WARC 2024


Congress photos here


Lin Hnin Aye, Oxfam, lin.hninaye@oxfam.org + 95 9 761 994118

Bonnie Barclay, International Rivers, bbarclay@internationalrivers.org, +1 323 363 4874

Thailand – Over 125 women leaders and partners from 18 countries convened in Chiang Rai, Thailand, for the Asia Women and Rivers Congress, a momentous event that marked a crucial milestone in the ongoing mission for gender equity in water resource management and climate resilience. 

From 4 to 6 June 2024, participants engaged in strategic discussions, workshops, and networking sessions aimed at fostering collaboration and collective action. The Congress showcased the expertise, skills, and unwavering dedication of women leaders from Indigenous and riverine communities, civil society organizations, academia, and policymaking sectors. 

“We are at a critical global moment where the intersection of gender and environmental issues must be addressed with urgency and intentionality,” says Ayesha DSouza, Women and Rivers Program Lead at International Rivers. “The collective power, expertise, and knowledge of the women gathered at this Congress is a testament to the meaningful change we are leading.” 

During the Congress, the participants celebrated World Environment Day and crafted a powerful Solidarity Statement, calling for urgent transformative changes that center the vital role of women environmental defenders in the protection of rivers, territories, and communities. The statement highlights many urgent needs and solutions including:

  • The protection of rivers and territories is integral to climate action and ensuring a just and inclusive energy transition.
  • Women environmental defenders are facing harassment and violence and governments, companies and the international community must take urgent action to safeguard environmental defenders.
  • There must be real commitment and action for accountability and reparations for loss and damages. 
  • Changes need to be made that respect Indigenous Peoples and women’s rights, environmental defenders, and their crucial roles in community resource management. 

To view the full Solidarity Statement, click here.

“The Asia Women and River Congress provides a regional avenue for women environmental defenders to share their current situations, revitalize their connection and build solidarity to support one another. Women Rivers Defenders, similar to the transboundary rivers in Asia at present, are under threat, and facing violence and harassment. Healthy rivers are vital for our co-existence and resilience in this time of climate crisis. We need government, inter-governmental agencies, and companies to take urgent actions to safeguard our Women River Defenders and the Mother Rivers,” says Socheata Sim, Program Manager of Mekong Regional Water Governance Program in Oxfam.

The Congress is an initiative from a global network led by women leaders with coordinating support from International Rivers, Oxfam, Open Development Institute, Mekong Community Institute, Network of Indigenous Women in Asia and other partners. These partners have played crucial roles in advancing the mission of the Women and Rivers Network, initiated in 2019 with a commitment to protect free-flowing rivers and the lands, forests, and territories they sustain. The network aims to ensure women’s leadership in decision-making at all levels over freshwater resources, strengthening alliances, and growing our movement.

Building on the success of the first global Women and Rivers Congress in 2019, and the work achieved, Oxfam, International Rivers, Open Development Initiative, Mekong Community Institute, Mae Fah Luang University, Network of Indigenous Women in Asia, and partners co-organized this second face-to-face Congress with an in-depth regional focus on Asia.

To learn more: https://www.womenandrivers.com


About International Rivers

International Rivers is a global organization with more than 35 years of work and regional offices in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The group works so that riparian communities and people affected by dams have their voices heard and their rights respected. International Rivers helps create active and well-instrumented networks of civil society groups and conducts independent, investigative research to protect rivers and defend the rights of communities that depend on them. 

About Oxfam

Oxfam is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. Across regions, from the local to the global, we work with people to bring change that lasts. In Asia, Oxfam implements Regional Programs on Water Governance in the Mekong River Basin and South Asia River Basin. The Programs built on over two  decades of experience in working on fair sharing of natural resources, with a special focus on gender equality, disability and social inclusion, promotes women in leadership and feminist for transformational change. The work focuses on strengthening civil society and empowers communities, so that more farmers and fisherfolk in the Mekong region will fully realize their rights to secure and sustainable livelihoods.