March 8, 2012
International Women's Day: Empowering women through water and sanitation
This year's International Women's Day focuses on the theme of empowering rural women.
Sila Adeke at a WaterAid water point in the Katakwi District of Uganda.
WaterAid / Caroline Irby
As we know from direct experience, clean water, improved hygiene and safe sanitation are key to women's empowerment and poverty alleviation.
A total of 40 billion working hours every year are lost to water collection. With this responsibility usually falling to women and girls, gender inequalities in employment and education are reinforced.
Meanwhile, the ill health associated with a lack of access to water and sanitation undermines productivity and economic growth.
For young girls, the lack of basic water and sanitation services translates into lost opportunities for education and empowerment.
Women are at the heart of everything WaterAid does.
We have been making some great progress, not only in meeting women's
immediate needs for clean water, safe toilets and improved hygiene, but
also by championing their voices and their leadership. By involvement in
project design and community decision-making, we see women become
powerful advocates, holding local service-providers to account.
the UN announced that the world has met its target to halve the number of people living without access to clean water
, showing what can be done with the right political will and investment.
However, there are still 783 million people being denied this human
right and 2.5 billion people still lack access to an adequate toilet. As
a result, millions of women remain trapped in cycles of poverty and
WaterAid is committed to a world where everyone has access to safe
water and sanitation – critical to this vision being realized will be a
world where women can realize their full potential.
Water, sanitation and hygiene are key to empowering women, and therefore women are at the heart of everything we do.