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Towards the criteria necessary for the career success of women in the water sector
Expanded Title:Women’s participation, inclusion, representation or lack thereof in areas of decision-making and leadership have dominated international forums since the 1970s. This study set out to understand how women in the water sector achieved positions of seniority and leadership and what lessons can be drawn from their experiences to inspire other women aspiring for leadership in the sector. From the experiences and lessons shared the study distilled a set of criteria for women to achieve career-success in the water sector. The study’s departure point was to focus on those women who have made it to levels of leadership and senior management in the water sector; to find out how they made it and the ways in which they cope with the responsibilities of their high ranking positions. The study represents a focused analysis of women working in the water sector, specifically women occupying senior positions (Director Level and above) within public sector water institutions. A study population of 40 people, women and men, was identified. It was decided to include men in the study population and sample, in order to gain a perspective of their role in supporting women in the sector. Due to challenges of access 34 of 40 people identified were interviewed, that is, 26 senior women and 8 senior men. The research, the interviews specifically, were carried out according to five broad categories that included background, challenges encountered, support mechanisms, policy environment and women’s leadership in the sector. The background looked at where the women came from and the factors that contributed to their success in the sector, that is, what were the motivating factors and the drivers in their success. The challenges encountered explored the obstacles that the women encountered growing up, the way(s) in which they dealt with them, and whether they encouraged and enabled their growth or hindered it. In terms of support mechanisms the women were asked to describe the kinds of support that was in place to accommodate them in their career and how they have experienced different forms of support, that is, personal as well as professional support. The interviews with men began from this category onwards. The men were asked about their role in supporting women and the contributions they made to enable women’s growth and advancement in the sector. The policy environment addressed the extent to which legislation and policy has enabled women to develop and attain senior positions. This was viewed as a critical category in that there appears to be a gap between the advanced legislative and policy environment in South Africa and the implementation of the legislation and policy. The women were asked to share on the extent to which the legislative and policy paradigm enabled their development, and their insights on the gap between the existence of the legislation and policy and the implementation thereof. The men were asked about their involvement in the implementation of the gender policy as well as to share their views on whether or not the policies are working to ensure that more women are getting into the top leadership and management positions in the sector. The category also sought to understand whether having women in senior management is necessarily transformative and enabling for other women. The fifth category, women’s leadership in the sector, looked at the current level of women’s leadership in the sector. In other words, do women hold meaningful positions of leadership and do they have decision-making power in their positions. Further, the category unpacked the impact of women’s leadership in sector transformation and in advancing a transformative agenda that creates space for other women to climb the ladder and achieve positions of seniority in the sector. The questions in this category were similar for both the women and men. An additional question for the men was that they were asked about their views on women in leadership with regard to addressing gender biases against other women being able to access decision-making positions. The analytical framework that was applied to the findings derived from the interviews was Sarah Longwe’s Women’s Equality and Empowerment Framework (1995; 1998; 2001). Through the application of the framework and the assessment of women’s equality and empowerment according to the five levels of equality, the findings revealed that women in the water sector have achieved equality and empowerment at the highest level. Women participate in all areas of the sector and have control of resources including in the decision-making of how resources will be distributed. There is a level of consciousness among the women in terms of gender equity, gender inclusiveness and gender sensitivity. South Africa and the water sector have a legislative and policy framework that supports equality of opportunity as well as advances women, in particular, through the Affirmative Action Act. The water sector developed a National Implementation Strategy and Action Plan 2006-2010 for mainstreaming gender into the water services sector, evidencing the sector’s commitment to mainstreaming gender.
Date Published:01/08/2010
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Water Resource Management/IWRM - Catchment Management, R & D - Research capacity, R & D - Water history
Document Keywords:Policy and regulation, Society; Gender and Youth
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:1762-1-10
ISBN No:9781770059948
ISBN Set No:9781431200184
Authors:Kola N; Ndlela L; Rawat BF; Jooste T; Njiro E; Kimathi S
Project Leader:Kola N
Project No:K5/1762
Document Size:1 203 KB
Attachments:Executive summary for 1762-1-10.pdf
Table of contents 1762.pdf
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