Gender mainstreaming remains the principal tool for achieving gender equality and for redistributing power and influence in the Nexus sectors in the Drin Riparians

During an online workshop covering the issues of Gender in natural resources management in the Drin River basin, participants agreed that sustainable development and gender equality areinseperable. However, it was acknowledged that water management and the nexus water-food-energy-ecosystems remain largely a masculine domain. It was finally agreed that for a meaningful analysis and gender-sensitive policy making, institutions and a statistical system that provide gender disaggregated data are needed.

On 12 October 2021, approximately 60 participants from the Drin River Basin participated at the workshop “Gender dimensions in the sustainable management of natural resources through a Nexus approach in the Drin River Basin”.  The overall focus of the workshop was the interplay between sustainable management of natural resources and gender in the Drin River basin: Albania, North Macedonia, and Kosovo*. 

The present article presents the Workshop's key take outs. 

The Workshop’s key aims were to:

  • Introduce and update the Nexus-related stakeholders with the basic concepts on gender equality, women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming as key components of sustainable development and how gender inequality impacts progress towards Agenda 2030.
  • Inform participants on the nexus approach and its benefits for the nexus sectors.
  • Provide a platform for the Drin Riparians to share best practices and case studies on main nexus related sectors (water resources and management, agriculture-land use, energy, environmental protection, climate change); discuss potential policies, measures or support schemes that could remove such barriers and enhance related opportunities.
  • Discuss women leadership, empowerment, and participation approaches in nexus sectors and how they can support Drin related challenges.
  • Create synergies and try to establish a regional network of nexus sector stakeholders and gender experts and institution

The workshop brought together representatives from the three beneficiary countries and from the Nexus sectors especially gender specialists and focal points from the institutions, agencies, and civil society organizations, academia or actors having a strong record of activities and ability to assist with promoting change. It was organised in the framework of the SEE project “Promoting Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe,” supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and implemented by Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Key outcomes and messages

  • Sustainable development and gender equality are inseparable. However, sustainable development discourse often neglects to address equal access to natural resources of various marginalised groups, including women. Women do not enjoy the same rights to land, one of the crucial natural resources. Traditional gender roles, stereotypes and patriarchal traditional norms are recognised as the principal obstacle to achieving gender equality.
  • Energy, water, and food are interlinked. However, water management and the nexus water-food-energy-ecosystems largely remain a masculine domain. To change this, gender mainstreaming remains the principal tool for achieving gender equality and for redistributing power and influence. Closing gender gaps depends on enlightened government policies that take gender dimension into account and use innovative tools such as gender responsive budgeting. We need to transform gender norms and go from gender-blind, to gender-neutral, gender-aware, gender mainstreaming, to gender transformative approaches.
  • Forestry was one of the Nexus areas prominently addressed at the workshop. In accessing forest resources, women and men face different challenges. Male gender roles are associated with tasks that deal with control of assets, mobility, and decision-making. Female roles typically involve manual labour for the collection of firewood.
  • For a meaningful analysis and gender-sensitive policy making, institutions and a statistical system that provide gender disaggregated data are needed.

When it comes to women leadership for sustainable development in Nexus sectors, the key messages are

  • Women in position of power can help convince the population to behave responsibly when it comes to water and waste management.
  • Education among women is necessary to convince them to engage in sustainable waste management.
  • In creating water policies, the government must consult both women and men, because they use water resources differently.
  • When women are empowered, men behave less individualistically. This, in fact, increases household efficiency.

Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Dr. Anthi Brouma, Deputy Regional Coordinator, Theme Leader on Water Regional Governance, Sustainable Financing & Diversity of GWP-Med welcomed participants and outlined the importance of linking gender with nexus sectors and what this means for sustainable development. Today water management and the nexus water-food-energy-ecosystems largely remain still a very masculine domain. Dr. Brouma further highlighted that addressing gender inequalities—including access to and control over natural resources—accelerates the impact of sustainable development policies connected to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ms. Corinna Pröll, Gender and Development Advisor, Austrian Development Agency (ADA) confirmed that for ADA, gender mainstreaming remains the principal tool for achieving gender equality and is an integral part of all ADA interventions to contribute in, for redistributing power and influence and creating equal opportunities for all. Closing gender gaps depends on enlightened government policies that take gender dimension into account and use innovative tools such as gender responsive budgeting. We have to recognize environmental changes and recognize that they are never gender neutral and neither should be the responses to them.

Session I

Gender Equality for Sustainable Development and nexus sectors
This session introduced the concept of nexus approach, nexus sectors and why gender equality supports sustainable management of natural resources and sustainable development. The session also introduced perceived challenges from the participants of the survey shared for this workshop in the Drin Riparians.

Mr. Tassos Krommydas, Senior Programme Officer of GWP-Med, presented a few key findings on nexus activities in the Drin River Basin. He explained that the Nexus approach optimises in a combined manner security in water, energy, land, and other resources, while preserving healthy ecosystems.

Mr. Krommydas presentation:

Dr. Liza Debevec, GWP Senior Gender and Social Inclusions specialist, discussed gender transformative policies, the role of gender mainstreaming, and the overall perspective of GWP on gender, water management and Nexus process. According to Dr. Debevec, we need to transform gender norms. This may mean going from gender-blind, to gender-neutral, gender-aware, gender mainstreaming and finally, to gender transformative approaches. The last one refers to all programmes and interventions that create opportunities for individuals to actively challenge gender norms, promote position of social and political influence for women in communities and address gender inequalities. Gender transformative approaches do address the deep seeded cultural beliefs, e.g., about how education may not be for girls, or their future role as wives and mothers.

Ms. Fiorela Shalsi, Senior Gender Advisor, GWP-Med, noted that “Sustainable development is development that ensures human well-being, ecological integrity, gender equality and social justice, now and in the future”. The three main areas to work in reducing the gaps and addressing these disparities are (i) Redressing socio-economic disadvantage in the domains of work, well-being and access to resources, (ii) Enhancing recognition and dignity and (iii) Enhancing equal participation in decision-making at multiple levels, Ms. Shalsi concluded.

Ms. Shalsi's presentation:

Ms. Branislava Jovicic, Communications Consultant, Founder and Editor of Balkan Green Energy News of the Center for Promotion of Sustainable Development, presented the results of the survey conducted from 1 to 11 October for the Drin Riparian region. The survey involved 26 participants (15 female, 10 male and 1 unknown). Participants recognized the negative impact of violence against women, and participation in decision-making as the most important aspects of, or obstacle to achieving, sustainable development.

The survey: 

Session II

Gender mainstreaming in the governmental strategies and policies
This session discussed governments efforts for gender sensitive strategies and policies and offered a few examples that illustrate why gender mainstreaming is so important. It further provided an exemplary case on how gender disaggregated data support evidence-based policy making by providing more clarity on differences between women and men.

Ms. Brunilda Dervishaj, Director, Sector of Policies and Strategies for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania, presented the national Strategy on Gender Equality, its progress and challenges. Ms. Brunilda emphasized that gender mainstreaming in the nexus sectors is of particular importance, but it must be acknowledged that the work and information in these areas is at a very preliminary phase. As a result the efforts to mainstream gender in these sectors are yet difficult and challenging. In this Strategy, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP) has given for the first time some emphasis to gender issues in environment, climate change, digitalization and green economy which were before considered neutral or gender blind. Another achievement is gender budgeting both at national and local level and this enables the achievement of gender equality goals. However, at the local level, gender participatory budgeting still needs to be equally included at local level.

Ms. Dervishaj noted that one of the key achievements of Albania in the area of Gender Equality is women’s participation in leadership that needs also to be reflected in the level and power of decision making. Overall, Ms Dervishaj concluded that to have a good strategy, a very good analysis of the situation with data disaggregated needs to be conducted together with an evaluation of the situation, general consultation with all stakeholders and of course dedicated budget and human resources.

Ms. Blerina Subashi, Research Analyst, IDRA Research and Consulting, ex-Head of Statistical Department INSTAT, presented the importance of data disaggregation and gender analysis and its impact on a gender-sensitive policy making. For example, data in the nexus sector is lacking and this makes it very difficult to provide gender indicators and prepare gender sensitive policies. There is a positive trend towards more gender disaggregated data, so collection of gender statistics continues.

Gender in Nexus Sectors (WEFE) in Drin River Basin
The session discussed case studies, best practices, and lessons learned from the Drin River Basin that address gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the Nexus sectors. The main topics discussed were gender data disaggregation, women in agriculture, energy and water, forest and biomass and climate change. The session aimed to identify potential interventions for creating further synergies, share knowledge and establish a regional gender network in the Basin.

Ms. Mirlinda Kusari, Director and Founder of SHEERA Organization, Kosovo, presented how cross-border rivers for clean water are managed and the possible role of women in it.  She emphasised that women and men need to participate equally at national and local level. This also had to be done in line with national strategies and policies and also introduce relevant changes that will support the right actions towards protection of waters, which impact all the flora and fauna of the regions where there is water. Focus should be given to women and men understanding and actions towards water protection and waste management.

Ms. Pavlina Zdraveva, Manager, UNDP, North Macedonia has been involved in development of all Macedonian climate change policy, strategic and legal documents since the start of the climate change agenda in 2000. Her presentation focused on sustainable policies and innovative tools for gender specific climate change resilience. Ms. Zdraveva presented the national climate change platform in Macedonia. She introduced a detailed map of activities which were all prepared through “gender lens” to climate change discourse. The mapping exercise proved once again the need to plan and obtain data. She explained how they started from the analysis to development of a Gender Action Plan and all other steps towards more gender sensitive actions for climate change.

Ms. Pavlina Zdraveva's presentation: 

Ms. Vaska Mojsovska, President and Ms. Biljana Petrovska – Mitrevska, Project Manager of the National Federation of Farmers (NFF), North Macedonia, presented challenges faced by women farmers in agriculture. Due to traditional social norms, less than 27% of all real estate in Macedonia is owned by women. In rural areas, less than 5% of arable land is owned by women. This is reflected in a very low decision-making power held by women. The COVID pandemic had a particularly negative impact on women in rural areas of Macedonia. NFF’s Gender Equality Policy aims to establish a clear framework for identification, implementation, and coordination of all organization’s activities.  The Network of Women Farmers promotes greater involvement of women in creating agricultural and rural development policies.  

Ms. Mojsovska's presentation: 

Mr. Erion Istrefi, Coordinator, Environmental Services Project, Ministry of Tourism and Environment, Albania, presented a project financed by the Swedish Government and USAID on forest management, use of biomass, and women’s socio-economic empowerment. The main objective of Environmental Services Project was to support sustainable land management in mainly rural upland areas.

Mr. Erion Istrefi: 

Mr. Janaq Male, Country Director of Connecting Natural Values and People (CNVP), a Dutch registered civil organisation, shared their experience in natural resource management in Albania. In CNVP experience, the key constraints for women participation in forestry sector are: lack of awareness and limited participation in activities, limited participation in decision making bodies, limited control over resources, and lack of law application and enforcement in gender and social inclusion related matters. Ms. Anila Aliaj, Gender Advisor and Regional Coordinator of CNVP in Albania pointed to studies conducted by CNVP that show that women are highly engaged in forestry related activities, with distinct division of roles. Male gender roles are associated with tasks that deal with control of assets, mobility, and decision-making. Female roles typically involve manual labour for the collection of firewood. This division of labour means that women have limited access to decision making.

CNVP's presentation: 

Dr Abdulla Diku, Forest Engineer, Freelance, Albania on sustainable forest management, considers women as the main stakeholders in forest related activities, while men are the main beneficiaries of this industry.

Women leadership for sustainable development in Nexus sectors
The session discussed the importance of women in governance, women empowerment, and participation in decision making especially in nexus sectors.

Ms. Mirela Arqimandriti, Gender Alliance for Development presented “Women participation and representation in politics – Albania a success story”. Albania is advanced in women's representation in government. This, however, is not reflected on lower levels power and in other sectors, including private. Gender based violence, or violence against women, is another important concern in Albania. Water, often quite polluted in Albania, is the most important sector in terms of gender, so women should be very active on the local level of decision making. Education among women is necessary to convince them not to throw waste into water and pollute it. Women, when in position of power, can do a lot to convince the population to behave responsibly when it comes to water and waste management.

Ms. Valmira Rashiti, Kosovo Women’s Network, presented efforts to empower women to become part of the Nexus Approach and to overcome cultural challenges and institutional barriers. KWN has been trying to incorporate gender policies into different sectors, including the environment, water management, and energy. The Organization encourages its members to provide expertise at the local level and to participate in gender responsive budgeting related to environmental policies. In creating water policies government must consult both women and men, to better understand how they use water resources differently. 

Ms. Marina Nacka, Associate Professor, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food Institute of Agricultural Economics, North Macedonia, presented a case study -- how to measure women empowerment in agriculture, as evidence-based research for effective policy implications. The project, done in collaboration with Texas A&M University, employed an innovative methodology to observe the behaviour and elicit the decision-making through a bottom-up participatory and innovative approach. The project contributed to the establishment of 5 indexes to measure gender and women empowerment especially within the household. The key finding is this: when women are empowered, men behave less individualistically, and this increases household efficiency.

Ms. Marina Nacka's presentation: 


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