Water & Gender

International Workshop, Pisa January 28-31, 2025

 Submit your abstract by June 16, 2024 (extended)

Call for abstracts opened until June 16th, 2024 (Registration & Venue Page; Abstract Submission Form)

Despite advances made through international policy agendas in acknowledging the need to progress towards gender equality in water – and the resulting benefits – large gender inequalities persist in practice. In many parts of the world, women remain under-represented in terms of participation at all levels, from institutional bodies that manage national or transboundary waters, to water-related institutions such as governmental water agencies and water utilities, as well as from local water management institutions.

In other words, international policy discourses favour gender equality and decision-making, however, actual practices still result in unequal access and unbalanced power relations. Meanwhile, conceptual contributions to advancing understanding on this wedge appear to be stagnant.

And yet there are women—as leaders, scientists, researchers, and practitioners—who have been contributing to and promoting knowledge generation, evidence-based action, and the paving of the way to more equal and meaningful participation in diverse water disciplines.

These contradictions raise the following important questions: 

  • What is holding progress back?
  •  How are academics, practitioners and policymakers interacting or what is preventing more constructive interactions?
  • What can we do better?

To this end, in 2021, UNESCO WWAP together with a Multi-stakeholder Coalition launched a global Call for Action to accelerate gender equality in the water domain. Set to culminate in 2030 with the completion date of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the Initiative aims to:

  •  Accelerate access to water resources and services, in an inclusive and sustainable manner for all to accelerate progress towards SDG 6 targets;
  • Prioritize programmes and investments in systems and social norms changes for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the water domain by 2030

The Global Multi-stakeholder Coalition forms a wide-scale community of action that multiplies the members’ individual efforts and provides ample visibility. It consists of -among others- 23 Member States, and more than 160 individual members from over 60 institutions, including international and regional organizations, funding agencies and ODAs, international and local NGOs, private sector, civil society, foundations and academia.

 As part of these efforts, UNESCO WWAP and the University of Pisa are organizing this International Workshop on Water and Gender with the goal of addressing the need for robust conceptual contributions and intersectoral discussions. The event will bring together water and gender scientists, governmental institutions, and practitioners.

The International Workshop will be organized under the concrete actions agreed by the Multi-stakeholder Coalition, in line with the commitments made during the UN 2023 Water Conference of New York.

Additionally, the theme of the 2026 World Water Development Report will address the intersection of two global priorities: the situation of water resources and the need to make decisive progress towards closing the gender gap in the water. Consequently, the International Workshop will also profile discussion and the collection of relevant and sound content related to existing and emergent challenges to gender equality in water. This will be achieved by drawing on a range of examples, in particular from low- and middle-income country contexts, but also by taking into account that some of these challenges also affect women in high-income countries.