On International Women’s Day, WaterAid is working to ‘Inspire Change’ on water and sanitation


7 Mar 2014 | AU

This International Women’s Day (8 March), WaterAid is reflecting on the one in three women around the world without access to clean, safe water and sanitation.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Change’. Women in many of the world’s poorest countries still bear most of the burden caused by a lack of safe water and sanitation: long hours spent trekking for water, ill health, and vulnerability if they must defecate in the open.

“Women and girls who must spend hours a day seeking water cannot spend that time at school or in income-generating activities. Eliminating that burden, and giving girls the time and opportunity to focus on education, will ultimately lead to healthier, better-educated families, who have a better chance of working their way out of extreme poverty,” said WaterAid Australia Acting Chief Executive Rosie Wheen.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, WaterAid is calling on Australians to walk 10,000 steps a day for five days to help raise $150,000 through its annual fundraiser Walk 4 Water.

“The five day challenge is aimed at highlighting the distances women in the developing world walk daily to collect water which affects their livelihood and quality of life,” said Ms Wheen.

“There are also 1.25 billion women and girls around the world without proper toilets, and many associated burdens. This is a crisis in health, in education, in economic development and in gender equality that simply cannot continue,” said Ms Wheen.

Some notable statistics on women and water and sanitation:
• An estimated 384 million women and girls are without safe water, and 1.25 billion do not have improved sanitation.
• Some 526 million women are forced to defecate in the open for lack of facilities.
• Women and girls without toilets spend an estimated 97 billion hours each year trying to find a safe place to go.
• Average primary school completion rates for boys in sub-Saharan Africa stand at 56%, but only 46% for girls.

This year WaterAid has highlighted women who are changing lives by stepping up on water and sanitation. Among them:
• Bashona, a mother in a slum outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, who joined a committee on water and sanitation to establish better facilities for her community and earn the respect of those around her.
• Fatoumata, our country representative in Mali, who can speak first-hand about the burden of fetching water herself as a young girl.

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 27 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 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation. For more information visit: www.wateraid.org.au 

• Around 2,000 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
• 768 million people in the world live without safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world's population.
• 2.5 billion people live without adequate sanitation; this is 39% of the world's population.

About Walk 4 Water

WHAT: WaterAid’s Walk 4 Water – walk 10,000 steps a day for five days
WHEN: 17 - 21 March 2014
WHERE: Anywhere – your workplace, school, or simply built into your daily routine
WHY: To raise money for WaterAid and walk in the footsteps of those without safe water
WEBSITE: www.walk4water.com.au
FILM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_YfarGpE8U


Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager: 03 9001 8246 or Kirrily.Johns@wateraid.org.au