03 March 2022 / Vienna, Austria
Celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March: IAWD joins Equal Aqua!
Contributed by:
Voice of the Danube
07 March 2022

8 March we celebrate International Women's Day 2022. For the water sector, this is more relevant than one might think. There is even an international collaborative platform dealing with gender diversity and inclusion here: Equal Aqua. And for more than one good reason, IAWD joins this initiative.

The Equal Aqua (EA) is a collaborative platform that promotes the dialogue on gender diversity and inclusion in water sector jobs. It connects utilities, associations, local and international organizations, academia and the private sector, benchmarking gender inclusion in water organizations.

Equal Aqua was established by the World Bank’s Water Global Practice, with the support of Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) and in collaboration with external partners. It aims at providing utilities and water organizations with human resource tools and approaches the framework, diagnostic tools and processes to boost female recruitment, retention, and promotion in water sector jobs.

It supports women working in the water sector by providing a space where female engineers, managers, and other water workers can find information, training opportunities and tools to help them advance in their careers.

This is a weighty issue, not only because what's fair is fair: Utilities in many parts of the world are faced with recruiting problems and should look at this often untapped reservoir of qualified future staff with serious interest. As documented in the Women in Water Utilities: Breaking Barriers report, only 18 percent of water utility workers are female. Women still face barriers to starting and advancing their careers in the water sector, including biases in the hiring process, inadequate family-friendly policies and reduced training opportunities.

It is time to change that, and Equal Aqua provides the necessary tools. Officially joining Equal Aqua on 8 March 2022, the IAWD does by no means plunge into untested waters: The Voice of the Danube community has long supported the aims of this platform.

During a pilot study in 2018, the Danube Water Program and the World Bank Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership collaborated with three pioneering utilities in the Danube region to explore gender equality in their workplaces. The study group assessed gender balance, career-related policies and practices, cultural inclusivity and paycheck equality, later presenting the results in a webinar, together with recommendations on actions that utilities could take to enhance gender equality in their workforces.

In the context of the DWP, IAWD and the World Bank have introduced a specific indicator to monitor female participation in IAWD (co)organised events like the Danube Water Conference, Danube Water Forum, DWP KnowNow webinars and others, usually registering a good gender balance of almost 50/50.

IAWD has also introduced a scholarship for UMT supporting female talents, and are currently preparing a webinar to highlight best practice examples of female engagement in the water sector in the Danube region.

So stay tuned für more equality news and meanwhile, please turn to the links below for more in-depth information. We wish you a truly inspiring and successful International Women's Day !

Equal Aqua: Inclusive Water Institutions Platform

The Inclusive Water Institutions (IWI) is a collaborative platform that aims to facilitate and deepen the dialogue on gender diversity and inclusion in water sector jobs by connecting utilities, associations, the private sector, academia and various organizations.