When the world is marching towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal through universal access to water, hygiene and sanitation along with women empowerment, it is very crucial to recognize the interlink of water accessibility and gender employment. And considering the progress till now, this goal seems like unachievable since gender, water and job are viewed as estranged issue rather than the integrated one.
As been observed from the gender division of work in our society, the role of women has been inclined more towards unpaid reproductive one and one of the contributing factors for this is water scarcity. Relationship of women and water is indissoluble since, the burden of managing household chores falls on her shoulder including the sanitation and hygiene of the family. For an average, a women have to spend 39 minute of her every day time to collect fuel wood and water whereas, has to spend 6 hours for her household work, an hour for her children and 30 minute for old age care. In order to carry out these works she has to depend on water, which is not even accounted as her necessity so, in such scenario the chances for women to get out of their home and be involved in any productive activities is very minimal.
According to Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy Manager of Water Aid, “Even though literacy rate of women has increased statistically still the number of women enrollment in job has not increased specially in the south Asian Countries, which is credited to their Gender roles and water scarcity so, there is need to recognize the role of women and make water easily accessible.”
Relationship of women with water and job can be viewed as the integrated one since accessibility of water facilitates for the conscription in job directly or indirectly. For the women involved in the entrepreneur activities or any other WASH sector water supply may benefit her directly whereas for those women who don’t have any access to land, water supply could help them to empower through community farming, micro enterprise, hygiene management etc. Even though the participation of women has been made mandatory for the water user group but still the word meaningful and decision making is disdained which is usually the result of water tyranny. Easy access to water is not only about the saving of time rather it’s about utilization of that time for other productive activities. Beside this easy accessibility of water is also related with good sanitary and menstrual hygiene management, which is also another reason for the school and job withdrawal. Bargaining power of women which is considered to be low due to their low economic profile is mainly associated with the time poverty and making water accessible for them is important to ensure their participation and healthy life.
Along with the water accessibility, it is also necessary for the redistribution of work so that women can gain time for productive activities as, most of the unnoticeable and unpaid work goes on the share of women.
Neha Basnet, GUTHI