ON WORLD WATER DAY

GRADUATE WOMEN INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS THE UNEQUAL EFFECTS OF WATER SCARCITY ON WOMEN AND GIRLS’ EDUCATION


Geneva, Switzerland, 22 March 2024

On this World Water Day (WWD), Graduate Women International (GWI) underscores the critical intersection of water scarcity and gender inequality in accessing education, highlighting the disproportionate impact on women compared to men. Emphasising the urgent need for action, GWI advocates for heightened awareness and intervention in water-related issues, which directly threaten women’s and girls’ access to education and empowerment. As example, its 2023 WWD infographic revealed globally, 29% schools lack basic drinking water services, impacting 546 million schoolchildren.

The systemic gender inequalities ingrained within societies further exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls, particularly evident during environmental crises, such as those leading to water scarcity. GWI is taking a stand to address this pressing concern, emphasising that an overwhelming seven out of ten women and girls are responsible for fetching water, which directly influences women’s and girls’ access to education, proper menstrual hygiene, and overall socio-economic opportunities (UN Women). “Water scarcity is a critical issue affecting the most vulnerable in our community. As advocates for lifelong education for women and girls, we are dedicated to addressing these structural gender inequalities, especially for women and girls in economically disadvantaged countries,” said GWI President Patrice Wellesley-Cole.

Water scarcity has profound effects beyond physical strain. For countless women and girls, the daily journey to fetch water involves traversing vast distances, spanning several kilometers, and consuming hours each day. According to UNICEF, these efforts collectively amount to at least 200 million hours daily. This reality burdens their physical and mental well-being and obstructs their education. The time spent fetching water diminishes study opportunities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and gender inequality. Often, this burden forces girls to abandon education entirely, perpetuating intergenerational poverty.