Foreign Minister underlines water and sanitation as critical to prospects for women and girls in Pacific region and beyond


25 Mar 2015 | AU

The Foreign Minister of Australia, the honourable Ms Julie Bishop MP, gave a strong signal today that water, sanitation and hygiene remain key elements of the Government’s aid and development agenda.

In a speech delivered to a special parliamentary event marking WaterAid Australia’s 10th anniversary, Ms Bishop underlined access to safe, clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene as critical to her Government’s efforts in addressing the needs of women and girls, in particular in the Pacific region.

The Foreign Minister noted that “the impact of lack of access to clean water and safe sanitation is perhaps greatest on women and girls. Clean water and safe sanitation underpin almost everything else we are trying to achieve. Investing in community-based sanitation and hygiene programs is one of the most effective ways to improve the health, self-esteem, education prospects for girls and women”.

To mark this special event, the Foreign Minister was presented by Unilever Australia representative Aneta Ilievska with the Water for Women report. This report, co-authored by Unilever, WaterAid, Oxfam, Sunlight and social enterprise Next Drop, has been launched globally over the past few days to mark World Water Day (22 March).

Chairing the event, WaterAid Chief Executive Mr Paul Nichols thanked the Foreign Minister for receiving the report, and for demonstrating leadership in highlighting one of the Pacific region’s most persistent and pernicious crises.

Mr Nichols hopes today’s event, attended by Ambassadors from the Pacific and other parts of the world, MPs, Senators, big business and NGOs, will prove to be a catalyst for more concerted efforts from all of these stakeholders in addressing the global water and sanitation crisis:

“Everyone in the room has a role to play,” noted Mr Nichols. “The Water for Women report makes it abundantly clear that we will not achieve a world where everyone has access to these most fundamental of human rights of clean water and sanitation unless all stakeholders (Governments, business and NGOs) combine their resources and expertise”.

For Governments, noted Mr Nichols, “the incentive to invest in this area is strengthened by the understanding that water and sanitation are smart investments – for every $1 invested in water, more than $4 is returned in economic productivity”.

Mr Nichols expressed his delight at “the Australian Government’s ongoing support for a dedicated goal on water and sanitation in the Sustainable Development Goals to be agreed in September this year”.

In concluding her speech, the Foreign Minister congratulated “WaterAid on the work it has been doing over the past ten years. Your collaborative partnership and innovative approach has been making a difference to the lives of our neighbours and strengthening our region to deliver the prosperity and stability that we need. Long may your good work endure”.

Click here to see article written by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in foreign aid on the Mama Mia website.

Click here to see a video address by Catarina de Albuquerque, Vice-Chair Sanitation and Water for All, which was played at the event.


Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager: 03 9001 8246

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit: