Empowerment

3 ways clean water can help girls & women realize their rights  

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Water is an essential part of life, yet many of us take it for granted. We simply turn on a nearby tap and out flows safe, clean H2O for our everyday needs. But in many developing countries, water is often found kilometres away, and even then, it’s not always safe to drink. 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water at homeImagine: that’s more than a quarter of the world’s entire population. In communities with limited or no access to water, the burden of collecting it often falls on girls and women. They can spend 25% of their day – or up to 6 hours – fetching heavy loads of water for their families.

But what happens when you increase access to clean water for families? Aside from the obvious benefits like improved health and reduced illness, clean water can help open doors for girls and women to unleash their full potential! Here are three ways clean water can help girls and women realize their rights. 

1. Helps girls stay in school and avoid child marriage

When girls spend six hours per day collecting water, they may not have the time or be too exhausted to attend class. Suppose a girl is consistently absent or late due to water collection. In that case, she might also fall behind on her lessons, providing less incentive to continue her studies and leading her to drop out eventually. 

 

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So how does clean water help change this situation? 

It’s simple. When girls have access to clean water either at home, at their school or within their community, a six-hour journey to collect water is dramatically reduced to minutes, enabling them to attend school. With education comes opportunity, and, according to research, girls who stay in school are less likely to become child brides or become pregnant as teenagers. An education protects girls, helping them become empowered women who decide their futures.

2. Reduces maternal and newborn mortality rates

Without access to clean water, girls and women face health risks in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Around the globe, 44 million pregnant women have hookworm infections due to a lack of clean water and sanitation. Hookworm, an intestinal parasite, puts a mother and her child at risk for poor birth outcomes, such as anemia in the woman, low birth weight and congenital disabilities in the newborn, and even death. Diarrhea is also a severe risk factor as it can seriously dehydrate and weaken the mother. 

 

It’s simple. When girls have access to clean water either at home, at their school or within their community, a six-hour journey to collect water is dramatically reduced to minutes, enabling them to attend school. With an education comes opportunity and, according to research, girls who stay in school are less likely to become child brides or become pregnant as teenagers. An education protects girls, helping them become empowered women who decide their own futures.

2. Reduces maternal and newborn mortality rates

Without access to clean water, girls and women face health risks in pregnancy, during childbirth and in the postpartum period. Around the globe, 44 million pregnant women have hookworm infections due to a lack of clean water and sanitation. Hookworm, an intestinal parasite, puts a mother and her child at risk for poor birth outcomes, such as anemia in the woman, low birth weight and congenital disabilities in the newborn, and even death. Diarrhea is also a severe risk factor as it can seriously dehydrate and weaken the mother. 

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Access to clean water at health facilities can also play a crucial role in preventing illness and infection. Without water for hand- and equipment-washing, HIV, tetanus and other diseases can be introduced to the uterus during childbirth, especially during C-sections. The consequences of these infections can be devastating and deadly in some cases. But they can be avoided by having a clean water source.

3. Protects girls & women from danger and harassment

Girls and women often travel far from home through desolate and treacherous terrain to reach a water source. Sexual violence and harassment are a serious threat as many girls and women leave in the early morning hours before the sun has risen. In addition, wild animals and snakes can pose a danger along the way. When clean water is available nearby, these risks are significantly reduced. 

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Clean water can help girls in crisis

COVID-19 continues to unravel decades of hard-fought progress for girls’ rights. Clean water can help millions of girls and women around the world unleash their full potential. Learn more on how you can help us Stop the Setback for girls before it’s too late. You can help girls access the supports they need to take back control of their lives, go back to school, live free from violence, decide their futures and provide clean water for families. Learn more about stopping the setback

 

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