Happy International Women’s Day!
We strongly believe that progress cannot be made without the input and leadership of women and girls in their communities.
It seems fitting that this week we welcome three new female interns to each of our offices. Through these interns we hope to build a new generation of female leaders in environmentalism and peacebuilding measures in the region. We welcome them to our team and look forward to the work they will do with us and in the future.
Mira Edelstein IL Jordan River & Dead Sea Projects Manager (left) and Amy Lipman-Avizohar, IL Education and Good Water Neighbours Co-ordinator (right)
We are excited this year to expand upon our branch of Good Water Neighbours (GWN) focused on gender equality and empowering girls and women in cross-border watershed communities.
The only way to succeed in GWN’s mission of “common problem solving and peace building among communities” is to include the entire population, and to do so we must empower women to the point where they too feel capable of occupying leadership platforms.
It is also women who suffer the most on a daily basis from a lack of water. It is women who have to face daily intermittent water supply and lack of sewage and solid waste sanitation services when trying to undertake domestic tasks. And, in rural areas, particularly in the Jordan Valley, it is women’s agricultural work which suffers from lack of access to water and pollution, limiting their work for their families’ livelihoods.
On the most practical level, it makes no sense that women are almost entirely shut out from working on the water crisis that they are so directly affected by. The technical disciplines of engineering, hydrology and planning are heavily underrepresented by women. Women are almost completely absent from local water boards, to national water agencies and cross border water institutions, are rarely mayors, have low representation in parliament. and have never been the ministers of water in Jordan, Palestine or Israel.
Such a large group of people with such personal stakes should have more of a say over how it is handled and fixed, which is why EcoPeace is so excited to announce their plans to offer 3 Female Youth Water Trustee Alumni in each country an Alumni Leadership Scholarship each year. They will assist with cross border trips, help to plan Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp and Female Cross Border Watershed Forum Training, identify women leaders in each watershed for Forum Site visits, and identify local women-owned businesses for Watershed Fairs. We are looking forward to being kept up to date with their progress through their shared blog!
We are also going to emphasise education focused towards women in leadership, especially with teachers, many of whom are female. As well as conducting an annual Regional Youth Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp to train future female leaders in environmental peacebuilding, and hosting an Annual Regional Female Watershed Forum Training for adult female participants on the role of women in environmental cooperation and advancing shared water and sanitation projects of common concern.
We hope that this move towards promoting female empowerment in the region will create an even bigger catalyst for change. We cannot wait to see all of the great things these leaders will do for the region, and know that with their help, progress towards a lasting peace will be closer than ever.
Written by: Sophie Clark, EcoPeace Intern, Tel Aviv