Ladies of the Lake: Women’s Water Crisis

Water crisis

As mentioned in a previous article, women are the true last Waterbenders. The time that women – and children – devote to collecting and fetching water would be enough to build 20 Empire State buildings every single day. In addition to the hundreds of millions of hours invested worldwide in this daily endeavor, these women then spent the rest of their day using that same water to wash, cook, and clean. This leaves little to no time for personal self-improvement and personal growth. In fact, village girls haven’t got much to look forward to in life besides joining the water chain gang as soon as they are old enough. If that wasn’t already bad enough, the water that these noble females carry for miles in 40lb jerrycans and for which they pay ludicrous sums is frequently contaminated.

And by contaminated I don’t mean the wells that T.E. Lawrence encountered in the desert – brackish but drinkable. Over 840,000 people die of a water-related disease every year, of which more than 2,000 die of diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene every day. Diarrhea is more common in developing countries because of poor access to safe, potable water, among other reasons such as low levels of general health, hygiene, and nutrition. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year as a result of these inhuman conditions; sadder still, these deaths are preventable. About 10% of the global disease burden could be decreased with better water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and water resource management.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs turns these women into unwilling banshees; harbingers of watery death. But what choice do they have? Have their families go without water? Moreover, they are victims just as well; maybe even more so. In many of the underdeveloped countries around the world where less than one in three persons has access to a toilet, it is frowned upon for women to relieve themselves during the daytime. As such, they often have to wait until after dusk to enjoy some privacy.  Additionally, 50% of girls all over the world go to schools without toilets, which leads them to drop out when they hit puberty. They can’t earn an income without education, and therefore are unable to improve their station in life.

In order to address this inequality, entities like American nonprofit developmental aid organization work with local partners to assist women in organizing their communities to “support a well and take out small loans for household water connections and toilets. They support one another, share responsibility. These efforts make an impact, taking us one step closer to ending the global water crisis.” The results have been promising, especially in and health, education, and socioeconomic areas:




  • Increased school attendance, education level, and literacy rates for girls who do not have to miss school to collect water and have proper and private sanitary facilities.









  • Better health for girls and women who do not have to wait to defecate and urinate.
  • Low child and maternal mortality resulting from access to safe water, sanitary facilities, and enhanced hygiene during childbirth.
  • More dignity and less stress for women and girls when symptoms related to menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth can be addressed discretely.
  • Decreased physical injury from lifting and carrying water.
  • Decreased risk of rape and sexual assault and improved safety because girls and women don’t have to go too far to relieve themselves or collect water.



Socioeconomic opportunity

  • Increased recognition of women’s skills and knowledge.
  • A communal and familiar forum for women to voice their needs.
  • New employment opportunities for women.

Related Read:

Water is Benevolent: Throughts on World Water Day