The access to sufficient, safe and affordable water is a basic human right. It calls for governments, institutions, corporations and public and private organizations involved in the water sector to eliminate various forms of discrimination in the access, management and decision‐making processes involving water resources.
Within the framework of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, UNESCO has established five Chairs seeking to promote the engagement of women in sustainable development and water resource management. These Chairs integrate the UNESCO Water Family, consisting of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), water‐related Centers’, the UNESCO‐IHE Institute for Water Education, the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), and a total of 35 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks.
Located in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Togo and the Dominican Republic, the Chairs are based in institutions of research and higher education, working actively to develop human resources, build solutions, and share scientific and practical knowledge. They work in partnership with other academic institutions, as well as public and private organizations. They also pave the way for the research and higher education communities to join forces with UNESCO in an effort to achieve internationally agreed Development Goals and targets. With a high appreciation for the Chairs’ great potential for impact, IHP has strongly encouraged their projects and initiatives, as well their involvement in other focal areas of the Eighth Phase of IHP, in order to strengthen water security, enhance tertiary and technical water education and respond to the needs of communities, with a special focus on women’s needs.
With their inception in 2006, the UNESCO Chairs on Water and Gender have built a remarkable combination of knowledge and experience in their area of expertise. Through their actions, the Chairs have successfully fostered cooperation and exchange of information among different institutions of higher education; conducted research and training activities on gender‐related issues, water and natural sciences; established networks between professionals, governmental, non‐governmental and private organizations; created new approaches to deal with the water‐related needs of local communities and succeeded in increasing participation, leadership and the role of women in the water sector.
As a general goal, the Chairs strive to enhance women’s capacities through motivation, engagement, development of skills and education. They have been active in organizing learning courses, training sessions, workshops, conferences and a diverse range of research and community projects. The following pages present a detailed overview of the five Chairs and their goals, activities, and initiatives.