Women and Water
By: Saira Vyas
The global water crisis continues to scare this nation and this world. This is something all of us know. But did you know that the water crisis disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls? First, in most households worldwide, women are in charge of collecting water for the family to drink, cook, and use for sanitation and hygiene. Each day women spend approximately 200 million hours collecting water for their families and it’s time consuming and physically risky. Second, women and girls are more vulnerable to abuse and attack while walking to and using a toilet or open defecation site. And third, women have specific hygiene needs during menstruation, pregnancy and child rearing. And the reality is that climate change is exacerbating these challenges. As resources become scarcer, girls are pulled out of school to tend to housework, fetch water, and salvage agricultural work.
Girls and women are disproportionately affected by this calamity, but they are also the ones who can initiate change. Women around the world are developing solutions and leading advocacy efforts at the global and local level. We need to empower, educate, and support these women - that’s a powerful solution to many of the world's most urgent challenges, including the climate and water crisis. Research repeatedly shows that educating girls is one of the most efficient, and durable solutions to the urgent climate crisis, and it is sustainable and builds resilience which will affect everyone around the globe.
Fewer than 50 countries have laws or policies that specifically mention women's participation in rural sanitation or water resources management, and women and girls are responsible for water collection in 8 out of 10 households with water off-premises. Therefore, women need to be at the table, using their voices, and countries need to ensure that there is participation from women in creating and adapting solutions and policies. Women are a solid and powerful catalyst for change, and they can transform the climate and water crisis that we are facing today.