Water crisis’ disproportionate toll on women can no longer be ignored

water pipe

STEPS member Lyla Mehta has written an article with Ria Basu for the Indian magazine Firstpost about the impacts of ‘water crisis’ on women. Often, access to water is about power and social relations, not just physical scarcity.

For most of us, accessing water is as simple as turning the taps on in our kitchens and toilets. But for a large number of the world’s population, access to clean and safe water remains a major challenge.

Even as recently as in 2015, at least 844 million people across the world — 12 percent of the global population — were still lacking basic drinking water services. These people still rely on unprotected wells, rivers and springs or take water directly from surface sources.

When water is not available at home, the burden of collecting, storing, and managing it usually falls on women and girls in most families around the world. Globally, in eight out of 10 households lacking water provision, it is women and girls who bear this responsibility…

Much has been made of the global water ‘crises’. However, most often than not, this has little to do with the physical availability of water.

Access to water is usually linked with unequal social, gender and power relations as well as to distortions in policies, planning and management structures. In India, water crises usually emerge because access to and control over water is differentiated due to caste, gender, and wealth. Thus, the water crisis is a socially mediated one, with water often flowing uphill to money and power.

Read the full article on firstpost.com.