People, may we ALL be so bold!

A call to action for more gender transformative leaders in developing and implementing WASH and COVID-19 responses. Read Megan Ritchie's gender transformative leadership video premiere opening statement.

Today, 24 August, SNV, ISF-UTS and Water for Women launched short videos from Bhutan, Lao PDR, and Nepal, which showcase examples of transformative water, sanitation and hygiene leadership during COVID times. The video premiere was opened by Megan Ritchie, SNV Managing Director for WASH. Below is a transcript of Megan's opening statement.

It is my very great pleasure to welcome you to this session – Gender Transformative Leadership in WASH: Voices from Asia.

When the going gets tough – and let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic adds a whole new layer of ‘tough’ – then the tough doesn’t only need to get going. True leaders need to dig deep in their creative bag of ‘tricks.’

When you’re a leader with the objective to safeguard something as fundamental as the right of people to water and sanitation, then your mission is, in my way of thinking… not only noble and sacred, but also paramount and life-changing.

SNV, together with ISF-UTS and the Water for Women Fund of the Australian Government are proud and excited to be sharing with you a series of recorded interviews with diverse and inspirational WASH leaders from both government and civil society.

Each one of our featured leader has strived (and continues) to transform inequalities in their COVID-19 WASH responses. They are all participants of a wider research study conducted by SNV and ISF-UTS that looked at gender transformative leadership in WASH during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bhutan, Lao PDR, and Nepal.

In their own words they share with you the power of listening, and the determination necessary to address and respond to the diverse needs of all people – including women, girls, people with disabilities, and vulnerable groups. Their leadership and their resolute commitment throughout and beyond the COVID pandemic (response) support social cohesion, create stability, and build resilience during these times of great upheaval.

(Through these videos), we bring to you a snapshot of their stories, in their own voices. And through these videos we hope that you might gain insights into what gender transformative leadership means and what it looks like in the WASH sector. And maybe even, that you might be inspired by the positive examples these leaders bring.

Word cloud after video premiere

Video viewers' choice of most inspiring words

There is little doubt that the actions of leaders have lasting effects on the citizens they serve and represent. True leaders are shape-shifters: they challenge norms where they need to. They call out inequality when they see it. And they take action when and where it is necessary.

Now more than ever leadership needs to be inclusive and it needs to be gender transformative.

To paraphrase some rather famous words, these leaders are no longer ‘accepting the things they cannot change’... instead they’re ‘changing the things they cannot accept.’

People, may we ALL be so bold.

Banner photo: Ambika Yadav from SNV in Nepal, a community leader for 25 years representing women and people with disabilities' rights to representation, political participation, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (SNV/Meeting Point).