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Advancing Women Before the Well Goes Dry

Values, CompanyDeirdre HusseyComment

As you read this, 750 million people around the globe are searching for clean water. And most of them are women. 

The number of people without clean water access is only expected to increase with population growth, urbanization and climate changes. Some experts even predict the next world war will be fought over water.

Water scarcity affects every continent. And, in many countries, women are primarily responsible for finding and transporting water for all needs: drinking, washing, cooking and cleaning.

Moreover, nearly 800,000 women die each year because they lack access to clean water — more deaths than from AIDS, diabetes and breast cancer, according to the Institute of Health Metrics research centre.  And every minute of each day, a child dies of water-related disease.

Clean water is not only critical to a woman’s survival — it’s also directly linked to her family’s prosperity and her community’s strength. When women have income, they reinvest up to 90 percent in their families and communities.

But each day, millions of women accomplish little more than meeting the basic necessities for survival. Women walk miles, wait for hours and pay exorbitant prices for clean water. Then they carry the heavy load home.

This tedious, difficult work is time away from attending school, caring for their children and working at an income-generating job.

Imagine it: Millions of talented women spending their hours and energy on the issues confronting the world and their communities, instead of gathering water. Water is the key to the world’s most powerful resource: women.

Since 2002, Swasti Health Resource Centre has been working in India — one of the regions most affected by the water crisis — to improve lives and livelihoods by helping communities obtain access to potable drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Gap Inc., in partnership with Swasti, is building water filtration plants in rural Indian communities. One water filtration system already in place provides clean water to thousands of people across nine villages and 12 schools.

Gap Inc. has a long history of creating opportunities through innovative partnerships. This investment is another way Gap Inc. remains committed to providing opportunities for women to advance and communities to prosper.

Together we can liberate the power of women, one drop of water at a time.