International Women's Day 2018 - inspirational thoughts from the GWP-Med female water community

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year to commemorate the movement for women's rights. For 2018, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. This has taken the form of global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo and #TimesUp in the United States of America and their counterparts in other countries, on issues ranging from sexual harassment and femicide to equal pay and women’s political representation. In this context, the UN theme for the 2018 International Women’s Day is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

As a leading global action network, and as done in previous years, GWP marks the International Women’s Day by highlighting quotes from women water champions. Drawing on the global theme for this year, women from the water community have been asked to reflect on the question: Time is now for equality in water access and management! How can activism empower #WaterWomen? 

Drawing from the wealth and spirit of the Mediterranean region, below are inspirational thoughts from the GWP-Med female water community making a strong call-to-action for progress towards gender equity in the region and the world.


Zeina Majdalani

Civil Engineer at the Office of the Prime Minister, and President of the Women Zeina
Engineers Committee – Lebanon


To ensure water security for all and the sustainability of water projects, there needs to be more equity, and WOMEN need to have greater involvement in DECISIONS about water policies and strategies, water resource management, or tariff setting and technology choices.

WOMEN WATER LEADERS are needed not only in communities, utilities, and government agencies, but also at the level of national and international POLICY MAKING, and in nongovernment agencies so that gender-inclusive water policies can be translated to national levels, and properly implemented.


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Esse Nilsson

Senior Programme Manager, Unit for the MENA, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) – Sweden 



We are all equal in the need for water and in the rights to water. Let us also have equal power to access and sustain the water in the future!


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Marie Therese Seif

President-Human Environmental Association for Development – Lebanon. UNEP West Seif  Asia Regional Representative for MGS


Education inspires the pursuit of each’s own destiny. Voicing women’s rights and being active about achieving the SDGs, starting with quality education, strengthens opportunities for young women and enlightens them on the importance of sanitation in water consumption especially when related to pregnancy, health & well-being. Climate Change is more than ever affecting clean water access, especially in rural areas. Investing in infrastructure to reduce women’s and girls’ time burdens and their reliance on informal employment allows time for school, work and personal evolvement. This evolvement then leads to women knowing their rights and the courage to demand for them in all fields of inequality, paving a way for #waterwoman and #everythingwomen.


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Waad Odeh

Project Manager, Ecopeace Middle East Odeh


Women are heavily underrepresented in Middle East politics and have been largely excluded from attempts to resolve the conflict as well. As in other areas of control, they are almost completely absent from decision-making institutions involving water at the local, national and regional levels; from local water boards, to national water agencies or cross-border water institutions. Broader social discrimination results in women disproportionately absent from municipal representation, critical in water and sanitation decision-making. In response, every effort should be made to have women comprise half of participating community members. In addition, women should be empowered in peace process advocacy and encouraged to lead the effort to speak out about the need for solving water issues, given the disproportionate burden that women face in the current water crisis. To do so, women who are prominent in their communities and can serve as champions of water issues need to be identified, social action should be taken together by women and men for water arrangements, the ability of women side by side with men to call for policy change on water-related issues should be improved, and finally,  understanding should increase by both women, men, and the general public of gender-sensitive water-related challenges.


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Anja Taarup Nordlund

MD of Nordic Consulting Group - Sweden Anja


#WaterWomen have the knowledge, the strength and the ability! When women and men are equal in decision-making - we are one step closer to sustainable water management


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Iman AbdEl Al

Foundation Ibrahim AbdEl Al for Sustainable development –Lebanon. Co-Chair Citizen Forum Process, 8th World Water Forum, Brasilia 2018AbdEl Al


We are at the very crucial moment in time.

To empower #WaterWomen, activism has the opportunity to be aligned with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to strive on all of society engagement and partnership, to discuss effective measures to accelerate the implementation of SGDs 6 and 17, target 6.a, 6.b, 17.17 and the Dublin Principles 3.

Women are qualified to become agents of change in water use and preservation. Women social capital is a valuable resource for action at all levels. Activism to call for the creation of an enabling environment for Women ‘s inclusive and meaningful participation in decision-making and implementation of water resource management programs.


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Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou

Vice-Chair, Steering Committee, Global Water Partnership Organization, Stockholm, Sweden; ED, European Institute of Law, Science & Technology, Athens, Greece; f. Member of the Hellenic Parliament, Chair, Environment Committee of the Parliament; Attorney at Law, LL.M., J.S.D. Avgerinopoulou


Water is essential for the well-being of women and the health of our families. Access to good quality water is vital to protect pregnant women from serious diseases. Access to good quality water within households is a vital precondition, in order to minimize unnecessary women labor, since in many countries women and girls are still obliged to collect and carry water.  Women globally lead the efforts to clean, adequate and high-quality water. Women scientists excel in water-related technologies, such as desalination and depollution and reuse of wastewater. Sustainable and integrated water management is one of the top priorities of many women leaders.


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Roula Majdalani

Director, Sustainable Development and Productivity Division, UN ESCWA Roula


Time is indeed for Action Now, to build on the GA Resolution 64/292, recognising the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, and achieving by 2030, for all women and men, refugees and displaced persons alike and all vulnerable groups, “universal access to safe and affordable drinking water” (SDG6, Target 6.1). For, after all, access to safe drinking water for women, is access to a safer world for all!