In the Community, women meet to talk about their experiences, ask questions, and learn from one another. This increases their professional impact by building their capacity and developing skills to be more effective. CWiW’s aim is to enable women to thrive and grow in their water-related careers.
The network currently consists of 400+ professional women from around the world, joining CWiW through their LinkedIn community and monthly events and newsletters. Any woman working on or studying water issues can join CWiW; membership is free.
CWiW Founder Kathryn Pharr says: “I had heard from a number of female colleagues over the years that they wanted a way to connect with other women in the water sector. Some of them were the only woman on their team, so in 2019 I founded the Community of Women in Water. Moving to a virtual platform for our 2020 events has been a gamechanger; suddenly women who for financial and/or personal reasons cannot attend after hours events or travel to international conferences are able to take an hour to connect online with other women working on water issues—and not just locally: all over the world. At every event I see a few faces having a ‘lightbulb’ moment of realizing they are not alone, that others are facing similar challenges. Not all of those challenges are gender-based, of course; the cross-disciplinary aspect of the group is equally important. Members connect with each other after events for informal mentorship and networking, which is what makes the Community vibrant and robust.”
According to the World Bank, water sector projects that included women were at least six times more effective than those that did not. But by 2014, women made up just 17 percent of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) labour force on average and were a fraction of managers.
GWP Senior Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist Liza Debevec says: “CWiW is unique in that it creates a space for women working in all areas of the water sector, from practitioners and researchers to water experts working in NGOs and in government institutions. Women colleagues from the GWP Secretariat, and regional and country water partnerships and network partners, have expressed a need for such a space where the focus is on building the women networks and creating opportunities to share the amazing knowledge held by women working in the water world. I have had the pleasure to exchange with many amazing women colleagues since joining CWiW and I felt that with our partnership we could provide an additional mobilization push to spread the word and bring colleagues from every corner of the globe. I was pleased to see many new members from across the globe join the monthly Zoom ‘Learn and Share’ event, having sent an invitation to our global GWP network of partners.”
Pharr responds: “We are pleased to be formally partnering with GWP. The partnership is ensuring that CWiW can offer regular activities that have become critical to members and to ensure that CWiW can reach those who want to join. With its networks of water experts around the globe, GWP is perfectly positioned to help CWiW expand to reach women working on water issues, particularly in the Global South. In just the first month of this partnership, we already have 100 new members through GWP’s network. Those interested in membership can learn more on our Get Involved page.”
Top photo: Capacity building event for women, by GWP Central America.