Women, Water, and Leadership

Publication | December 2014

There is a gender gap in water management leadership at all levels of government—national, municipal, and local—and it encompasses water utilities, and water supply and irrigation community governance groups.

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This brief synthesizes the key findings from a workshop jointly sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The workshop brought together 80 academics; researchers; industry practitioners; and members of the public and private sectors, civil society, and development organizations to study the current situation, discuss the gaps in women’s leadership, and learn from good practices.

Key Points

  • Since women are the primary users and managers of household water, they have a major stake in water matters and must be involved in decisions about water issues.
  • Projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that are not.
  • At the national level, there is a correlation between the number of women in elected positions and the formulation of policies and legislation related to women’s issues, including water and agriculture services, day care, and street lighting.
  • Within local government, women’s participation and leadership have led to greater investment in women’s issues, such as safe drinking water, sanitation, child care services, drainage, and street and village lighting.
  • Within communities, women’s leadership has led to improved water security and greater efficiency.
  • Corporate companies with greater gender diversity in their leadership teams outperform those with lesser diversity—often by as much as 30%.
  • Women leaders are needed at all levels of society, in water utilities, government water agencies, and international and regional water institutions to reduce the democratic gender deficit in water leadership.

Additional Details

  • Gender Equality
  • Water
  • Water Resource Management
  • ABF147027-2
  • 978-92-9254-819-3 (print)
  • 978-92-9254-820-9 (electronic)
  • 2071-7202 (print)
  • 2218-2675 (electronic)

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