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Minister, African women fight for women leadership in WASH

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah
Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah

The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah has joined African women in the water sector to advocate for more women to take charge and lead the decision-making process in the water sector.

The advocacy is for women to take up leadership roles as Minister in charge of the water sector, water scientists, heads of water and water related institutions through effective succession planning and mentoring and coaching of young women.

Ms Dapaah was speaking during a pre-conference Webinar for the forum of professional women networks on the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in preparation for the ninth World Water Forum (WWF) to be held in Darkar, Senegal in March 2022.

The virtual meeting was on the theme “repositioning women: Vital in attainment of SDG 6,” and was organised by the African Water Association (AfWA), a professional association of institutions, companies and operators in the water, sanitation and environment sector in Africa.

AfWA works among others to ensure coordinated action for knowledge acquisition and improvement in the field of water production and distribution, and sanitation management.

Challenges

She explained that the advocacy for women to take up management and decision marking roles in the water sector was not to usurp the roles of men on the sector “but men can work with women to make the sector better. We can make a change with a little help from our men.”

Ms Dapaah said women could also take up behavioral change roles and research in the waster sector since they were naturally good in such fields were the main users of water but faces number of challenges on accessing water.

She urged women in leadership positions in the sector to encourage more women to “climb up.”

He said the 2019 World Bank group report indicated that the water sector was dominated by men especially in the technical fields while women face barriers in accessing water.

She was hopeful that the upcoming WWF meeting would help bridge the gap.

“We appreciate the roles and support of men. We call on the private sector, Civil Society Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations to support women to aspire higher positions in the water sector,” she said.

Availability

A lecturer at the Institute of Water Studies University of Western Cape Town South Africa, Prof Jackie King said there was the need to pay persistent attention to the sources of water and the ecosystem that provide water to ensure availability and sustainability of water.

She said Africa had a worth of women working in the water sector working and that awareness on the need for more women to take up leadership roles in the sector was growing slowing and was hopeful the WWF would speed it up.

“These women are brave and technically good and also believe in the need for sustainability of water,” she said.

Dr King highlighted the need to look beyond volumes and quality and look at sustainable and availability of water.

She also urged stakeholder to be concerned not only about water grabbing issues but also focus on water stewardship.

Objective

The online women’s forum was a platform for publicizing some of the activities being undertaken by some women entrepreneurs in WASH as well as highlight the need for women to actively participate in the upcoming WWF.

The webinar provided the platform to discuss preparations made so far towards the WWF and assign various roles and responsibilities to the various Women’s networks and conveners.

At the end of the meeting the participants developed the final draft programme outline of activities to be undertaken by the women networks and partners during the WWF.

They also identified projects to be showcased during the WWF and identified women moderators, presenters, panel members, or exhibiters for the WWF.