Women at the forefront: A wrap up of our virtual World Water Day event

A screenshot of the panel members during the open forum discussion during this event

Water leaders from Australia and Pacific during the open forum discussion with audience Q&A during the event.


We were thrilled to be joined by so many impressive water leaders for our virtual event, Women at the Forefront: Valuing diverse voices, leadership and action on SDG6 on World Water Day - 22nd March, 2023. The energetic event was scheduled so that we could be joined by participants from across the Asia-Pacific region as well as delegates in New York on the eve of attending the United Nations (UN) Water 2023 Conference  in New York. With this year’s theme for World Water Day being ‘accelerating change’ to solve the water and sanitation challenges facing many communities around the world, this discussion was not only timely, but critical. 


"Achieving clean water and sanitation for all (SDG 6) is critical for the health, wellbeing and resilience of every individual, community and society. How can people work, eat and live safely without access to clean water and sanitation? This goes to the very heart of resilience, in terms of community, but also in terms of climate."

Dr Alison Baker, Fund Manager, Water for Women


For those who missed the event (and those who enjoyed it so much, they want to re-watch it), below we share a wrap up of what was covered, the event recording, Yumi Stori's and resources that were shared along with our own call to action, 'What will you do to support women's leadership in water and WASH?'


Access the presentation

View highlights on Twitter


Watch the recording



The event heard from a range of fantastic speakers in the form of short 'Yumi Stori' discussions and an Open Forum at the end of the event. A Yumi Stori is an invitation to share stories and perspectives on topics of interest, a reflective discussion between people.

Each Yumi Stori is available to watch below if you don't have time to watch the full recording.


Key reflections

Navara Kiene, WaterAid's Country Director of Programs in Papua New Guinea joined us from New York to provide closing remarks and outline key reflections and actions from the five Yumi Stori discussions.

  • The Systems strengthening perspective - A key strategy for accelerating change towards increased WASH access for the achievement of SDG 6 is the institutionalisation of WASH within government structures.

  • Women’s voices are important in decision-making for WASH including at the leadership level because of their lived experience as women and girls and their WASH focused roles in households and communities
  • The human rights perspective - WASH projects need to address the social discrimination of marginalised people (women, girls, children, gender and sexual diverse people, people with disabilities) and address gaps in gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI). This should be made a top priority for Pacific Island nations and needs to be encouraged from the top down
  • The ecological perspective - Water is not a luxury’ – it is a basic human right. Women, young girls and people with disabilities, are the most vulnerable to the consequences caused by the absence of clean drinking water, particularly in rural communities. Communities need to be actively supported to look after their rivers and keep them clean. As rivers can  become polluted from upstream activities,
    inter-community dialogue is essential in this process.

  • The Land rights perspective - Women need to be working with men at the forefront to manage natural resources better. This is critical to improving water security. Women need to be included in water conversations starting from the family unit up to national water policy and planning discussions. Managing conflict about land rights and supporting social cohesion is central to better resource management and water security.

  • The Indigenous knowledge perspective - The rich knowledge of Indigenous women can and should be utilised to better inform the types of water quality infrastructure appropriate for the context people live in. Water practitioners need to remember that women are educators – they are central to the preservation of traditional knowledge from one generation to the next. Because of this, communities need to practice “rematriation” of their waterways to strengthen water stewardship.


To accelerate the implementation of SDG6 by 2030,
we must:

  • Accelerate social norms change

  • Accelerate gender equality

  • Accelerate systems change


Read more 

Accelerating action for equality - World Water Day 2023



A blue graphic with a title and QR Code to promote a 'Transformative WASH for climate resilience toolkit'

 During the event we launched our Transformative WASH for Climate Resilience Toolkit, a collection of key resources for water and WASH practitioners that can help practitioners deliver transformative WASH programming with an explicit focus on supporting local communities and institutions to shift harmful norms that exclude the diverse voices of women, people with disabilities and marginalised groups. 


Yumi stori's with water leaders

The Hon Kessy William Sawang 

MP for Rai Coast and the Vice Minister for Trade and Industry




Noelene Nabulivou

Executive Director, DIVA for Equality, Fiji

interviewed by

Tema Wickham

WASH Project Manager, Plan International, Solomon Islands


Ursula Rakova 

Community Leader, Tulele Peisa Inc, Bougainville, PNG 

interviewed by

Lucía Gamarra

Senior Partnerships and Impact Officer, Australian Water Partnership



Dr Lilly Sar

Agricultural Scientist and Director for the Centre for Social and Creative Media at The University of Goroka, specialising in farmer learning

interviewed by

Prof. Juliet Willetts

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney 


Principal Researcher Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology, Sydney

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney 

Phil Duncan

Senior Aboriginal Water Consultant, Alluvium 

interviewed by

Michael Wilson

Group CEO, eWater 




A call to action

The event concluded with a call to action for participants. Some great responses highlighted below. Thanks to all who joined us for this excellent start to World Water Day.   

Mentimeter responses to the call to action: What will you do to support women's leadership in water and WASH?
Mentimeter responses to the call to action: What will you do to support women's leadership in water and WASH?
Mentimeter responses to the call to action: What will you do to support women's leadership in water and WASH?
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