Increasing women’s participation in the water sector and achieving true equality means needs a mix of practical measures taken on the ground backed with system and culture change.
These were the main points made by Nerea Plaza, Head of 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Projects at Agbar, when she represented AquaFed at the EU High Level Conference on Water and Gender Equality this week.
Nerea explained Agbar’s educational program to promote technological and scientific vocation among girls – planning to work with 10,000 girls over 3 years. “If you want more women in the sector, we have to work from the ground up and tackle the gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths)”, she said.
Another key point she made was in relation to the solidarity fund that Agbar offers to low-income families to help pay their water bills.
Nerea said: “We need gender-based KPIs but there are legal restrictions on the data we need, so it is really difficult to understand how effective the social tariffs are in supporting women.
“When we are facing a poverty situation, which usually affects more to women, we need time and a holistic approach to cover basic needs of the whole family so that they can focus on improving their job situation.”
This point on data was strongly supported by Lesha Witmer, of the Women for Water Partnership, who was moderating the conference.
The event was co-convened by The Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021, UNESCO – WWAP and Women for Water Partnership.