The compendium documents the journey of 41 women water stewards in India, recognizing and promoting women’s leadership in water governance. A detailed and thorough process was followed to identify the champions working at the grassroots in improving access to and efficiency in water availability and use. WGF under its GoAL -WaterS programme has been providing both technical and funding support to the UNDP country office in this WWC initiative and the larger work around creating a Community of Practice on #WaterMatters: Agenda 2030 & Women in Water Governance.
The WWC compendium was officially launched through an online event held on 2 June 2021, in presence of Ms. Birgitta Liss Lymer, SIWI’s Water Resources Programme Director and lead of the WGF; Ms. Nadia Rasheed, the UNDP India Deputy Resident Representative; Mr. G Asok Kumar, the Additional Secretary, and Mission Director, National Water Mission (NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti, along with local partners and organizations, and a number of Women Water Champions.
Women and water have a critical connection in India
During the event, UNDP’s deputy resident representative in her opening remarks stressed the need to promote the role of women in the management and governance of critical resources, and the WWC is an initiative aimed at amplifying the voices of women from the grassroots in the country. She further highlighted that women make up more than half of the world’s small-scale farmers, yet they lack adequate inclusion in water planning and decision making. WGF lead Ms. Lymer in her remarks stated that water projects gain efficiency and sustainability when both women and men are involved in the decision-making around water management and service delivery. She shared about the experience of the WGF team’s engagement in the WWC initiative and in the development of the compendium that highlights inspiring and incredible works of women water managers in India. Talking about the diversity of women featured in this compendium speaks to many of the different challenges and experiences of women across India, she stated that this initiative will further help us to recognize the different but very valuable contributions that women everywhere can and do make to water management.
The NWM’s AD&MD Mr. Kumar highlighted that women and water have a critical connection in India, and it is important to recognize the values of water and the role of women in managing it. With women bearing the responsibility of drinking water for their households, the government of India’s programme towards providing water tap connections in every household will address many of the challenges faced by women today.
He also shared about the government’s Catch the Rain campaign and affirmed that NWM will continue in its effort towards promoting and building awareness on gender equality and women empowerment.
The engagement of the NWM in this initiative is an important recognition bringing attention among decision-makers to the importance of women empowerment for improved water governance in the country. Following this event, the efforts under WWC will be continued and the compendium will be widely disseminated through social media campaigns and the UNDP India’s IT Knowledge platform for the #WaterMatters Community of Practice. In addition to this, other suitable platforms will be made available for these champions to amplify their voices, through the Ministry of Jal Shakti’s -Water Talks and the Stockholm World Water Week, leading to enhancing awareness among different stakeholders, influencing peer-to-peer learning, and promoting women’s leadership, and thereby influencing policy at the national level.