By Abdoulaye Sène, Executive Secretary of the 9th World Water Forum
International Women's Day will be celebrated on Monday, March 8, 2021 under the theme of "Women's Leadership: For an Egalitarian Future in the World of Covid-19." The celebration of this day dedicated to women's rights comes this year in the particular context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which spares no country and requires, in addition to barrier measures, resilience and other coordinated responses, at the level of countries, continents, and the world.
The theme chosen for this year's International Women's Day is thus relevant and corresponds to the challenges of the moment. Nowhere will it be possible to cope with this unprecedented pandemic, which has created serious health, social and economic consequences without the involvement of women and girls around the world. More than ever, they have a leading role to play alongside other components of society to contribute to the construction of a resilient and egalitarian covid and post-covid world.
In just over a year's time, Dakar will host from 21 to 26 March 2022 the 9th World Water Forum, which will provide concrete answers to improve access to water and sanitation around the world, in line with the SDG6. Women will be at the heart of the Forum, as they are the first to suffer from lack of access to basic services, including clean water and sanitation (school dropout, menstrual hygiene, etc.). I would also like to point out that, according to UN Women data, in 80% of households without running water in the world, the drudgery of water is the responsibility of girls and women. Therefore, no one is in a better position than them to make their voices heard in decision-making processes to think outside the box.
The challenges are as much in addressing inequalities in access to water and sanitation as in labor market policy to strengthen the employability of women in the sector.
The current pandemic is yet another justification for the Forum to accelerate access to water and sanitation and to ensure that the achievement of sustainable development goals in these areas is not illusory. I call on women around the world to get heavily involved in the Forum’s preparatory process, including joining the consultative groups responsible for the development of thematic content and participating in numbers at the Dakar Grand Meeting in March 2022 to make the SDG5: "Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls", a reality in the water and sanitation sector. The necessary steps are already being taken so that women's leadership can express itself fully at the 9th World Water Forum.