Thanks to our friends at Seeds of Hope for the words
As Lillian rises, she peers at her sleeping family. She steps out of their home onto a path that she hopes will lead to water. The early morning sun creeps toward the horizon and the stillness belies the bustle that will soon begin once the sun has fully risen. Her steps are graceful and quick, and she is soon joined by friends, sisters, nieces and aunties. The path leads them miles away from their homes to the stream that is the only source of water for their community. She swirls her jerry can across the surface of the murky water, and finally fills it before hoisting the 25kg container onto her head. By the time she returns home, the sun is shining brightly, and she must begin the work of cooking, cleaning, and caring for her family with the water she has collected.
Lillian is one of over millions of women throughout the developing world who will make this water walk today, and every day for most of their lives.
In honor of World Water Day, we mirrored this type of unnesserary drudgery by walking the 5 km from Heuston station to the O2, highlighting the important role empowering women with access to clean water plays in sustainable development. Women in places like rural Malawi can spend many hours a day searching for water, and the water they walk miles to find is often contaminated or insufficient to meet all of a family’s daily needs. When there is not enough water, these women are unable to promote lifesaving hygiene practices. When the water is contaminated, there is often nothing they can do to keep their children from contracting water borne diseases like cholera and schistosomiasis resulting in vulnerable members of their families suffer and sometimes die from preventable diseases.
Providing communities with clean water enables women to introduce practices like regular hand washing and sanitation into their families’ lives. They are empowered to spend their time on income-producing activities and given the dignity that comes with knowing their efforts bring health rather than sickness to their children. Women in the developing world typically bear the responsibility of meeting many of the basic needs that enable people to successfully and consistently engage in community development projects. Having safe, clean water changes this responsibility from a back-breaking burden to a hope-bringing freedom.