Women and children are the most affected by a lack of access to clean water.
According to UNICEF, girls individually waste 200 hours each year collecting water for their families that could be better spent doing some other productive activity. Multiplied by all of the girls that are forced to do this around the world, this amounts to roughly 200 million hours of wasted time.
This number is based on the girls worldwide who must go on treks everyday just to retrieve the cleanest available water in the surrounding areas. They collect bucketfuls every time and make the journey back home with the heavy load.
The newest study revealed that girls and women collectively spend 50 million hours more than experts previously thought.
“It would be as if a woman started with her empty bucket in the Stone Age and didn’t arrive home with water until 2016. Think how much the world has advanced in that time. Think how much women could have achieved in that time,” said UNICEF’s Chief of Section of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Sanjay Wijesekera.
Girls and women are the primary retrievers of water because a boy’s education and the men’s ability to work and sustain the household is seen as more important than a girl’s needs. The burden of lack of accessibility has therefore always directly affected girls in this way. If the task of getting water takes more than 30 minutes, it is often deferred to the female in the house, effectively getting in the way of their other daily tasks.
Many organizations are dedicated to lessening this burden by making access to clean water more readily available and reducing the time it takes to retrieve water. This means that women and children will have more time for education and personal tasks without having to worry about how long a daily trip to get water takes.
This year’s World Water Week focused on Water for Sustainable Growth, thereby promoting clean water for sustainable development and the growth of communities. More clean water access points would benefit women by advancing women’s rights through more education and empowerment and promote general health.
Water is something that many people take for granted around the world, but in some regions water is a critical part of everyday tasks and is cause for concern. By alleviating some of the time spent collecting water, communities can slowly begin to develop in a more equitable way. If you would like to support women and children more easily access this basic human right, you can do so here.
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