WOMEN AND WATER
WOMEN AND WATER
The roundtable that focused on the theme “Women and Water” had a connotation of encouraging women to participate at the different scales of decision-making systems and to empower themselves with water-related discussions. The dialogue began with a challenge for the speakers to show how women/men can influence water-related actions, from a feminine perspective.
To all panelists, women are like water, life-giving sources on the planet.
However, in the rural and urban context of each full of diversity country, from a geographical, cultural, economic and social point of view, the vast majority of women do not actively participate in decision-making processes in water-related instances. These positions are usually held by men who, in some cases, even though they do not have much knowledge of the subject under discussion, actively participate in these deliberative instances.
The debate showed that women often put themselves in a lower role, both in the upper and lower social classes. In the higher social classes some women stand out as leaders of different water-related segments, but the vast majority only assume the role of assisting men in different decision-making instances. In the lower or poorer social classes, where basic sanitation is not in place, the situation is much worse, as women, along with children, take on the job of fetching water with heavy utensils over long distances. Even though it is a work that requires a lot of strength, it is not done by men, because it is considered a women’s work.
It has been shown that the idea of introducing the female perspective into decision-making systems arises in the last century at the Dublin Conference in Ireland, and that in recent years this reality has begun to change shyly, but with the help of organizations that encourage collective and humanitarian actions and with more democratic and participatory laws this reality is beginning to change.
Participants were reminded that since that time, many initiatives have taken place in many parts of the world and many women have discovered their strength and power in decision-making procedures. Concrete actions are already being developed for water in different countries, along with the help of men who also influence the decision-making.
The debate showed that water is an important empowerment tool for women to position themselves. But for panelists it is necessary to join forces and gather more and more women and children for participation and discussion. We need to come together and multiply the idea of empowerment and social participation.
As a result of the discussions, it was suggested that women who are already awakened to the empowerment process should multiply this idea and encourage all women of all classes, creeds and ethnicities to lead the water issue; the adhesion to the creation of the Latin American Women Water Network with the insertion in the agendas of organizations supported by the UN and that can participate in environmental agencies, water resources management system as a whole, Watershed Committees, that is, always focusing on the discussion of women’s insertion in decision-making discussions.
At last, the roundtable showed that in today’s world, it is appropriated for empowered women to work together with men to benefit the whole community.
The role of women is to reach out to their representatives in different economic and social sectors, but with the potential and ability to decide on an equal basis with men, because in some countries there are democratic spaces in the decision-making system that need to be occupied.
Daniela Nogueira (UNB)
Alice Baumann (Netherlands)
Rosana Garjuti (Federal University of Ceara)
Lavinia Anastacia (Azerbaijan).