Briefing 15 March 2012
“Women, Sanitation and Water: Access, Equity, Sustainability”
This Briefing was organized in collaboration with Felician College in observance of World Water Day, which is celebrated on 22 March. It also served as a follow up to the 63rd DPI/ NGO Conference “Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs” in Melbourne, Australia
What was the main topic of this Briefing?
The focus of the Briefing was on the importance of access to clean water and basic sanitation, and how women and girls are disproportionately affected when those resources are inadequate.
We also looked at the relationship between water, sanitation and sustainable development.
In most parts of the world, women and girls have the primary responsibility for collecting water for their families as well as managing household and human waste. Therefore, when there is poor access to clean water and basic sanitation, women and girls bear the biggest burden.
Despite the dependence of women on water, efforts aimed at improving water management and sanitation often over look their central role. It is crucial, now more than ever, to involve women, as well as men, in water resource management and sanitation policies.
What were some of the key points discussed?
• Water affects everything: education, health, poverty especially women and children 37% per cent of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 780 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of people every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.
• Progress on water and sanitation requires collaboration. One organization/ company/ NGO can not do it alone; we need to join together in the global fight to combat the worldwide water crisis.
• The importance of using social media to raise awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis.
• The important role played by women in managing water and sanitation was emphasized. As one panellist noted “it is women that manage [water] it is therefore women that hold the solutions to these crises”
• The benefits to communities from greater safety and security when water and sanitation facilities are well managed as well as when there are gender-responsive water and sanitation programmes.
Who were the panellists?
• Michael Forson, Water and Sanitation Specialist, UNICEF
• Daniel Bena, Senior Director, Sustainable Development, Pepsico
• Francesca De Ferrari, Human Settlement Officer, UN-HABITAT
• Dia Sanders, Student, Felician College