It’s warm and sunny in Athens and tourists have started rambling around the small streets of the Plaka old quarter where the offices of GWP-Med are located. With the daily task of getting into the office requiring an ability to manoeuvre through large groups of tourists, we started wondering whether all these people have a sense of how critical the water issue is or know about the linkages between gender and water.
So we decided to ask them. Off we got from our desks for a couple of hours and engaged passers-by in an impromptu survey to check their knowledge and perception around water issues and the interlinkages with the gender agenda, while raising their awareness on the issues and on GWP/GWP-Med as well. We called this the ‘Gender & Water Plaka Street Survey’ and the purpose was to simply see how aware people are about the issues that lie so close to our heart.
In all, 91 people responded. Most of them became increasingly interested during the 2-mins interviews and often stayed longer to ask for more information. All respondents received a leaflet-profile of GWP-Med together with other communication materials (cards, pins, leaflets).
We knew that we had to keep the interview short (answering long series of questions are not tourists’ best idea of having a good time!), so all we asked them was
- If they are aware of the World Water Day and the International Women’s Day
- If they are aware of the SDGs and if yes of the dedicated ones on water and on gender equality
- If and how they think that the agendas of water and women are interlinked
For what it’s worth, here are the results of our impromptu survey:
- Practically everyone (98%) was aware of the International Women’s Day but only 44% of the World Water Day
- 53% had heard of the SDGs / Agenda 2030 but only 21% knew there are dedicated goals for water and for gender equality
- In the last question, almost half couldn’t easily think of a connection between water and women. Among those that did, many identified the issue of women overseeing water-consuming housekeeping activities and of women in poorer countries having to spend a lot of their time to bring water to the household. Other responses were quite generic (“both women and water are a source of life”) or even male-centred (“we need them both”)
- Of course, we never aspired to having a scientific survey and our sample and questions were too small to identify any correlations. Responses were quite homogeneously spread across demographics, but in our small sample we identified a slightly increased awareness in the 18-24 age group on the SDGs and of the existence of a World Water Day
On the demographics of our survey:
- We had a gender balance among respondents of 60% females – 40% males
- Respondents came from 20 different countries, although more than 40% were Greeks
- The top age group was 45-54 (26%) followed by 18-24 (20%). Half of the respondents were over 45
This brief exercise showed us aptly that many of the things we take for granted within our GWP family and in our work with partners are not sufficiently known or well understood by many people. Therefore, and in parallel to our work at the technical, policy and institutional levels, we need to increase the awareness-raising efforts on water-related issues and trigger positive action in the context of our activities but also in our daily lives.