At 19 years old, my French professor asked me if I believed in female solidarity, strengthening the core of women’s empowerment by supporting other females. At the time, the concept didn’t mean much to me. As I grew more aware of the issues women face around the world and of the exemplary women that spark positive change, it has developed into one of my fundamental values.
March is a time to not only celebrate the commencement of spring, but it is also the season to raise our voices for both women and water. As global citizens around the world stood together on March 8th for International Women’s Day, we must also stand behind our nearly 750 million other counterparts who face each day without access to safe drinking water. Let International Women’s Day serve as a reminder to us of the importance of safe drinking water and sanitation. Let it remind us of the girls who are struggling to stay in school because they don’t have a bathroom in which to manage their menstruation in a safe and hygienic way. Let it help us remember the women who spend 25% of their day collecting water for their families.
World Water Day is celebrated each year on March 22nd to inspire positive change for the global citizens who suffer from water-related problems. This year, I’d like to draw attention to a notable woman who has empowered hundreds of women through water: Gemma Bulos. As the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI), Gemma works to create water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives that are led by local women in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya through providing training and coaching. Through GWWI, women have learned how to build biosand filters, latrines, and rainwater harvesting tanks. Over 36,000 people have access to clean water and sanitation because of the efforts of the women of GWWI. Rose, a graduate and Fellow of the GWWI training program, said that it not only changed her life, but everyone’s around her by providing:
- Increased productivity,
- Financial independence, and
- A significant reduction in violence against women.
Empowering women through water has a ripple effect with exponential benefits. One woman has the power to change her community through her leadership in WASH efforts, such as building a water storage tank. One community has the power to change a nation through economic gains as a result of WASH projects. And one nation has the power to inspire the entire global community. So in this month of International Women’s Day and World Water Day, let’s be thankful for the opportunities that water can give to women, and let’s recognize the women who change their communities through water.
WASH Advocates is proud to support the empowerment of women through water. You, too, can help start the chain reaction.
- This year’s theme for World Water Day is Sustainable Development. Go blue for water on Friday, March 20th to show your support and get the conversation started on social media using #Blue4Water
- Join an existing event near you for World Water Day
- Check out WASH Advocates’ Facebook and Twitter feeds
- Learn more about organizations empowering women through WASH:
Holly Kandel is a Research Assistant at WASH Advocates, and a senior at SUNY Geneseo in New York.