In many countries, women are responsible for finding and fetching water for their families. All the water they need for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning. They walk miles, carry heavy burdens, wait for hours and pay exorbitant prices. The work is back-breaking and all-consuming. Often the water is contaminated, even deadly. In these instances, they face an impossible choice – certain death without water or possible death from illness.
Once they are old enough, girls join this effort. They spend countless hours trying to provide this basic life necessity.
Women also struggle most from the lack of adequate sanitation, the often unspoken part of the water and sanitation crisis. The sanitation crisis for women can be summed up in one word: ‘dignity.’ Around the world, fewer than one person in three has access to a toilet. In many countries, it is not acceptable for a woman to relieve herself during the day. They wait hours for nightfall, just to have privacy. This impacts health and puts their safety at risk. About half of all girls worldwide attend schools without toilets. The lack of privacy causes many girls to drop out when they reach puberty.
The dual aspects of the water crisis – lack of water and of sanitation – lock women in a cycle of poverty. They cannot attend school; they cannot earn an income.
Providing Hope for Generations Ahead
Around the world, women are coming together to address their own needs for water and sanitation. Their strength and courage transforms communities. With the support of Water.org and its local partners, women organize their communities to support a well and take out small loans for household water connections and toilets. They support one another, share responsibility. These efforts make an impact, taking us one step closer to ending the global water crisis.
• Increased girls’ school attendance, level of education and literacy rates, as they no longer need to miss school to secure water for their families and have adequate and separate sanitation facilities.
• Improved health for women and girls who no longer have to delay defecation and urination.
• Reduced child and maternal mortality as a result of access to safe water, sanitation facilities and improved hygiene during child birth.
• Increased dignity and reduced psychological stress for girls and women particularly when symptoms associated with menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth can be managed discreetly.
• Reduced physical injury from constant lifting and carrying heavy loads of water.
• Reduced risk of rape, sexual assault, and increased safety as women and girls do not have to go to remote and dangerous places to defecate or to fetch water during the night.
• Increased recognition of women as having skills and knowledge outside the scope of their traditional roles.
• Strengthened voice for women in their families and communities to negotiate their own needs.
• New opportunities for women’s employment as well as greater autonomy and independence
Wouldn’t it be lovely to reach all these women and supply them with a water tank to harvest their own rainwater? We take things, especially water, so for granted.