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Click herePress Release from The Second World Water Forum, date : 20-03-2000 - back

GAIA round table discussion

Hanneke Giessen

Preliminary results of the GAIA survey are presented today to Mrs Annelies Verstand, Vice-Minister of Women Emancipation of The Netherlands at 7 PM in the Mill at the World Water Fair

Tonight, at 7 PM in the Mill of the Dutch Water Village at the centre of the Fair, preliminary results of the GAIA survey are presented to Mrs Annelies Verstand, Vice-Minister of Women Emancipation of The Netherlands. The goals of the survey were to create awareness on gender in the western water sector and to present the different views on this subject of WWF visitors. Following an international panel consisting of Mrs Kusum Athukorala, (Steering Committee/GWP, Sri Lanka), Mr. C.L. de Maud’Huy (Advisor of the Chairman, Vivendi), Mr Ingvar Andersson (UNDP, USA) and Thea de Roos-van Rooden (President of the Water Board "Het Lange Rond",The Netherlands) the gender issue on the western water sector and possible actions in future will be discussed. Mrs Violet Falkenburg (famous Dutch talk-show host) will host the discussion.

The past few days WWF participants had a good chance to meet women from GAIA and get questioned about the equity of men and women in the western water sector in their country of origin. Subsequently, GAIA (Dutch Network for Women in Earth Sciences) and Zijstroom (Dutch Network for Women in the Water Sector) hoped to create awareness regarding the low participation of women in the water sector in particular in western countries. All in all 550 men and women were surveyed and almost 90% agrees that there is an under-representation of women in this sector (!).

Participants were asked to estimate the percentage of women working in either the engineering side or decision making. The percentages in The Netherlands range from 5% in research, 10% in consultancy and water supply companies to 15% female project-managers at the government.

Men from foreign countries estimate that a greater percentage is working in the Dutch water sector. Depending on gender and age Dutch participants perceived participation of women to be more in line with actual figures. Major causes of the under-representation are a low women participation in science and technology studies, gender related barriers (e.g. glass ceiling) and insufficient child-care facilities. Both male and female participants of the survey note that part-time jobs impede career development.

The majority of men and women interviewed feel that women should be more involved as professionals in the water sector. Actions that can be taken are, according to the WWF public, creating awareness, collecting data on the under-representation of women and more involvement of women’s networks.

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