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Interview 6/7: YWP-ZA showcases inspiring women contributing to South Africa’s water sector

Suvritha, ‘Suvi’, Ramphal, vice-chairperson of the Young Water Professionals South Africa (YWP-ZA)

Water&Sanitation Africa magazine interviews Suvritha Ramphal, vice-chairperson of the Young Water Professionals South Africa (YWP-ZA) – a division of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA):

1. What are your current professional activities?

I’m the program me officer at the Danish Embassy. My responsibilities include the promotion and support of bilateral cooperation between Water Ministries and other stakeholders in South Africa and Denmark.

2. As a ten-year-old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be (and still aspire to being) a singer. One of those, big lights, big stage, big crowd kind of singers.

3. What has been your journey as a water sector professional to date?

It’s been fun, hard work, and required a lot of commitment. Mostly fun though because I get to meet so many likeminded people, and my circle of friends and network keeps growing.

4. What personal strength has assisted you in your career trajectory?

My determination; even when I feel like I’ve failed my perseverance to always keep going and never give up on my goal is what keeps me moving forward.

5. What drives you day-to-day?

Everything that I do not know that I want to know; curiosity and wanting to always build on, learn and acquire new knowledge.

6. How do you balance work-personal commitments?

Weekends are for family, myself, and friends. This seems to work well for the time being, although one day I may need to adjust and find another way to spend more time with my family and friends.

7. Now that you are working, what tip would you give your ten-year old self?

Don’t give up on your 10-year-old dream!

8. What inspires you about the water sector?

The many inspirational, motivated and committed people I get to meet everyday.

9. What are the main challenges to implementing water and sanitation for all?

People’s current behaviour and attitude towards becoming more resilient in all aspects of water and sanitation is the main challenge. This may not be the case in the developed countries, but in a country like South Africa, with the water scarcity challenges we face, it is the responsibility of every one of us to be conscientious about of our use and disposal of water. We need to make decisions not in the moment but for the future.

10. How are women’s experiences in the water sector different from men’s?

There are far too many all-male panels, and speaker-presentations , and the like at prominent events – especially given that there are many equally qualified women in the sector.

11. What role has YWP played in your life to date?

What role hasn’t YWP played in my life? It has allowed me to grow and develop in my career, explore my passion, connect me with amazing people and build my profile in the South African and international water sector. As a bonus, I have an unquestionably supportive network of colleagues and friends.

12. How is YWP helping increase the women’s share in the water sector?

The last three YWP chairpersons were women – this sends a powerful signal to the water sector community, that the next generation of leaders may just be women. I expect this exercise, of gathering responses from the women in YWP to demonstrate exactly how YWP has helped to increase women’s share in their water sector.

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