Women in Science: Tackling Global Issues

For International Day of Women and Girls in Science, eleven researchers share how their work addresses key global challenges. 

From building sustainable food systems to planning climate adaptation policies, IWMI researchers focus on finding water management solutions to improve livelihoods across Asia and Africa. For International Day of Women and Girls in Science, eleven researchers share how their work addresses key global challenges.

A farmer using sprinkler irrigation in Nothern region in Yagaba, Ghana.
Photo: Hamish John Appleby / IWMI


Diana Suhardiman

Research Group Leader – Governance and Gender

“My research conveys grassroots realities (re)shaping natural resource governance. It highlights the importance of farmer’s agency and local communities’ strategies to ensure food security and sustainable natural resource governance.”


Inga Jacobs-Mata

Country Representative – South Africa

“I tend to try to impact people a bit closer to my frame of reference. But coming from a non-white, under-privileged background, growing up during the time when two worlds collided (Apartheid ending on the one hand, and living through South Africa’s transition to a democratic dispensation), if my work has contributed to anything, then I would like it to have contributed to the empowerment of women and girls from similar walks of life – who can see themselves in me – and be better and achieve greater things than I ever could.”


Indika Arulingam

Research Officer – Social Scientist

“My work involves looking at how young people interact with natural resources for their livelihoods, and where and how these interactions can be supported so that they can better benefit different groups of youth.”


Petra Schmitter

Research Group Leader – Agriculture Water Management

“I very much enjoy leading my team at IWMI in developing, testing and scaling of new water management innovations to enhance sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Africa and Asia.”


Olufunke Cofie

Country Representative – Ghana

“For a number of years now, I’ve led multidisciplinary teams to provide innovative water solutions for resilient and sustainable development in West Africa.”


Soumya Balasubramanya

Research Group Leader – Economics

“My research examines the unintended consequences of well-meaning development interventions. These insights have been used by major development donors and  governments in developing countries to adaptively course-correct programs and policies.”


Aditi Mukherji

Principal Researcher

“I am currently leading the Water Chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report (AR6) cycle. This chapter, in Working Group II of the IPCC,  assesses the current impacts and future societal risks of various aspects of water insecurity (quantity, quality, disasters, among others) which are getting exacerbated due to climate change. The chapter also assesses the efficacy of various water related adaptation measures – now and in the future. IPCC reports are widely used by national governments for climate negotiations, and through this chapter, I hope to be able to convey the urgent need for greater adaptation action in the water sector.”


Barbara Van Koppen

Rural Sociologist & Gender Expert

“With our insights in local holistic water development and management for multiple uses, our team demonstrates and upscales community-led and gender equitable water services bottom-up and we decolonize water legislation in Africa from the top-down.”


Luna Bharati

Principal Researcher – Hydrology and Water Resources

“I have been applying holistic frameworks to assess resource availability and future use and development. My work assesses climate change risks and impacts, planning adaptation strategies from large river basins to small watersheds and farming systems. This impacts national policy, from the Government of Nepal’s Irrigation Master Plan to the Government of India’s National Mission for Clean Ganga.”


Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu

IWMI Country Representative – South East Asia and Myanmar

“Asia’s environment is at a tipping point. To protect the future of food, water and quality of life, we need to urgently change the way we use nature. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Asia Pacific Assessment, which I co-chaired, provides policy makers and investors an evidence base to enable more informed decisions about the sustainable utilization of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while still delivering on development agendas.”


Charity Osei-Amponsah

Researcher – Project Coordinator

“I am leading our EU funded REACH-STR project to provide insights on social transformation conditions that promote inclusive and sustainable rural development, and the adoption of climate change adaptation and mitigation practices.”

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