GWD Conference to embrace "Equality for Women is progress for All" IWD theme

GWP SA is a member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the Gender Water and Development (GWD) Conference which will be held from 7-11 July 2014 in East London, South Africa. During the month of March 2014, the LOC reflected on the role of gender equality and how this can be prioritised as a mechanism for creating more equal societies and spurring development. Reflecting on the 2014 International Women’s Day Theme “Equality for Women is Progress for All”, The LOC resolved that this was a key message that needed to be rolled out as the world commemorated International Women’s Day, which fell on 8th March.

According to the Conference Chairperson Barbara Schreiner “Our intention for the conference is to challenge the social constructs that define roles for men and women and tackle topics that intersect race, class and gender. Only through an equal society can we achieve the kind of economic stability needed for growth and development in our poorest countries.”

The conference programme will carry on that message and will therefore be designed to encourage broad stakeholder engagement and to serve as a platform for key role players from community based organisations, academia, government institutions and the private sector to exchange knowledge and distil best practice on gender perspectives in policy, programme implementation and governance.

In addition to GWPO and GWP SA staff that will attend the conference, GWP will also support the participation of 5 gender focal points from it’s Regional Water Partnerships. These will participate in a panel discussion that will introduce the GWP new strategy which mainstreams gender by providing ‘equality for women and for all.” According to GWP SA Executive Secretary Ms Ruth Beukman, “The GWP network has always had inclusiveness and gender sensitivity as core values. The new 2014-2019 Strategy “Towards 2020” has built on this by adopting gender as a cross cutting strategic issue and by developing a strategy for putting it into practice. This panel will introduce GWP’s Gender Strategy and highlight the challenges and opportunities of gender sensitive and women inclusive policymaking in water.”

The African Minister's Council (AMCOW) on Water and Gender Strategy will be used as the guiding framework for discussions during the conference where seven clear objectives have been identified from policy, resource, strategic research, capacity building, cooperation and monitoring and evaluation as needed to achieve the overall objective of gender equality.

As the country host, this event also forms part of South Africa's 20 years of celebration of freedom, where the Department of Water Affairs will reflect on its scorecard in delivering clean drinking water and sanitation to the country’s poorest citizens and its efforts to erase the infrastructure backlog of the apartheid legacy. It is therefore fitting that the conference is held in the country’s historically poorest province, the Eastern Cape, birthplace of former President Nelson Mandela.

The Conference, which will be convened by the Water Research Commission to debate what challenges and successes have emerged in mainstreaming gender across water policy. Co-hosts for the conference include South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs, the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and the International Women for Water Partnership (WFWP). Several partner organisations including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the international Water and Sanitation Partnership (WSP), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Pretoria, and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) will support the conference in aligning with global initiatives and widening the audience.

Participants (including exhibiters and journalists) interested in attending may now register on the Conference website at

 For more information contact:

Water Research Commission

Adriaan Taljaard

Communication and Marketing Manager