Gender relations are critical to nearly every aspect of rural water supply : All water supply programmes affect men and women in different ways, and while practitioners assume their work will benefit women; how do they know whether it will or not, how do they know what impact it will have? Some of the key factors that influence men and women’s differing experiences of water are:

  • how daily roles and responsibilities are divided between women and men;
  • the distribution of paid and unpaid labour between women and men;
  • the tensions between domestic and economic uses of water, and how this affects women and men;
  • Who has most influence on decisions and design of services:
  • How water services can support the long term development aims (empowerment) as well as the immediate practical needs of women and men.

This topic promotes discussion and sharing about how to design water supply programmes that intentionally empower women, contributing to their long term strategic development.


Aim by 2030 (end of SDG period): Water supply programmes systematically include investment to empower women and promote gender equality

Aim by 2023 (end of RWSN strategy period): Gender equality is applied across all themes in a practical and coordinated manner, with a focus on addressing the unequal distribution of unpaid work, access to water assets, and empowering women to have more influence on decisions about water.

More experience and analysis about how to use water supply interventions to promote women’s rights.

Activities planned 2018-2020:

  • Knowledge sharing and networking:
    • Webinars (English/French)
    • E-discussion in RWSN community
    • Promote guidance and tools
    • updates through Secretariat services
  • Inspiring and embedding:RWSN members and member organisations are inspired by others to identify, implement and monitor investments to empower women and young girls, and promote gender equality

Key Publications

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