Women play critical roles in all aspects of water governance, yet they are visibly missing from the water dialogue. Examples of women as decision makers, water managers, effective water users and stewards are very hard to come by. Through the #WaterWomen photo contest we collected images that illustrate these important roles and tell the stories of women as invaluable water managers, decision makers and users. Now, we want to help women raise their voices through the #WaterWomen speakers directory.

Promote these important roles by encouraging the #WaterWomen in your life to sign up for the Directory and by sharing photos of inspiring #WaterWomen from our gallery!

Raising women’s voices at World Water Week

Women play critical roles in all aspects of water governance yet too often their experiences, insights and perspectives are not heard.

Women are often missing or poorly represented in conference panels, limiting their ability to be recognized as capable decision makers.  

SIWI’s ambition for World Water Week is to create a conference that has equal professional representation by both women and men. That’s why in 2016 we introduced the “Gold Standard” to promote more balanced representation in all World Water Week sessions.

This year, we’re going a step further to help convenors connect with experienced female speakers through the #WaterWomen speakers directory. Here, female water professionals can list themselves as available for speaking engagements at World Water Week.

Are you a female water professional interested in speaking at World Water Week? Join the #WaterWomen speakers directory today! CLICK HERE to join

Are you a convenor looking for female content experts? Click here to download the Directory.

Raise your voice and help promote women everywhere

The best way for you to get involved is to help promote the women in your life! Here are 3 easy things you can do:

  1. Encourage female water professionals that you know to register for the #WaterWomen speakers directory. Share this link via email, text or social media: siwi.org/wwdirectory
  2. Use social media to share images, messages and words of encouragement to female water actors everywhere using #WaterWomen
  3. Share some inspiration! Browse the #WaterWomen gallery and share the stories and images of water women that inspire you! 

And be sure to tag SIWI in your twitter and Facebook posts, so we can share. 
Twitter: @SIWI_water
Facebook: @SIWIwater
Instagram: @SIWI_water


A water wise world requires equitable inclusion of women as decision makers, managers and users.

Participation in water governance:

Equitable participation in water governance is fundamental for promoting poverty eradication and sustainable development. Experience shows that water projects gain efficiency and sustainability when both men and women are involved in decision-making, supervision and provision of water. And yet, women are often missing from water governance and management processes. Particularly in international water negotiations, where women are greatly underrepresented or simply absent.

SIWI’s vision of a water wise world is predicated on the equitable inclusion of women as decision makers, managers and users.

Women are capable decision makers:

Part of the reason that we see few women at the decision making table, or viewed as important actors, is that many people still believe that women are lack these abilities.

At SIWI, we know that women form a critical part of well informed decision making. We believe that the world must move away from seeing women as solely victims and users of water, and move towards seeing and depicting women as capable decision makers. 

In order to support this effort, SIWI ran a photo contest to generate and promote images of women as decision makers, water managers, effective water users and stewards. 

Regarding #WaterWomen ? Please contact us.
As women and girls are those most adversely affected by water related issues, the consideration of gender in SIWI's work ensures greater focus on the most vulnerable. Working with women’s and men’s attitudinal beliefs is important to ensure equitable rebalancing of rights and societal roles.

What is Gender?

Gender is defined as the roles ascribed to men and women based on cultural and social norms and values. Gender roles are dynamic; they change over time and vary based on location and cultural context. Gender equality means that all men and women, boys and girls, and transgender people have access to the same opportunities and resources. Gender is not the same thing as sex, which is defined biologically. 

Gender mainstreaming is the process of ensuring that women and men have equal access and control over resources, development benefits and decision-making, at all stages of the development process including projects, programmes and policy.

How We Work

Gender inequality can result in participation in programme work being unrepresentative of all water users, managers and stakeholders. Hence, project objectives and activities may be created without the full needs of the target communities in mind, leading to insufficient and unsustainable impacts.

SIWI therefore encourages the integration of gender tools in projects and looks for opportunities to contribute to overcome gender inequality in relation to the water sector. SIWI is also involved in ongoing internal capacity building in this area.


SIWI proactively promotes gender equality in all its work, including:

  • Supported 11 development programmes for increased economic and democratic governance in the water and sanitation sector through a knowledge management initiative.
  • Based on this work, carried out a study on the programmes’ challenges and best practices from working with gender mainstreaming in water governance projects.
  • Collaboration with UNESCO on the promotion of gender-disaggregated indicators and gender sensitive methodology for the World Water Assessment Programme. The institution also supported the development of a toolkit on Gender, Violence and WASH.
  • Supported the first Gender and Water conference, hosted by the Water Research Commission in South Africa in 2014. Actively contributing to the programme, SIWI sponsored delegates and sought new opportunities and partnerships through which to develop and extend gender work within water and environmental field.

For more information on gender issues, please contact Kanika Thankar.

The world’s most prestigious water award, Stockholm Water Prize, honours women, men and organizations whose work contributes to the conservation and protection of water resources, and to the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.

The Stockholm Water Prize is an international water award presented annually since 1991 by the Stockholm Water Foundation. The prize has been established to honour outstanding achievements in the sustainable use and protection of the world’s water resources.

Since its inception, the prize has been selected by the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee from a pool of professionals nominated by their peers. We welcome nominations from all parts of the world and strongly encourage the nomination of female candidates

Help us find more outstanding women to recognize by nominating your water champions today! For full details please visit www.siwi.org/nominate.

Learn more about our female laureates by clicking below. 

2016 Stockholm Water Prize 
Prof. Joan Rose, Michigan State University, United States

2010 Stockholm Water Prize
Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, United States

2005 Stockholm Water Prize
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) New Delhi, India, under the directorship of Ms. Sunita Narain