Background on the Women and Rivers Congress

A global network led by women leaders, International Rivers, Oxfam, and other partners convened the inaugural Women and Rivers Congress in March 2019. The event brought together close to 100 women from more than 30 countries to celebrate the fundamental role women play in defending and stewarding freshwater resources, as well as to spur collective action to challenge the deep-rooted, gender inequities that women face in safeguarding rivers and river ecosystems.

Congress participants jointly developed a Solidarity Statement and a roadmap for collective action. Each participant represented a wealth of knowledge and connections and networks were formed that have continued since that time. However, to be effective, women leaders continue to ask for and need spaces to connect within and across regions for training, strategy building, and networking. 

Building on the global Congress and the work achieved since 2019, Oxfam, International Rivers, and partners are co-organizing a second face-to-face Congress with an in-depth regional focus on Asia. 

The Asia Women and Rivers Congress will bring together women leaders from riverine and indigenous communities, civil society, academia, and policymakers to discuss water, energy, and climate change challenges that are faced in transboundary river basins that flow across South and Southeast Asia. The participants will share their experiences and knowledge, and plan collaborative strategies for women’s-led river protection campaigns and responses to the challenges they face. Together they will recognize World Environment Day on June 5th by celebrating each other’s contributions to our work, communities, and rivers

Asia Women and Rivers Congress Objectives

The Congress aims for participants to:

       Be inspired by stories of resilience and success and women’s knowledge and capacities

        Build on and deepen the existing networks and collaborations and create new ones

        Provide and share opportunities for women and their supporters to learn new skills and strategies to be prepared to meet new challenges

        Encourage dialogue across disciplines and sectors 

Spotlight on Asia

Water conflict in Asia has largely been between river developers and local communities adversely impacted by development projects. This is increased by the challenges of climate change. In spite of clear linkages between gender, water, energy, and climate change, women’s roles and leadership have not been a significant part of the discourse in transboundary water management. Women in Asia manage and disproportionately bear the negative impacts of water and energy provisioning fundamental to household and community sustenance needs. Although women have experience, ideas, and knowledge of how to manage these resources, their views are rarely sought at decision-making levels. Understanding the ways in which gender shapes policy over the sustainable management of our natural resources when faced with climate change and the differing needs and positions of women and men, is crucial to addressing poverty and ensuring sustainability.

Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!