Last July, several women from the water sector got together to promote the presence and visibility of women professionals in all areas related to the water cycle. The first platform of women from the water sector resulted from this meeting.
We talk with one of its main supporters, Ana Isabel López, Director of Business Development for International Projects at Danfoss HPP.
Question: Where does the idea of creating the first platform of women from the water sector come from?
Answer: The idea came up during the International Water Reuse and Recycling Conference organised by the International Desalination Association (IDA) and the Spanish Desalination and Reuse Association (AEDYR) in June 2018 in Valencia. Looking around us, we commented on the lack of female representation at the conference, and from that point on we started to exchange views on how to encourage the participation of women in the water industry. It was not a conversation in vain: the dialogue continued and finally this year we managed to slowly shape and build a network of women who work in the water sector, in different areas of specialisation.
Q: What are the objectives and goals of this organisation?
A: The objective that drives and brings together this organisation is encouraging and increasing the participation of women in the water sector. One of the goals of this organisation is to give visibility to women who are already present and active in the sector, to increase their participation in different fora and also to generate opportunities for future generations. One of the major objectives is to promote the integration and participation of women in the different levels of organisation and specialisation of the industry. In addition, members can support each other, and the organisation acts as a platform to share news, articles of interest and activities that may come up related to all aspects of the water industry.
In a world where water scarcity is increasing, leading to more challenges and opportunities for this sector, we have to gather all the talent available at the professional level. Women should continue to be an important source of new talent for the industry. The initiatives to drive and support the advancement of women are more necessary than ever: increasing gender parity in the sector is a must, women cannot be left behind, and have to continue to be an important source of new talent, vital for the sector.
The objective that drives and brings together this organisation is encouraging and increasing the participation of women in the water sector
Although a lot remains to be done, some ideas have already come to fruition, such as the creation of a LinkedIn network that gives visibility to those women already part of the sector. We want to generate activities and initiatives that, besides giving visibility, encourage women to specialise in the water field, even at universities, as well as provide capacity building and training, among others. We also want to establish relationships with research centres and universities to promote specialisation in the water field and related professional areas.
Q: Who is part of this network? How can people join?
A: There are no requirements as such to join the platform of women in the water industry. Any women related to the sector and interested in participating and being part of this group is welcome. There is no limit to the number of people who can join. The idea is to promote integration, engaging in activities that include men and women, and increase the participation of the latter. Logically, the group is made up of women who already work in one of the areas of specialisation related to the sector.
Those women who want to join the group can do it in the group 'Mujeres del Agua – Women of our Industry'.
Since it was created, we have received several requests from women interested in joining the platform. We are delighted to see that a network is slowly being created to share articles of interest, fora, knowledge, and activities and news related to the sector.
Q: What activities are now being carried out under the umbrella of the network? What are the next events planned?
A: During the short time the group has been active, there have been very interesting meetings and activities.
On February 28th of this year, on the occasion of the SIGA trade fair, ACCIONA held the 1st Meeting of Women in the Water Sector. Maribel Forniés, in charge of engineering at the Jebel Ali desalination plant in Dubai, and Rosa García, former president of Siemens, participated. Maribel shared her professional experience in Qatar, which was very interesting, as it is a country where it is not easy to be a woman, and even less to have an important position in the business world.
We want to generate activities and initiatives that, besides giving visibility, encourage women to specialise in the water field
Rosa García shared her experience as a senior manager, talking about the pros and the cons of being a CEO. She advised us about ethics, determination, study, knowledge update, and also about the importance of having a work-life balance. A very inspiring talk that lifted our spirits and set a good example to follow.
It was a great initiative by ACCIONA that we hope it will be a starting point for many more similar gatherings to share the experiences of successful female business managers.
Furthermore, during this time some interesting articles have been published. Last June, the IDA published an article about this same initiative in the summer 2019 issue of its IDA Global Connections magazine.
Finally, another meeting took place during the IDA World Congress 2019 held in Dubai in October.
Some of the women who have formed and are promoting this group are:
- Elena de la Vieja, Commercialization Director at Aqua Advise.
- Elena Reyna, Director of Water Communications and Marketing at ACCIONA.
- Shannon McCarthy, Secretary General of the IDA.
- Kimberly Kupiecki, Director of Communications and Sustainability at Dupont.
- Kelly Grieves, Manager of Mergers and Acquisitions at Seven Seas.