Water is Critical to Improving the Lives of Women
Globally, 2 billion people struggle to find access to clean water. But of those 2 billion, who are affected the most? It’s women and girls.
The water crisis is a personal struggle for women and girls around the world.
In many communities, women and girls are in charge of cooking, cleaning, and maintaining good hygiene for their families. But all of these tasks are impossible without one thing: water!
According to the United Nations, 8 out of 10 households that have water off the premises have women and girls collecting water daily. The scarcity of water creates a disproportionate struggle for women that impacts their quality of life and even survival.
Human Concern International’s Water for Life projects strives to break down barriers for women to access water and empower their communities. Here are a few ways donating to provide access to clean water can empower women in developing communities.
#1 Women who have access to clean water can have more time to build a future
In communities where water is not close by, women and girls are tasked with finding, collecting and bringing water back to their homes. Some may even have to take the extra step to find a way to ensure the water is safe enough to drink. Collecting water is an extremely time-consuming task.
Collecting water is so time-consuming that globally women and girls spend about 200 million hours walking to collect water. Think about what could have been achieved in this time if women did not have to waste it finding water? That time takes away from tasks that can build a future for a woman and her family. If women did not have to spend so much time finding and purifying water, they could be using this time to gain an education, create a small business, grow a garden or spend time with family.
When safe drinking water is available to communities, female enrollment increases by 15%. That is because girls no longer have to take time out of school to go looking for water, but can focus on gaining an education.
One of HCI’s 2021 projects is to build shallow water wells in Kenya in villages within the Tana River County region, which is impacted by drought and water shortages. Local water wells eliminate the need for women to search for water from far away and focus on other essential aspects of life or going to school. HCI’s Water for Life projects helps ensure there are wells in the community that are safe to use and drink to give women and girls more time to create a future for themselves.
#2 Women who have access to clean water can avoid humiliation
On top of spending 200 million hours collecting water, women and girls also spend 266 million hours finding a place to relieve themselves. That is because 1.25 billion women globally do not have access to a sanitary latrine!
Do you see how a water crisis not only takes up time but removes the dignity of a woman going to the bathroom? The issue is even more complicated when women are going through their monthly cycles.
Finding water and a safe place to use the latrine takes up a significant part of a woman’s day. Unfortunately, this search for water puts many women at risk of being sexually assaulted by men when out alone looking for water or a latrine. Many of these women get pregnant, creating a vicious cycle that stifles their future out of poverty.
Aside from safety concerns, when there are no sanitary latrines for women and girls to use, they are forced to stay home or defecate in public. This terrifying reality means that by Grade 6, many girls drop out of school due to a lack of sanitary locations and choose to preserve their dignity by staying home. Imagine having to decide between going to the bathroom safely or getting an education?
You can help these women and girls by donating to HCI’s Water for Life projects. Your donation contributes to building wells and latrines in India or Afghanistan, whereas many as 4500 would benefit from each system installed. Or you can help repair existing toilets in Pakistan to improve the quality and dignity of women currently using them today.
#3 Women who have access to clean water avoid serious health complications
Women endure several harsh conditions or complications related to water. When water is not available in the area, women and girls spend all day fetching some for their families. They often return carrying 40-pound jugs filled with water. These heavy jugs can be straining on the backs of women, especially pregnant women. The journey to finding water is dangerous as well. Women are left to the realities of attacks from animals, strange men, or drowning from trying to get water from open sources of water.
Women and girls are also at risk of health complications if they are found in a situation where only unsafe water is available to use. Diseases such as E.coli or Cholera are commonly found in water sources close to areas where an animal or human defecation occurs. Without proper education on sanitation skills, some communities fall victim to illnesses from contaminated water sources. Illness resulting from drinking this water leads to absences from school, work, or complications to children breastfeeding from pregnant women drinking this water. According to the World Health Organization, 1 million deaths each year are associated with unclean births. Infections are responsible for 26% of infant deaths and 11% of maternal deaths.
Dirty water kills, and it’s mainly killing women and girls. With your generosity, HCI can continue educating women on safe drinking water practices and sanitation practices to ensure healthy and thriving communities. Empower a woman through safe water, and she can change her world. Our 2021 project in Somalia involves establishing a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program to ensure community involvement in maintaining safe water.
Check out the Water for Life projects for more information.
HCI has been proudly serving the Muslim community for 40 years, and through your generosity and support, our programs are continuously improving the lives of many vulnerable people. Each donation made enables us to further the mission of taking impoverished people from crisis to sustainability.
August 31, 2021
Human Concern International