Roadmap for Collective Action

Roadmap for Collective Action

In 2019, Congress participants jointly developed a roadmap for collective action in the coming years. Each represented an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and capacity in their own right, and have committed to pursuing early stage actions across each of these domains. However, to be effective much more needs to be done. This roadmap charts a course and we welcome and encourage others to expand upon and join in this endeavor. 

1) Generating Knowledge and Influence

While there are pockets of academic and local knowledge documenting the importance of women and rivers it is largely decentralized, under-communicated, and under-utilized. Most importantly, this critical knowledge is not having the significant impact on water governance that it should. The result is that women’s knowledge and interests remain marginalised, while political processes can too easily ignore them. Initiating a “state of knowledge report” that is co-created--drawing together academic review and community women local knowledge--was identified as a key next step in addressing the problem. It was also seen as critical to framing wider needs and opportunities for women's interests, while linking research/documentation with policy development and governance decision making.

2) Resource mobilization

Less than 0.2% of all philanthropic dollars are dedicated to women and the environment. To be successful, we need to educate and influence the philanthropic community to scale-up funding through evidence-based storytelling and documentation of the urgency, need and value of investing in rural women freshwater stewards. Increased funding should employ innovative, flexible funding approaches that genuinely respond to the needs of women at the forefront of change.  

3) Strengthening the movement

While women have been at the forefront of efforts to protect rivers and river ecosystems for generations, the interconnected, trans-local global movement is nascent. Building on the success of this Congress, we need to build “grassrooted” alliances with community and grassroots women at the forefront of change with integrated ecosystem of support from NGOS, researchers, academics and funders. Existing capacities and knowledge need to be bolstered and fortified. Risks or threats to safety, security, health and wellbeing of women and river ecosystems need to be identified alongside mechanisms and allies at the local, national and international level to provide redress and support.  Women leaders will take the lead in developing legal and policy frameworks. 

4) Frame the narrative and tell our stories

There is no unifying narrative that unites the initiative and struggles of women water stewards and protectors in common purpose. To be successful, we need to proactively develop and amplify positive framing and stories about the contributions of women and rivers leaders, as well as the threats they face, using traditional, social and multi-media channels.  Women on the frontlines should be prominent spokespeople in this growing movement, and should be supported with trainings and opportunities to speak forcefully and publicly about their experience and knowledge.