Storytelling, Connecting, and Supporting Women for River and Water governance: an invitation to co-design

Quick Link: Co-design Expression of Interest

As with so many other global events in 2020, last year’s Women and Rivers Congress was held online. For the 181 participants, this was a great opportunity to start to meet and connect with the many activists, researchers, journalists, artists, and organisations working to support women’s voices in river management and governance.

The event had been scheduled to take place in Vietnam, and to connect women across the Mekong River Basin, the Nu-Salween, and South Asia – and was instead held virtually between July and September 2020 as three separate workshops, attracting a global audience. The report from the 2020 Women and Rivers Congress is available here.

The need for more opportunities to share and connect

One of the outcomes of the workshops, presentations, and discussions was the need for a place to keep these conversations going, and to be able to link with one another to share stories and continue to build connections beyond the scheduled virtual events. Each webinar sparked conversations between participants, but there was no ‘place’ for women and other leaders to come together to continue to share and engage on critical issues or share their experiences.

Following this need, Oxfam Asia and International Rivers have partnered with the East West Management Institute’s Open Development Initiative to scope out what kind of a technological solution could serve this community and its need to connect and share.

Your invitation to co-design with us

Over the next few months, we invite you to be a part of the co-design process and share your ideas with us! We want to know how you currently use technology to connect and share stories and knowledge, and how an online platform, application, or other tech solution could help you add your voice and hear from others working on issues that you care about.

Our core research questions in this codesign phase include:

How does our community engage with water governance, and what are the key challenges faced in inclusive water governance and participation?
How can sharing stories and stronger virtual connections support women’s leadership in water and river governance?
What digital technologies do we as a community currently use and rely on for sharing stories and networking - and what are their strengths and limitations?
What additional technological solutions would support strengthening and supporting connections and storytelling?
What features and user requirements need to be considered in the design stage to support our community’s needs?

You are invited to participate in a focus group or schedule a time for a discussion about these questions and to share your perspective and ideas. Please complete the Expression of Interest to Co-design form, or send us an email at to get involved.

We look forward to including your priorities and perspectives as a part of this exciting initiative.

Past Workshops

Cross-regional Gender Guide Webinar

November 26, 2020 | 9am WAT (Democratic Republic of Congo), 3pm Thailand

This cross regional webinar introduced some of the dedicated people behind the creation of Transforming Power, a gender guide for organisations campaigning on dams and for rivers, and its testing in the communities of Inga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The webinar explored the potential use of the guide across regions for organizations looking to strengthen their gender practices and empower the voices of women river defenders.

This webinar followed the Asia Women and Rivers webinar series on supporting Women’s Leadership and responds to the call from participants for more practical tools to building women’s leadership and power.

Transforming Power, a gender guide for organisations campaigning on dams and for rivers was created as a tool to help CSOs, NGOs and grassroot community organisations strengthen their gender practice and encourage campaigning in ways that are gender-responsive in the interests of both women and men. The guide was developed in collaboration with civil society partners, community representatives and women, who shared their experiences of the Inga dams in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While the guide is situated within the gender binary framework that continues to dominate many dam- affected communities, it can be translated into a broader framework beyond the male-female binary through the use of practical tools which are included in the guide. The Gender Guide is designed to be adjusted, added to, translated and altered for different audiences. Different settings and contexts will elicit different responses and as a result the use of additional imagery, flow charts, checklists, case studies, activity sheets and facilitators notes, will be required. This flexibility enables the adaption of case studies and examples with each river context which will enrich the document, and ensure it stays relevant for local use in the context where it is needed. The use of case studies, and local stories will allow the user (CSOs/NGOs and community leaders), to see themselves in the stories.

Download the full gender guide and tools here.

Asia Women and Rivers Congress 2020

How do women facing systems of oppression become empowered within their communities to take on leadership roles in the management and governance of their water resources? What ingredients are key to this "recipe" for successful leadership? And how can we seek this change collectively under today's ever-evolving circumstances?

These are some of the questions we explored together in a series of virtual workshops convened by Oxfam and International Rivers from July to September 2020.

These workshops took place in light of our cancellation of the Women and Rivers - Asia Regional Congress. The Congress, originally scheduled for March 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Knowledge as the Basis of Change

July 3, 2020 | 3:00 - 4:30pm Bangkok Time (GMT+7)

This workshop served as an introduction and overview to the concepts of women's leadership in river governance, as laid out in the released report, State of Knowledge: Women and Rivers in the Mekong Region. This study was recommended by Congress participants in 2019. It recognizes and values women’s knowledge of their rivers and resources, and explores how to bridge the divide between academic, economic and science-based knowledge and that of local riverine communities. We heard directly from the authors of the report about their research and findings, followed by reflections from a panel of women leaders in river governance issues.
Learn more about the workshop and access the recording.

Building on Shared Experience to Nurture Women's Leadership

August 14, 2020 | 3:00 - 5:00pm Bangkok Time (GMT+7)

This session delved deeper into implementing the "recipe for women's leadership" laid out in the State of Knowledge report. Interactive group work focused on applying the methodology to your local context, explanation of specific tools, and the challenges and opportunities presented by the impacts of COVID-19. Participants shared stories of their work as a means of building on each others' collective knowledge and experience.
View the workshop summary and slides here.

How can we support Women’s Leadership in a time of COVID 19 response and recovery?

September 25, 2020 | 3:00 - 5:00pm Bangkok Time (GMT+7)

Our final session was a chance for participants to share how information from the previous two workshops has influenced their work, and address specific challenges in implementation. We also explored the impacts of Covid-19 on our work and how we can collectively adapt to evolving circumstances. Learn more here.

Asia Women and Rivers Congress

Virtual Workshop Sponsors and Organizers