© Mukhopadhyay Somenath. WIN photo competition 2012.

10 ways to support the full participation of women in water and boost water integrity

Water integrity is a women's issue

Here’s a paradox. Women are the main collectors and managers of water for households. They are also the main victims of poor water governance and corruption. They are too rarely given their rightful place at the decision-making table.

There can be no integrity without the full participation of women in decision-making

Women’s skills and knowledge are key for the sustainable, effective, and fair management of water.

Here are 10 recommendations to promote integrity with a gender perspective:

  • Promote gender budgeting in the water ministry and other institutions as one way of tracking the expenditure of funds on initiatives that are relevant to women, especially poor women.
  • Ensure that projects and programmes, whether public or private, begin with a gender analysis, understanding how labour is divided and valued and disaggregating data by sex.
  • Analyse how activities, decisions and plans affect women differently from men, and boys differently from girls.
  • As part of integrity development, involve women in planning water for livelihoods; they bring a new perspective on the value of water in promoting small-scale enterprises and agriculture that can lift people out of poverty.
  • Understand that hygienic sanitation for women is an issue of safety and dignity, and therefore one of integrity.
  • Provide gender-targeted programmes, involving women as well as men in development projects, including water system infrastructure and operation and maintenance.
  • Raise the understanding of government workers about the negative societal consequences of corruption in the water sector and the impact on women in particular. Train technical and managerial personnel and raise their capacity in gender participation, analysis and methods.
  • Recognize sextortion as a specific form of corruption, in legislation, monitoring and integrity initiatives.
  • Support women’s grass-roots organizations, for example with training in the technical details of water management, to monitor contractors’ work and to be involved in audits of water users’ financial contributions (Muylwijk, 2013).
  • Promote research analysis from a gender perspective on corruption in the water sector.

Better water projects start with open conversations about integrity risks. For International Women’s Day, let’s not ignore the way these risks affect women every day.


Read more in the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016: Water Integrity is a woman’s issue.

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