International Women's Day: An opportunity to celebrate the courage and determination of women in water management

Women are part of the solution for good resource management in the Goascoran river basin, shared between Honduras and El Salvador, they work together to conserve it and to have access to water in its different uses.

Día Internacional de la Mujer

Central America has not been able to guarantee quality water supply for its entire population, since there are management problems and pollution due to inadequate productive practices, lack of sanitation and wastewater treatment services. In this scenario, women have a key role in good management and every day they undertake more leadership in its management. 

Women actively participate in water boards, watershed councils, schools, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, local economic development associations and government institutions. They all manage water in their homes; some even walk kilometers in the mountain to the water source to take it back to their homes. They are involved in reforestation, water conservation and environmental education; attend participatory planning workshops and trainings for integrated resource management and adaptation to climate change.

"The important thing is to find a solution, to improve, to know why we do not have water quality." Yudy Espinal, Honduras.

Yudy Espinal is a neighbor of Aguanqueterique, in the Department of La Paz in Honduras where the access to water and drinking quality are serious problems, water is not available every day in their houses and many times they have to buy it.

Brenda Garcia from El Salvador, believes that binational coordination is important to implement actions in both the upper basin and the lower basin, in order to improve water quality for the benefit of both countries.

Often times, women work in awareness and dissemination activities that help to involve more stakeholders from the community. For example, Semiramis Molina, of the Municipality of San Alejo in El Salvador tells us: "I, as a woman from the Environmental Unit, try to involve both women and men in cleaning the rivers; I mobilize students and disseminate activities about the participation of both men and women.”

According to Nazareth Porras, IUCN technical officer, the increase in women´s participation is reflected in the organization processes of the Goascoran river basin at all levels. They are part of council boards in micro-watersheds and basins, the presidency and vice-presidency of the Goascorán river basin council are held by women, in their bylaws they highlight the importance of having gender quota to vote in the Assembly.

"There are many women who are working individually and organized in the protection of water, I saw how organized groups of women are protecting mangroves in both El Salvador and Honduras." Álvaro Moreno, Goascorán basin council, Honduras.

The Goascorán river basin is shared between Honduras and El Salvador, according to the Management Plan (CATIE, 2007) it covers an area of ​​2345 km2, 52% in Honduras and 48% in El Salvador. It is located in the Central American Dry Corridor, one of the most affected areas by extreme climatic events, mainly due to recurrent periods of drought along with excessive rainfall and severe flooding that affect agricultural production, with greater intensity in degraded areas.
It has 16 municipalities and 30,000 inhabitants in Honduras and 13 municipalities and 145,000 inhabitants in El Salvador. The main economic activities are agriculture (basic grains, coffee and vegetables), livestock and fishing in the lower basin.

Women are agents of change in decision-making processes in transboundary cooperation, from the local to the international level. Its role in peace building and security is recognized by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security. In other words, gender equity is imperative for successful water governance benefiting all the population. 

International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate the courage and determination of women who have played a key role in the history of their countries and communities, but also to reflect on achievements related to women's rights, their role in water governance and adaptation to climate change, as well as future challenges.

In this video women from the Goascorán basin talk about how they actively participate in basin councils to propose actions for better basin management.


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