wH2O: The Journal of Gender and Water: Volume 8, Issue 1

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  • Publication
    Pushing Forward in the Changing Water Sector: An Interview with Kishia L. Powell, COO, DC Water
    (2021-03-05) Drabick, Abigail
    Kishia Powell is a licensed Professional Engineer in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering. Currently, Powell is Chief Operating Officer at DC Water, where she manages 80% of the water authority’s resources. With over 22 years of experience, Kishia Powell sheds light on the value of water, her experience as a leader and a woman in the water utilities industry, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change in this interview with The Journal of Gender and Water. Through her storytelling of challenges, progress, and triumphs, not only do we get a window in Kishia Powell’s career journey, but the water sector as a whole. From the complex conversations about racial equity, access, and affordability in public systems, to infrastructure investment we can see through Powell’s experiences that she, alongside other empowered leaders, are actively addressing these matters and pushing the industry forward.
  • Publication
    Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Participation in Water Supply through Innovative Technology
    (2021-03-05) Winkler, Gillian; Chakravarty, Nisha
    Research from the global development sector repeatedly shows that convenient access to safe water improves women’s quality of life. Similarly, digital technology is increasingly highlighted as an essential component for increasing women’s educational, economic, and civic opportunities—yet a gender divide exists. As digital technology becomes more prevalent in managing effective and reliable safe water services, the water sector has the opportunity to both create new channels for women to engage with technology and use technology to make safe water supply more responsive to women’s needs. In this article, we will explore how technology is deployed within the small water enterprise (SWE) value chain to produce benefits for women beyond immediate safe water access. Using Safe Water Network’s experience in India, where it launched a program with Honeywell Hometown Solutions to center women as safe water suppliers, as well as Saha Global’s program in Ghana, we will highlight how technology advances women’s roles as active participants in the local economy through their responsibilities as SWE managers and operators.
  • Publication
    Contributions of the Women Groups of West Bengal, India for Solving Rural Water Challenges
    (2021-03-05) Das, Mina
    Poor rural communities suffer from many socio-economic issues; however, the availability of clean and safe water is the fundamental challenge amongst all other hindrances confronted by these communities. This article focuses on the non-profit organization, Nishtha (meaning dedication) and their intervention in women empowerment for better water accessibility in rural communities of West Bengal, India. The paper will further highlight the so-called “rural ignorant women’s endeavour” in innovative thought and strategy to protect their own families and the community. The article also discusses Nishtha’s intervention during water crises and disasters using a participatory approach involving women.
  • Publication
    Women Water Leaders in the Making: South Asian Water Leadership Programme on Climate Change
    (2021-03-05) Mondal, Sreenita; Bal Bhargava, Mansee; Robertson, Mélanie
    The South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (Saci- WATERs) a water policy research institute based in Hyderabad, India, launched the South Asian Water (SAWA) Leadership Programme on climate change in 2017. The SaciWATERs is hosting the programme in collaboration with four partner engineering institutes from four South Asian countries, and with funding support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. This academic-oriented programme is aimed at facilitating the creation of a group of interdisciplinary women leaders in South Asia that share a common understanding of the crosscutting scientific and societal issues of water resource management. The four-year (2017-2021) SAWA leadership programme has granted fellowships to 36 fellows that were selected from the partner institutes namely Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka; Nepal Engineering College, Kathmandu; University of Peradeniya, Kandy; and Anna University, Chennai. The programme places emphasis on intensive training in the application of research methods that include gender and social approaches and in leadership skills development through activities such as team-building sessions, application of negotiations and conflict resolution in the field, mentorship and networking. The project also collaborates with governments, NGOs and the private sector to facilitate internships in order to provide an authentic work environment allowing candidates to link their research to actual decisions and applications within the communities with which they are engaging. In addition, it promotes a common understanding of the way social and cultural interpretations of gender intersect with the issues of climate change and water insecurities. It does so not only among the male and female students enrolled in an IWRM master’s programme but also among faculty members, through trainings and common curriculum development across the four engineering institutions. This allows for the development of a broad base of trainers and researchers, both men and women, who will share the leadership programme’s vision.
  • Publication
    Understanding Barriers and Challenges for Women’s Access to Water in Northern Rwanda
    (2021-03-05) Swanson, Megan; Alvarez, Helina; Sample, Amber; Bruyere, Brett
    Clean drinking water and sanitation have been acknowledged as basic human needs and rights by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. According to the UN, water must be sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, and safe in order to meet human needs. In this study, a survey and a Water Source Mapping participatory method were employed to investigate a sample of Rwandan women’s access to water. Two hundred and seven (207) women were surveyed regarding water use and access, and results were compared based on education levels and membership in income-earning cooperatives operated by a local organization, the Gorilla Guardians Village (GGV). In addition, 26 GGV cooperative members completed a Water Source Mapping activity that explored where women collected water and the challenges they faced in doing so. Descriptive analyses indicated that a majority of women reported insufficient water access, regardless of education level and membership in cooperatives. The Water Source Mapping indicated that women primarily use a free, GGV-operated tap for water, although water is not always available at the location due to breakages and other challenges. In those instances, women travel long distances and pay more money to collect water at other locations. The results of the study indicate that women’s access to water remains a challenge, even for women with high levels of education, opportunities to earn income, and access to a nearby water tap. We argue that strategies to provide reliable access to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, and safe water must be thorough, taking into account infrastructure, women’s education, household income and other factors simultaneously to address the entire social-ecological system in which water is accessed in order to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Publication
    Community Effort for Drinking Water Management near India- China border at Jamak Village district Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, India
    (2021-03-05) Gururani, Kamlesh
    In Uttarakhand, drinking water is a major problem and a burning issue for the last decade. Many natural springs that dotted the hillside have been damaged due to the climate conditions and other unplanned or illegal activities such as deforestation and human-made forest fires have affected spring catchments, resulting in reduced discharge from springs. To tackle this major problem of drinking water security, the community of mountain village Jamak, district Uttarkashi came together for community-led drinking water supply by adopting participatory planning and ownership. The village community’s participation and ownership improved the village’s drinking water situation, and villagers are now getting 70 liter of water per person per day. The supplied water is safe for drinking; this has reduced women’s struggle, minimized water-borne diseases, and increased the village community’s level of attention to revive mountain water spring. The genuine participation in critical stages of water supply and ownership of the Water Management Committee in the management of water supply is most significant, and this is also gaining pace for proper functioning of the water supply system.
  • Publication
    Here, There, and Everywhere: The Problem with Microplastics in Water and What Women Scientists Are Doing to Solve It
    (2021-03-05) Lazos, Pamela
    Plastics — ubiquitous material we cannot seem to live without — are everywhere, but sadly we cannot live with plastics either, at least not peaceably, especially when you consider there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish by 2050. In the intervening years, the photodegradation of plastic resulting in microplastics pollution will be an even bigger problem, affecting every living creature in the ocean, and by extrapolation, mankind. The choices we make and the steps we take to combat the overabundance of plastics in our environment will dictate not just the next 30 years, but the fate of the world thereafter. This is not science fiction, but modern life. This article discusses the microplastics problem and some potential solutions.
  • Publication
    Brianna Huber on Women in Leadership, Her2O™, and the Future of Water
    (2021-03-05) staff, wH2O
    Brianna is both the founder/executive director of Her 2O™ and director of Water Filtration at a municipal drinking water utility. She achieves her primary goal of #buildingthefutureofwater by focusing on four important facets of the water industry: women in water, internships & mentoring, smart water & analytics, and emergency management. Her 2O™ is an international 501c3 nonprofit with the vision of women equitably involved in water management in every corner of the globe. This transcript provides an interview with Brianna about her inspirational journey in the water sector.
  • Publication
    Eleanor Allen: On a Mission to Provide Safe Water for Everyone, Forever
    (2021-03-05) staff, wH2O
    Eleanor Allen is a global water expert dedicated to helping millions of people access the safe and sustainable water and sanitation services needed to save lives, stay healthy, earn more money, and thrive. Eleanor is fiercely passionate about improving the state of the world with respect to water and sanitation. She has dedicated her career to this goal, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, then as a consulting engineer (at CH2M/Jacobs and Arcadis), and now as the CEO of Water For People. Eleanor has lived and worked all over the world. As a professional civil engineer, business executive, and CEO, she has led large global and regional operations, managed projects and programs, developed business and raised funds, and designed water and wastewater treatment plants. Eleanor believes that societal change can be accelerated through social entrepreneurship and the efforts of organizations like Water For People. This article tells the story of Eleanor’s inspirational life and career journey, provides technical aspects of her current work, and shares her encouraging message on living life with a purpose to young water enthusiasts.
  • Publication
    Using Participatory Design to Develop a Menstrual Hygiene Management Intervention: Designing WASH UP! Girl Talk in Zimbabwe
    (2021-03-05) Foulds, Kim; Moskowitz, Alyson; Bucuvalas, Abby; Chidavaenzi, Morris; Ndanga, Albert; Sibanda, Silindile; Kagodo, Neckiot; Mvere, Charity; Mlotshwa, Nobuhle; Hynes, Peter; Schmitt, Margaret L.; Carney, Allie
    Globally, as more girls transition from primary to secondary education, there is a new generation of girls who will have to manage their menses in school environments. Few schools are designed with girls’ menstrual hygiene management (MHM) needs in mind and many girls begin menstruating without knowing what is happening to them. This lack of knowledge about menstruation is associated with profound psychological and reproductive health issues. As such, school-based WASH interventions, especially those focused on MHM, can improve educational opportunities, promote lifelong health, and enhance the wellbeing of children and their families. In Zimbabwe, these global realities hold true, where menstruation is a taboo subject and girls find it difficult to access accurate information and are unable to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically, and with dignity and privacy. An effective solution to these challenges must address school infrastructure concerns and limitations in knowledge, attitudes, and practices around MHM. In response, Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with World Vision, launched WASH UP! Girl Talk in Zimbabwe, targeting students 10-14 years old. Girl Talk involved the development and implementation of an intervention aimed at improving students’ knowledge and practice of healthy hygiene behaviors. Girl Talk also focused on increasing girls’ confidence in their personal MHM. This article highlights the development of Girl Talk and its focus on participatory design to standardize a curriculum framework, implementation process, and research approach to contextualize education content. This process of program design, grounded in the intersections of best practices and local knowledge, provides both a conceptual and practical framework to inform future MHM interventions.