Soroptimist International Supports a Gender Approach to Water Management
Everything alive needs water! According to NASA, places with water are of the greatest interest when looking for life beyond Earth. Planets with ample water to support all human activities are desirable. However, back on Earth, some regions and people are deprived of water. The story of these regions comes into sharp focus this time of year when water is placed high on the global agenda, but every year their situation remains the same.
For example, according to the UN-Water, 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries. The Global Water Institute estimates that by 2030, intense water scarcity could displace 700 million people. More startling, UNICEF termed the 200 million hours women and girls spend collecting water daily as a colossal waste of time.
This fact is important for Soroptimists because women and girls bear the brunt of the burden regarding water sourcing. Women and girls are typically in charge of household cleaning and cooking, both critical activities involving water. Also, because of their biological makeup, many women have a more dire need for water than men do at particular times of the month to maintain their hygiene. Despite this need, the activity of women collecting water threatens women’s health (pregnant women), education (girls sometimes are prevented from going to school to fetch water), and livelihood (it keeps them from more profitable pursuits).
In exploring why gender matters in integrated water resource management from a policy perspective, the UNDP reported that a gender approach places emphasis on the empowerment of women and vulnerable groups. Outsiders cannot empower vulnerable groups, but organizations such as Soroptimist International can build awareness and provide instruments to support change, such as advocating for improved laws.
Therefore, Soroptimist International calls on its members to help raise awareness in their communities and worldwide. Listen to the call from development agencies and governments for civil society involvement. At a local level, encourage careful water use at home, school, and work. Consider how consumption patterns affect water use, and look at how small changes can directly or indirectly decrease water use. Lobby your local decision-makers regarding this issue and ask them what steps they are taking to make water usage more sustainable.
Dr. Pamala Proverbs, APR, ABC