Women in Africa have been advised to take up positions in the fields of water, sanitation and environment and balance what are mostly male-dominated sectors. The call was made during the International Forum of Professional Women for Water, Sanitation, and Environment in Africa, held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on February 19. The forum organised by African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWaSA), and other partners, intended to empower women to have confidence and work as a team to break barriers in the sector. While calling for the inclusion of women, Rose Kaggwa, the second president of the Scientific and Technical Council of the forum in Uganda, noted that there is still bias against women in Africa, which hinders them from taking on such jobs. “Women should embrace these positions as policymakers and implementers of clean water and sanitation since women and girls are the major beneficiaries of clean water. “Women spend at least four billion hours per year collecting water, and this needs to change, but it starts with support from men, employers, and policymakers,” she pointed out. According to Kaggwa, environments should be created for men to comfortably engage women in diverse responsibilities in water and sanitation, and crafting ground-breaking ways to solve women’s challenges. The forum also anticipated building capacity for women, girls and the elderly, through mentoring programmes and professional training to provide them with more skills and knowledge since some shun the sector due to limited information. Leontine Koffi, the president of the Ivorian Network of Women Professionals, said that women need to be equipped with efficient tools to succeed in this sector. She further noted that experiences of women ought to be shared to promote sanitation in sustainable management of water, adding that women need visibility as they carry out these tasks and implement their roles. “Water is life and sanitation is our duty to grant the future generation, reason why the forum offers an opportunity to women to share their experiences to show the world that Africa is able to make an improvement in water and sanitation,” said Sylver Mugisha, AfWaSA’s president. Research shows that women in Africa avoid positions in water, sanitation and environment for diverse reasons. For instance, during a survey carried out by the International Forum of Professional Women for Water, Sanitation, and Environment in Africa regarding water and sanitation, only 16 countries participated, and 150 women responded. 42 per cent of the women wanted to be in charge in such positions, 54 per cent couldn’t opt for managerial positions, and 77 per cent refused to take chances in leadership positions because they feared failure. This is why trainings in leadership and peer-to-peer mentoring have been established, with hope that more women will step up and lead. “Water bodies are drying and animals are dying, but the problem has been identified, and Africans are waking up to find solutions, which is why the impact of climate change can’t be overemphasised. “Let’s ponder on who is better conditioned to provide sanitation in our environment, leverage experience, preserve diversity, and foster reforestation than women,” said Laurent Tchagba, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for Water and Forests. He reminded women that the time is right for their involvement in the integration of water resources and expressed that it will require funding to have adequate training. “We shall support advocacy to be trained on environment change and to push women to be heads. If women are allowed to lead this sector, no stone will be left unturned,” Tchagba said.