08 March 2023 / Vienna, Austria
International Women's Day, 8 March: Count us in!
Contributed by:
Voice of the Danube
07 March 2023

8 March, the world celebrates the International Women's Day 2023. This is less an occasion for throwing parties, rather a moment für introspection, discussion, networking and pledging mutual support. The IAWD joins the celebration, and with very good reasons.

It started as a trickle, now it's a flow: Female managers, engineers and frontline workers enter the scene, demanding equal opportunity, equal pay and equal respect. For the water sector, this is a weighty issue: Utilities in many parts of the world are faced with recruiting problems and here is a widely untapped reservoir of qualified future staff. The report "Women in Water Utilities: Breaking Barriers" shows that only 18 percent of water utility workers are female. Yet, women who consider careers in the water sector still face hurdles like biased hiring processes, inadequate family-friendly policies and reduced training opportunities.

The IAWD has teamed up with Equal Aqua (EA), a collaborative platform 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. Equal Aqua 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 and aiming at providing utilities and water organizations with human resource tools to boost female recruitment, retention, and promotion in water sector jobs.

After years of informal collaboration, IAWD officially joined Equal Aqua on International Women's day 2022, exactly one year ago. Activities are manifold: In the context of the Danube Water Program, 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. The next edition of the popular KnowNow webinar series will explore Diversity, Workforce and Equality in the region's water sector, and the Danube Water Conference 2023 will also dedicate part of its program to this topic.

Those interested in this theme are also invited to take a look at the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance SuSanA, an informal network of partners and individual members who share a common vision on sustainable sanitation and who want to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG6. As a warmup to International Women's day it held a virtual interactive event on 7 March, offering five sessions, four of those “women only”, inviting students, professionals and employers to explore challenges along the different stages of a woman’s career: attraction, recruitment, retention, and advancement.

The flow is on. Hopefully it will soon be a flood. Happy 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.

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is an informal network of organisations with a common vision on sustainable sanitation. We provide a platform for knowledge exchange, networking and discussion on all sustainable sanitation topics.