The roles of women and men are considered in all BESIK activities and the role of women is promoted actively by the program with its partners. As a result, gender equity has been improving in the WASH sector in Timor-Leste. There is better understanding of the importance of gender within the National Directorates for Water Services, Basic Sanitation, and Water Resources (DNSA, DNSB and DNCQA) as evidenced by annual plans which include minimum quotas (50% women in any new recruitments) and in community structures.
Women’s intake into community water management groups (GMFs) significantly increased after 2010 (when 30% quotas were introduced) together with gender sensitive materials. Women’s participation in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities at community level grew together with increased emphasis on the importance of women’s involvement in community decision making. Women began increasingly taking up technical roles within GMFs. However, there has been little change in the overall percentage of total female GMF members since that initial increase and this need to be explored.
Several studies were completed in 2013 to inform BESIK’s understanding of the functioning and capacity of Water Management Groups (GMF) with a significant focus on women’s roles. The GMF Study reports a positive correlation between women's participation, GMF functionality and water system functionality. Small in-depth inquiries provide potential explanations: women are effectiveness as people managers and problem solvers, have skill such as managing money and a stronger commitment to functioning water systems (as primary users and collectors of water).