Having ready access to clean water is something that many of us in this country take for granted. However everyone would treat water much differently if we were forced to walk for miles every day just to transport a few gallons of this precious resource.
The Women’s UN Report Program & Network (WUNRN) is helping to get the word out about how the lack of access to potable water disproportionately impacts women and girls with a new cartoon calendar designed to help raise awareness about this vital issue. The calendar features artists from across the globe using comics to entertain and educate people about how proper water sanitation and simple infrastructure investments can radically change the lives of millions. Easy access to clean water can prevent illness, help girls to thrive, and can completely transform entire communities.
Many females are forced to spend hours each day simply hauling water home, an exhausting responsibility which often prevents them from obtaining an education or holding a steady job. The Water and Sanitation Program offers this insight into the gender disparity:
“The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men. Each year, an estimated 3.9 million more women under the age of 60 die in low- and middle-income countries. The productivity of women who survive is compromised by multiple factors, including inadequate access to water and sanitation facilities. Hours spent fetching water each day leave less time to pursue economic activities and reinforces employment segregation, limiting women to the lowest paying and most unstable jobs.
The sustainable solution, therefore, is not to tackle the disadvantages faced by women and girls, but to render those disadvantages irrelevant by improving institutional quality. For example, if schools are equipped with safe, private sanitation facilities, girls are more likely to stay in school.”
The educational calendar can be downloaded online in English, French and Spanish versions. Here are a few more cartoons from the 2012 water sanitation project, along with some compelling gender disparity and water access statistics that accompany the art:
Less than 20% of seats in national parliaments are held by women.
In Africa, an estimated 40 billion working hours per year are spent carrying water. In rural Kenya, each household may make up to seven trips a day — usually by women or girls.
Providing full household coverage with water and sanitation infrastructure could lead to a total reduction in child mortality by 2.2 million child deaths per year in the developing world.