Gender equity and Australian water management:
Lessons from International Development

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This panel discussion will explore the issue of gender equity in water management in Australia. The issue of gender equity and social inclusion is a key consideration in many international development projects. However, there has been less of an explicit focus on gender issues in Australian water research, policy and management. Are there lessons we can learn from international development projects that could be applied in the Australian context? What are the opportunities and priorities for exploring these issues in the Australian water sector?

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Meet the panelists

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Dr Gayathri Melaka, Tutor, Water Management and Policy, The University of Melbourne

Dr Gayathri Mekala is a Teaching and Research academic at the University of Melbourne. She has completed her Bachelor of Agriculture & Masters in Rural Management and holds a PhD in socio-economic issues affecting wastewater recycling from the University of Melbourne. Dr Mekala currently coordinates subjects on Irrigation and Land Resources Management in addition to supporting other agriculture subjects. She has recently completed her work as a Gender-in-Agriculture Specialist and Social Scientist in two ACIAR funded projects in Pakistan and Pacific Islands, and has also previously worked on gender issues in urban agriculture in Asia and Africa.

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Professor Andrew Campbell, CEO ACIAR

Professor Andrew Campbell is the Chief Executive of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2016. He was Australia's first National Landcare Facilitator, and was CEO of Land & Water Australia for seven years from 2000. Professor Campbell represents Australia on the System Council of the CGIAR, and is Chair of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA). He is a Councillor, ACT Division in the Institute for Public Administration Australia and a Director on the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust. He has written widely on landcare, sustainability and the science-policy interface, and trained in forestry at the University of Melbourne, then in agricultural knowledge systems at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

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Dr Anna Kosovac, Lecturer & Research Fellow in Water Policy, The University of Melbourne
Dr Anna Kosovac is a Research Fellow in Water Policy at the University of Melbourne, and her research considers the role of risk perceptions in decision-making in governance. Dr Kosovac holds a PhD in Risk Perception and Decision Making, a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Hons) and a Master of International Relations, all from the University of Melbourne. She is a member of the University of Melbourne SAGE Athena SWAN Gender Equity Team, as well Secretary of the Australian/New Zealand branch of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). She has conducted work in understanding gender relations and the role of masculinity in driving water decisions in the industry in Australia.


Michael Wilson, Group CEO, eWater Ltd

Michael commenced as Group Chief Executive of eWater Limited in January 2022, having previously served as Chief Executive of the Australian Water Partnership. Michael joined eWater following a 25-year career in international development, national security and sustainable development policy, including as head of the Australian aid program in mainland southeast Asia (2011–14) based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He then headed practices within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade working on political governance; water resource management, sanitation and hygiene; and the effective delivery of development assistance in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Earlier in his career, Michael headed the International Section of the former federal Department of the Environment and Heritage.


Professor Sharon Davis (Chair), Enterprise Professor, Water, Environment and Agriculture, The University of Melbourne  

Professor Sharon Davis is the Water, Environment and Agriculture Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, where she is involved in setting up new research programs and partnerships, including the proposed ONE Basin CRC. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the public sector at both the state and federal level leading water and environmental policy, technical and R&D programs. She is strongly committed to supporting gender diversity and inclusion in STEMM. In 2011 Professor Davis was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard University where she worked within the Harvard Water Security Initiative and taught at the Kennedy School of Government. She has a PhD in Catchment Hydrology.

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