World Water Day 2022: The Water Crisis is a Woman’s Crisis

⏰ 3 Min

Water is so important for human life, civilization, economy, and environment that to draw everyone’s attention to the necessity of protecting water resources and the need to use it correctly and without wasting it, several days and weeks throughout the year have been named after water and its related issues. We are now on one of those occasions: World Water Week, which is observed in the last week of August every year. This year, the week is observed from August 23 to September 1.

Another related occasion is World Water Day, established by the UN in 1993 as an international day to highlight the importance of safe water and bring awareness to the world water crisis. Today, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by the year 2030.

The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The theme of World Water Day 2022 was “The Water Crisis is a Woman’s Crisis.” We always need to think about this and consider the impact of clean water in the world and make a difference. A staggering 784 million people live without primary access to safe water. That’s roughly 1 in 10 people on earth. 

Everyone deserves safe water. We must work to end the water crisis by constructing high-quality, lasting, safe water sources in the world’s most water-poor communities.

The Water Crisis is a Women’s Crisis

Some scholars and research institutions, like Lifewater, have recognized something else, too: that the water crisis is a woman’s crisis. It means that women in regions without access to safe water bear the brunt of the responsibility and the hardship.

And it starts young. It is common for young women and girls to be asked to stay home from school to help the family gather water. Even if they make it to school after a morning trip to fetch water, they often arrive late. This puts them farther and farther behind their classmates.

It gets even more complicated once young women begin menstruating. A lack of basic hygiene and sanitary bathrooms usually accompanies water scarcity, which keeps many girls at home during their periods. A UNESCO report estimates that 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during menstruation, which can add up to almost 20 percent of the school year.

Between these challenges and demands at home, many young women simply drop out of school in their early teens. This is a loss for the student and her community: by some estimates, a young woman’s earning potential increases by 25 percent for every year she remains in school.

In marriage and later life, lost time gathering water significantly reduces the productive farming time for women in parts of the developing world. With safe water nearby, it’s estimated that women could feed 150 million of the world’s hungry. Safe water and hygiene also drastically reduce maternal and infant deaths during pregnancy.

If it’s clear that the water crisis disproportionately affects women in every stage of their lives, then another truth should be emerging as well: providing women with clean water and sanitation training can change the world.

Given safe water, women use it to increase farming and business ventures, keep their children in school, and help their community. 

Let us end this post with a quote from  Lizzy MacRae Garvin, Manager of Program Quality at Lifewater.  She points to an essential and less noticed point: “Experiencing menstruation without a reliable water supply, social support, and private sanitation facilities often has lasting consequences, including a decreased sense of self-esteem, confidence, and educational attainment.”