Those are just a few of the words we could use to describe the incredible women we’ve met over the years. These are women who raise families, start businesses, and perfect their crafts.
Women who are capable of so much—especially when they’re relieved of their 40-pound (about 20 kilos) Jerry Cans and their long, dangerous walks for water.
But the reality is, women and girls are disproportionately responsible for collecting water in nearly every developing region. As we spend this month celebrating and observing International Women’s Day and World Water Day, we want to share that reality with you.
For women, collecting water steals time
We’ve met young girls who walk in the 115ºF (46ºC) heat of the Sahel Desert to collect water from 1,000-year-old holes. We’ve met women in Ethiopia who walk to the river before sunrise and don’t get back until after lunch.
We’ve even met mothers in Mali who sometimes sleep next to an open water source so they can be first in line when the water refills the next morning.
For women, collecting water limits opportunities
When we met 8-year-old Rita in Nepal, she was crouched down at the front of a long line, scooping water from a rocky basin into her metal water container. It was just after 6 a.m., and Rita and her mother had been waiting in line to collect water for their family of nine since 3 a.m.
This isn’t an uncommon experience for young girls living in rural, mountainous parts of Nepal. Every day, they can spend hours waiting in line for the nearby source to refill or trek miles down the mountain to another dirty water source far below.