African Young Water Professionals Forum – 6th edition: continuing the commitment to empower tomorrow’s Leaders in Sustainable Water and Agriculture

The 6th African Young Water Professionals Forum by GWP-Med, the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) and partners organised under the platform of the 6th Cairo Water Week highlighted the urgent need to integrate a gender lens into all initiatives on water, climate and development, for sustainable investments.

For the 6th time in a row, GWP-Med joined forces with the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) and partners, for the organisation of the 6th edition of the African Young Water Professionals Forum, an international platform for African young irrigation and drainage professionals with more than 10400 members. The Forum took place virtually on 30 October-1 November 2023 under the platform of the 6th Cairo Water Week.

Within this framework, GWP-Med held a dedicated session on October 30th on the theme of Gender Today for the Leader of Tomorrow in Sustainable Water & Agriculture Management. The session spotlighted the critical role of gender-transformative approaches (GTA) and youth engagement in the realm of water management and smart irrigation systems, benefitting from the findings of the Water, Climate, Development, and Gender Investments (WACDEP-G) project implemented within the framework of the African Water Investment Programme (AIP). The discussions highlighted the urgent need to integrate a gender lens into all initiatives on water, climate and development, for sustainable investments.

The session comprised different segments, all advocating for the need for greater focus on gender:

Understanding the Gender Transformative Approach (GTA):

The session started with a brief overview of GTA that emphasized its transformative potential and offered a compelling and captivating story, showcasing how integrating gender-transformative approaches is not just advantageous but essential in steering water management towards a more equitable and sustainable future.

Presentation on AIP WACDEP-G (Water, Climate and Development Programme - Gender):

The second part delved into the significance of the gender perspective within water, climate, and development initiatives. It underscored the imperative of promoting women's participation and leadership while enhancing capacities for integrating gender equality into public policies and programs. A presentation was made of the main outputs of the project and the findings of the technical work. 

Mentimeter Interactive Discussions:

The session continued by engaging participants in interactive discussions through questions to identify how they can integrate GTA into their respective fields or projects. The emphasis was on practical applications in smart irrigation and youth engagement, underlining the cross-cutting nature of GTA across diverse sectors.

GWP Gender Community of Practice (CoP) - Youth Engagement:

Further on, the GWP Community of Practice (CoP) on Gender and Water Resources Management was introduced, highlighting the importance of gender perspectives in all facets of water management. Emphasis was placed on youth involvement in addressing gender issues, culminating in the relaunch of the CoP and the related planned webinar on November 7th.

Presentation on Smart Irrigation Systems - GEMWET Project:

The GEMWET project spotlighted the use of ICT systems in smart irrigation, advocating for optimized water usage and sustainable agriculture. Discussions revolved around the evolution of smart irrigation systems and the role of young and female farmers, emphasizing the need for gender considerations in technology access and productivity enhancement. The launching of a new phase in this line of work, with emphasis on the adoption of a Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus approach, was announced with support provided by the Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The event was brought to a closure with a short summary from the session’s segments, encouraging the continued involvement of the Young Professionals through the GWP CoP and future events. Through the presentations, discussions and range of information, the session aimed to spark the desire of tomorrow's leaders to steer their work towards gender-inclusive and innovative sustainable water and agriculture management.