Consider this: You’re a 20-something woman, you have 3 kids and a husband, and you will live a home made from concrete and mud, with a straw roof and an open fire stove just outside the main entrance to your house. You don’t have a toilet, and you don’t have a sink. You wash your dirty pots and clothes in a stream about a mile away from your house, and so does everyone else. You walk two miles a day with a massive tub on your head and shoulders to fill it up with water for the day, and sometimes twice a day if you need more water. Some days, you walk all that way and there is no water. You don’t have a toilet, so you can’t go to the bathroom when you need to, and feminine hygiene products are not available to you. On top of that, it’s dangerous to be a woman trying to go to the bathroom after dark in many areas of the world, and you can get raped just trying to go pee. Just imagine that for a minute. It’s estimated that ⅓ of the entire world population does not have a toilet, which means about about 1.5 billion women in the world go through this every day.
So why do we need to talk to women about clean water and access to it? Because it affects them the most.
Changing the Way We Talk About Water
At this point in time, we talk a lot about why clean water is important for health, but we’re mostly talking to men because they have the money in these areas. But if a man can go pee in the trees behind the house and doesn’t have to carry water 2 miles home, why would he be convinced that access to water or even a toilet is important? He won’t.
By addressing women, we’re not only encouraging them to increase the health of their children (who drink water laced with fecal matter, E. coli, and more), but increasing their health and safety as well. By addressing water as a personal and public health issue, many women will see that they do in fact need access to clean water. It helps them provide for their family easier, and is safer and more effective than their current methods.
How to Get Women to Invest
It’s easy to say that just showing women how running water could change their lives will make it easy for them to start looking for ways to get it, but the reality is they do not control the finances or make their own money in most cases. So what do you do? Many programs have started providing education and support for women who don’t have access to clean water, and also getting women to start communities and groups to help them petition for wells in their villages, easier access to tap water, and to encourage the community (and their husbands) to invest in something so life-changing.