Women And The Water Crisis: Why Tackling Two Top Global Challenges Will Be A Force Multiplier For Change
This article forms part of a series from contributors to GenderSmart’s Gender and Climate Investment Working Group. For many, Gender and Climate Investing is a new field, but there is already a lot of great work and experience to share. By showcasing powerful examples from across the investment ecosystem, Working Group contributors are using their voices in the lead up to February’s GenderSmart Investing Summit and beyond to highlight the important role a combined gender and climate lens can play in delivering a just, green economy transition. Through this series, we hope to inspire the adoption of this approach across the financial system.
The world faces two grave challenges: the global water and sanitation crisis, and gender inequality – namely the health, educational, and economic disparities affecting women worldwide. These global crises are inextricably linked, but fortunately, so are their solutions.
Over 2.6 billion people – seven times the U.S. population – lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Communities across every part of the globe are affected, and the toll on human life is simply staggering. Among these, women and girls are disproportionately affected, and with devastating impact. Educational and economic potential are stunted due to the collective 200 million hours women spend collecting safe water every day. When time finding a place to relieve themselves is factored in, that figure surges to 266 million hours.
Because of this, women are left little to no time for school, work, or caring for a family, and are four times less likely than boys to regularly attend school. Ensuring that women no longer have to walk hours each day to collect water could enable 46,000 women to earn a college degree every day. By ensuring that all women are able to work, global GDP is projected to rise by $28 trillion annually.
Just as the crises of a lack of access to clean water and sanitation and of gender inequality compound each other, the solutions are symbiotic. Women are the key to solving the water crisis —and this starts with guaranteeing that women have a seat at the decision-making table. This is why the co-authors of this article are coming together as three voices from the philanthropic and impact investing communities to advocate for increased investment in, and representation of, women.
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