International Women’s Day 2013
Today is International Women’s Day.
To be honest, this day is nothing special to us. That does not mean that we do not care about the need for gender equality, but rather that we care about it every day of the year. Not just us though, it is the same for the whole of the international water (and development) sector. We, as do most of our counterpart organisations, require that at least 1 of the 3 key positions of responsibility on any Water Users Committee (elected from community to maintain and manage water source) is held by a woman to ensure proper representation. It is not something we make a song and dance about, it is just fair and pragmatic.
Women are key to the process of increasing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. They are the drivers of change.
This is partly because it is upon women and girls that the duty of water collection falls upon and it is girls who drop out of school at the onset of puberty due to stigmatisation caused by, among other things, lack of separate and private sanitation facilities.
It is also partly because they are the proactive ones. Today we salute various remarkable women taking the lead in their communities.
Our Project Area Managers
Three of our five project area managers are women; Agnes, Loy and Marije. All three are skilled project managers who excel in an area traditionally held as being male orientated.
Agnes leads our microfinance sanitation project, funded by UN Habitat, in Bugembe. Here she has developed a programme through intelligent leadership and strength of character to the point where we are seeing good repayment rates and second phase loans being taken out.
Loy manages our Good Governance project in Kaliro, funded by Danida, having previously managed our district level programme in Mpigi (where we were the local implementing partner for WaterAid). Now her day to day role involves inspiring communities to hold their leaders to account, to demand the services which are their basic right. Thus far she has mobilised thousands and several communities now have been provided with water sources by local government.
Marije manages our project in Masindi for our partner The Water Trust. As we finish our five year initial contract and they establish themselves in Uganda in their own right to take over the running of the project, she has continued to deliver a high rate of productivity, including increasing her project’s emphasis on sanitation and managing the changeover from one organisation to another.
Our Community Partners
We work with some remarkable groups, such as Bibbo Women’s Group in Luwero, who work as a cooperative to build rainwater catchment tanks with our help. They have been trained and now train others in water tank construction and are gradually supplying the community with household rainwater catchment tanks, along with passing that knowledge on to others. They are an inspiring group and it is a pleasure to work with them.
So we are happy to celebrate International Women’s Day as a way of highlighting how important gender equality is to all aspects of global development, but let’s not forget that one day of frantic twitter #IWD activity (yes, we are guilty of this also) should not appease us in our duty to remember the importance of exclusivity all year round.
To learn more about Gender and its connection to water, sanitation and hygiene, follow this link