Worldwide there are 2.2 billion people who do not have access to clean drinking water, 4.2 billion don’t have access to sanitation stations, and 4.5 billion don’t have access to a proper toilet. This is an issue that affects many people. Women and girls, however, experience the worst effects of not having water the most.

The connection between water and gender means that women are disproportionately impacted as they tend to be assigned the role of providing water for their families. This can involve walking miles to and from with heavy water drums on their heads. Not to mention, the task is so intensive that they are unable to pursue an education and risk their body’s physical well-being.

Additionally, inadequate toilets and water in schools and other establishments make handling periods very difficult for women and girls. Therefore, girls who menstruate miss a lot of school every month and sometimes end up dropping out because they fall behind and are unable to catch up.

These experiences, combined with health burdens stemming from waterborne diseases, inhibit the progression of communities and the economy. Addressing this inequality can mean alleviating diseases, increasing the education of girls, reducing gender-based violence, and so on.

Some B-corps like One Water are already working on providing clean water and sanitation resources to areas that need it most. This organization commits 1% of its yearly gross sales to fund clean water projects.

Women bear the responsibility of fetching water from the sparse wells within Rajasthan's vast Thar Desert. Trekking up the side of a sand dune, women expertly balance large clay water vessels atop their heads. Rajasthan, India
Women bear the responsibility of fetching water from the sparse wells within Rajasthan’s vast Thar Desert. Trekking up the side of a sand dune, women expertly balance large clay water vessels atop their heads. Rajasthan, India

3 Ways Women Benefit from Clean Water

1. Overall Well-being 

Being the household water purveyors means that women consistently put themselves at risk along their journey. With access to safe water, they’ll have the opportunity to reduce their physical burdens and minimize the amount of violence they could experience in their search for water. 

Furthermore, a person’s quality of life is going to significantly improve when a necessity like water is secured. Studies have shown that access to clean water significantly improved the mortality rate of children below five and reduced the chances of child stunting, schistosomiasis, and hookworm infections.  

2. Education

As mentioned earlier, women and girls are often robbed of getting an education when managing household water takes priority. 

Teenage girl writing on a notebook by Scopio from

Charity: water has seen up to a 15% increase in the enrollment of girls when they have clean water. This is so impactful when girls can miss up to 20% of school linked to the lack of menstrual resources.

Educating women to the same level as male students in relation to the economy can prevent some countries from losing more than $1 billion annually. The implementation of sanitation services in schools can contribute to safe conditions for girls while also making progress towards Goals 4, 5, and 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

3. Community Engagement

Clean water can also mean the ability of women to participate in their communities. 

A few MIT graduates created Saha Global, a nonprofit that works to get water to the people who need it most. They do this while compensating women entrepreneurs that work with them. 

Saha Global works in stages. The first stage being opening as many businesses as they can to provide access to water. Then they identify how everyone will be able to consume the water. Lastly, it’s about ensuring businesses stay open and are equipped to cover their maintenance costs and such. 

Saha Global has been able to put clean water in the palms of the women of these communities. Over 700 women were trained in starting businesses that provide clean water to over 100,000 people in communities that lack large water treatment plants or modern plumbing. 

This is just one example of what can be done if women were provided with the opportunity to give back to their community while also building their expertise and sense of agency.

Feel free to check out our article on community engagement!

Clean Water Issues Close to Home

The Flint, Michigan water crisis is a prime example of water injustice taking place in the U.S.’s backyard. It first began in 2014 when the city’s drinking water supply got contaminated by lead.

This environmental injustice has made many people ill. Some have experienced the outbreak of Legionnaires disease, and others have high levels of total trihalomethanes known to cause cancer.

Yet the government has reacted inadequately, local residents have stepped up, and the problem continues to persist.

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