Women Leadership in Water Management


Soroptimist International of Europe, as part of the Women for Water Partnership, co-organized a pre-conference in Marseille, France in preparation for the 6th World Water Forum. During this two day conference, the weekend before the World Water Forum started, women from different women’s networks had the opportunity to exchange their knowledge and ideas as well as come up with joint messages to propose to the Forum.

This Forum was seen as particularly crucial as it also prepared for Rio+20. For this reason, the messages  the women’s groups proposed were for the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development as well as the Forum. The overall theme of the pre-conference was 'Women Leadership in Water'. Three priority themes were tackled as part of this topic:

  1. Women’s role in water and food security;
  2. Community water supply and sanitation;
  3. Water, peace and security.

Click here to read the background paper.


 Ministers, water professionals, women’s civil society organizations and young professionals all presented their Best Practices on each of the topics.

The motto of this year’s World Water Forum was “time for solutions”. The focus on all levels has been implementation and action as opposed to just dialogue. Here are some of the key messages and solutions that were concluded from the pre-conference:

  • Let us move from talking to action

Solution: MDG 9 – Half by the year 2015 all water and development related fora and conferences. Put all the money that is saved into a Women and Water Development Fund.

  • Needs-based approach! We know the what, involve us in the how!

Solution: Move from consultation to participation. Put women’s civil society groups at the centre of needs assessment process.

  • Empower women to play central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water!

Solution: Empower women through water and sanitation and they will move on to integrated community development.

  • Sustainability of water / sanitation provision and management is a social issue, not a technical issue!

Solution: Organize local community involvement and use existing civil society mechanism as a network.

  •  Involve us as opportunities for rapid change! Promote women’s leadership!

Solution: Give women access to knowledge and resources to make informed decisions and be leaders in their own communities’ development.

  • Dare to let go and delegate responsibility to local level!

Solution: Women hold the keys to their community’s development.

  • In times of crisis, put your money where your mouth is!

Solution: Fund locally owned successful projects that have potential of up-scaling to ensure sustainability.

  • From policies to implementation, the principal actors change!

Solution: 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation. Take us on board to accelerate and meet the water-related internationally agreed development goals.


These messages and solutions were prominently presented on a catwalk during the High Level Special session during the World Water Forum where Ministers of Environment of Uganda and South Africa, Ambassador of Green Cross, USAID Head of mission and Mayor of Bangangte in Cameroon spoke. The High Level Session received a lot of media attention and attracted large number of participants.

Report from Suba Parthiban

SIE Programme Executive


Like this page? Share it!


Welcome to the on line world of Soroptimist International! This section will connect you to the global community of SI.  For Soroptimists, log in to the club members section for more resources and use on line reporting to tell us about your projects! #SImakingchange #SIadvocates