Jaewon SON, MA in International Development and Cooperation (Korea)

Jaewon holds a master’s degree in International Development and Cooperation and is currently working at the International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome. In her research, she focuses on the effect of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) on girls’ access to education using Lao Cai Province in Vietnam as an example. Her main goal is to show how access to clean water for girls in developing countries is essential to reach several UN Sustainable Development Goals.

INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD), ITALY

Research focus: international development, gender equality, and access to water, sanitation and hygiene

According to UNICEF and the WHO, more than a quarter of the world’s population has no access to freshwater and water facilities. Having the responsibility to fetch water for the family keeps women in perpetual poverty. Women without direct access to clean water still need to spend several hours each day to provide water instead of going to school or paid work. This exclusion from formal education furthermore results in an obstruction to participate in decision-making processes.

Jaewon’s research analyses the impacts of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) on girls’ access to education in Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. By focusing on the compulsory school age range in Vietnam from six to eleven, her study argues that inadequate access to WASH is one of the major barriers to girls’ education. The relationship between primary school attendance rates of girls and access to WASH at schools are examined during the study. Employing a qualitative research approach, Jaewon based her study on several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): No. 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, No. 4 Quality Education, and No. 5 Gender Equality. The linkage between SDG 6 and other SDGs helps to explain the importance of access to WASH for achieving sustainable development in general. By using the targets and indicators of SDGs 4, 5, and 6 in particular, her study not only analyses the connections between WASH, education, and gender but also the efforts of Vietnam to improve and the challenges remaining for this country. While researching the topic, she realised that sustainable development cannot be achieved without investing in people living in developing countries, and in girl’s education in rural areas in particular.

Jaewon’s interdisciplinary approach and her dedication to this highly relevant topic related to sustainability impressed the jury. This committed young scientist clearly points out that WASH can become a driving force for gender equality and thus for sustainable development in general.