WaterRising Calls for Women Leaders to Solve our Water Crisis at the United Nations

WaterRising Institute spoke at the High-Level Political Forum for the release of the Spotlight Series Paper, From Commodity to Common Good: A Feminist Agenda to Tackle The World’s Water Crisis. Hosted by UN Women and taking place on July 17, 2023 at the United Nations, Jennifer Steffens, a member of WaterRising’s Board of Directors, contributed to this urgent report on the state of global progress toward SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 5 (Water and Sanitation for All), and nine recommendations for immediate action.

This critical update from UN Women provides the most recent data on how the water crisis is affecting women and girls. It calls for a feminist approach to mainstreaming gender decisions, one that recognizes the hugely important role women play in their communities as the main collectors, protectors and managers of water.

With equal representation in leadership and decision-making, the paper stresses that engaging with women and their communities to incorporate their perspectives, including the “rights of Nature” approach, is essential to ecologically responsible water governance. This approach draws a clear connection between social justice, ecological rights and women’s rights. It argues that to accelerate SDG 6, countries must accelerate SDG 5 on gender equality, and vice versa.

“Nearly 90% of climate disasters manifest through water and impact women the most, while 1 billion women and girls already lack access to safely managed drinking water. The data speaks volumes that it’s time for women to have equal access to leadership and decision-making in water management to get us out of the water crisis that we inherited,” said Steffens.

“WaterRising believes that smart technology will bridge the gender gap in the water workforce. With over 200 occupations in the water sector alone, women trained on smart technology will be prepared for many other industries, which will lead to safer communities, economic growth and progress toward SDGs 5 and 6,” Steffens explained.

Read more about UN Women’s recommendations here.

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WaterWoman Project is the first women-led, diplomacy-driven initiative working to increase gender inclusivity to solve the water workforce crisis and accelerate progress toward United Nations SDGs 5, 6 and 14 by 2030. WaterRising Institute is a Detroit-based 501(C)3 nonprofit organization born out of the Flint water crisis. To learn more, visit

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