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Promoting diversity and supporting women in decision-making processes

A key challenge for gender integration within the areas of water science and water governance is the lack of gender balance in institutions. This is a concern within both developed and developing countries. Whilst the inclusion of women does not automatically translate into gender sensitive scientific analysis and planning, having a more balanced gender ratio of male and female staff is a starting step towards gender equality and diversity.

Within the SDIP, we have been working with partners in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to increase diversity (with emphasis on women, as well as early to mid-career staff) in the trainees who attend capacity-building workshops. As part of this work, CSIRO has been providing mentoring and support to female hydrologists in Pakistan, Nepal and India. In Nepal, CSIRO is supporting women leaders’ participation at SDIP partners’ decision-making processes, through engaging with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare to be part of the Committee that advises on CSIRO’s activities.

Connecting water management with gender impact

Improving gender outcomes requires understanding what communities’ gender specific needs are, as expressed by the communities themselves. To do this, CSIRO works closely with our partners. An example is the engagement with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Indian NGO Pradan to learn from women farmers about their farming practices and water needs.

Having this knowledge informs our water resource modelling work by providing the linkage between irrigation and water needs at the local scale (e.g. farm or village) and the water resource policy and planning scale. It informs our understanding of how policy initiatives affect different groups, especially marginalised people.

Project leader: Joyce Wu

The full factsheet from which this page was adapted from can be found here

The future: opportunities ahead for CSIRO and partners


• Research and analyse the linkages between changes in water management and associated biophysical and socio-economic impacts, and what this means for gender relations, involving women in water management, women and girls’ rights, as well as those of other marginalised groups
• Considerable gender research exists for the local scale (e.g. village or household). The question is how to link this with CSIRO’s work, as well as higher level governmental/ institutional engagement
• Strengthening our work on the nexus of water-food-energy and the overarching gender implications, as well as the impact of climate change.

Science-informed policy

• Science is not just research, it is also about using evidence-based findings to support policy initiatives. The conceptual gap between what is done at the water modelling level, and how this affects communities needs to be bridged. This way we can better formulate narratives around broad scale change and what this will mean in everyday life contexts for women and girls, men and boys.

Measuring and documenting change

• Linking to the themes of research and policy is – how we measure the positive change in gender equality and our role in it. The report Making gender count introduces an evaluation framework that includes gender so that the right questions can be asked at the right time to better integrate gender considerations into practice.
• Part of CSIRO’s efforts in promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality is through opening up training opportunities for female mid-career engineers and scientists. We will support our network of trainees and build an understanding of the impact of their learning opportunities through SDIP, especially any challenges encountered.
• As part of integrating gender into our monitoring and evaluation, we will embark on a learning by doing process to explore and test how gender impacts can be measured and quantified.

Gender related resources

ICIMOD: Gender

DFAT: Gender equality

ELDIS: Gender and climate change

UN water for life decade: gender and water

The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development: Principle 3

World Water Assessment project: Gender sensitive water monitoring toolkit

Gender and Water Alliance (GWA) : GWA is a global network dedicated to mainstream gender in water resoures management

Members of CSIRO have also collaborated on a special issue of interdisciplinary journal AMBIO tackling the importance of gender in research around global environmental change.

Understanding unconscious bias – adapted by Professor Uta Frith, UK Royal Society