Women & Rivers Accelerator

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The average population of freshwater species which have already declined since 1970 due to the degradation of rivers


The amount of Earth's free-flowing rivers that are protected


Percentage of women governing water systems and natural resources globally

Water is life.

Water is at the heart of many of today’s struggles. Decisions about how our waterways are used, managed, and developed affect the lives of millions – often causing upheaval to traditional livelihoods and societies, altering relationships between people and their environment, and causing devastating impacts to native ecosystems and biodiversity.

And women often bear the heaviest burden of these challenges.

Women's representation is crucial for protection of water resources

Women are often the primary users of water in their households and communities. Tasked with securing, maintaining, and using water resources in agriculture, fisheries, forest and land management, women sustain life through their relationships to water. 

Despite this, women are far less represented in decisions about how water and rivers are managed and developed. Deep inequalities persist from the household level to regional and national governance, with men holding a majority of the decision-making power and influence—and with communities and the earth paying the price.

Women sustain life through their relationships to water

Yet faced with these immense challenges, women river protectors have stood up for their communities and sought to envision another way forward. They have become political leaders, and the voices of movements in their own right. They have developed bodies of knowledge, strategy, and experience that are being leveraged to address the most pressing issues facing our planet, including the health of our rivers.

In 2019, International Rivers held a Women and Rivers Congress that convened women leaders from throughout the network to strategize together and identify ways to support each other in our shared efforts to protect rivers and all the life that depends on them. During this gathering, there was a resounding request for more opportunities to build capacity, share best practices, and build a powerbase among women river protectors in the International Rivers global network.

A transformative partnership to empower women’s leadership

23 Women River Protectors

Representing 10 nations

Protecting 50 rivers around the world

In recognition of the critical role that women play in shaping water solutions and the acute support need to grow their impact, International Rivers and Women’s Earth Alliance have partnered together to offer the Women and Rivers Accelerator. 

The Accelerator will generate measurable and sustained improvements to our world’s rivers, water sources and surrounding communities by catalyzing women-led solutions. 

Through the Accelerator, selected women river protectors will:

  • Share best practices for river and water protection across regions
  • Scale the quantifiable impact of their regional initiatives that protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them
  • Bolster women’s environmental leadership and engagement nationally and internationally by strengthening women’s access to networks, spheres of influence, information, and resources.
  • Grow public awareness and visibility for key campaigns and causes via our shared networks.
  • Strengthen campaigning for rivers in ways that are gender-responsive as leaders become trainers in International Rivers’ Transforming Power gender guide

Key Solutions

Bolstered women's environmental leadership and engagement nationally and internationally by strengthening access to networks, spheres of influence, information, and resources.

Grew public awareness and attention around key water and river protection campaigns.


Utilized International Rivers' Transforming Power gender guide to strengthen gender-responsive campaigning.


Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, and Thailand

Asia web page 1 copy
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WEA Leader Karen Crespo Triveño, 2021 US Accelerator

"Our work is an uphill battle every day and every hour. To see that all of us have similar journeys makes me feel stronger, inspires me to do more, and that is the strength that I am drawing from these collaborations"

- Nirmila Gowda (India), 2022 Women + Rivers Accelerator Leader

Program Partners


International Rivers has been at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them since 1985 in Latin America, Asia and Africa. IR works with an international network of dam-affected people, grassroots organizations, environmentalists, human rights advocates and others who are committed to stopping destructive river projects and promoting better options. Based in four continents, IR staff has expertise in big dams, energy and water policy, climate change, and international financial institutions. IR supports partner organizations and dam-affected people by providing advice, training and technical assistance, and advocating on their behalf with governments, banks, companies and international agencies. 

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Since 2006, WEA has worked at the intersection of women’s rights and the environment, creating impactful programming serving grassroots leaders around key environmental themes of climate change, water, agriculture, land protection, and energy. WEA designs capacity building “Accelerators” where women access technology, financing, mentorship, and a global alliance using WEA’s signature model. Through WEA programs, 5,500 women have received training in WEA accelerators, and they have gone on to launch life-saving environmental solutions in 22 countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and North America.

Protecting our rivers means protecting our future.

Support this work with a one-time donation today. All donations are tax deductible and 100% of your gift goes directly to our water protection initiatives.

WEA is fiscally sponsored by Earth Island Institute (EII), a 501(c)(3) organization. EII has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator - America's largest independent evaluator of non-profit organizations - for our efficient use of funds.