Water has a decisive influence on women's* lives: from giving birth without sufficient water supply to limited participation in school lessons to hours spent procuring water. The latter means that women and girls have less time available to take advantage of educational opportunities and do paid work. This inequality of opportunities not only contradicts the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN, but affects the socio-economic development of the respective society.
Worldwide, women and girls spend 200 million hours a day procuring water.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is 16 million hours a day, whereas men spend 6 million hours on this task.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, children spend 4 million hours on this task.
*This article talks about the binary gender roles to highlight the social problem of inequality between women and men. Thereby we are aware of the fact that women and men are socially constructed and stereotyped gender roles that do not include all genders.
For women and girls, insufficient access to clean water and sanitation leads to various problems. Long walking distances related to the procurement of water and the lack of separated and hygienic sanitation facilities increase the risk of violence or sexual assault. Women and girls avoid public toilets due to the lack of privacy and unhygienic facilities. As a result, they stay away from school especially during menstruation or drop out completely.
10-20% of young women in Africa do not go to school due to limited access to sanitation facilities.
In terms of water, such unequal distributions of power shape the way it is used and the manner in which it is used. While women are mostly associated with private and domestic use, the planning as well as the construction of infrastructures for water is often the preserve of men. In administrative areas, too, the social distribution of power is interpreted in favour of cis-men and makes it impossible both to think about and to be aware of the realities of women's lives and the resulting needs. The focus on women and the importance of water in their daily lives is therefore crucial to any effort to achieve universal and sustainable water supply.
The efficiency of water projects is up to seven times higher when women are involved.