Note from World Water Week Conference on the critical role women play in securing access to WASH services- Christian Holmes, USAID Global Water Coordinator
Today at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, I had the privilege of opening and moderating an exceptionally important session focused on “Do Rights-based Policies Enhance Women’s Leadership and Contribute to Sustainable WASH Outcomes: Taking Stock and Moving Forward.”
We tackled the added-value of rights-based policies in order to enhance women’s leadership and contribute to sustainable WASH outcomes in a seminar jointly organized by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Freshwater Action Network (FAN), U.S. Department of State, WASH Advocacy Initiative, and WaterLex. The discussion centered on 4 key topics:
- Best practices around equity and inclusion;
- Women’s leadership in sustainable WASH programming and policy development;
- Rights-based standards and M&E in WASH management; and
- Citizen service engagement
Achieving sustainable access to affordable and appropriate water and sanitation services for all, including the poorest and most marginalized, remains a major challenge for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.
In my opening comments, I stressed the critical role women play in securing access to WASH services. I stressed that it is time to support and enhance the capacity of women to develop and lead the implementation of water and sanitation solutions; women have the right to participate equally in decision- making within their communities to help address these needs.
Session presenters included:
- Hilda Coelho, Freshwater Action Network (FAN) Representative and President of CRSD in India;
- Hélène Boussard, Research Coordinator on Water Governance for WaterLex;
- Mary Ann Brocklesby and Sheena Crawford; and
- Kate Harawa, Country Director for Water For People, Malawi
Concluding the seminar, Sanjay Wijesekera, Team Leader for WASH at DFID, called on all participants to move evidence into practice. He said, “Rights-based approaches have been successfully deployed to drive change and accelerate progress on the WASH Millennium Development Goal targets. However, to use such approaches effectively, we need to ensure that the legal and policy frameworks are harmonized with human rights commitments, and that we document systematically these experiences.”
I strongly recommend reviewing the presentations made at the session.