positions (engineering) are male, while the majority of the support staff (social scientists, secretaries, office attendants and cleaners) who do not have much impact on decision-making are female.

Solutions could be:

  • There is a need to emphasize a special approach on girls’ education, especially in technical aspects, to ensure increased women’s participation. This will help in increasing women’s presence in “male dominated” professions.
  • At the local level, while women now hold more positions on water committees, they often struggle to attend meetings due to other commitments.  Urgent need to broaden the focus on women’s participation beyond water to address the deeper causes of poverty.  Women need to be empowered economically to enable them participate in water provision, income generation and confidence building
  • Technical and Economical women empowerment is vital to achieving gender equality in Uganda water sector.” Direct empowerment of women through participation and control of assets, human resource development and employment equity; and indirect empowerment through preferential procurement and enterprise development; such as alternative energy technology that could create income-generating opportunities for women while also protecting local environments and water catchment areas.