Invest in water, empower women
Invest in water, empower women
Climate impacts are first and foremost felt through water, whether this is too much or too little. This year we’ve seen flooding in South Africa, the current drought across much of Europe and the rest of the world, and increasing numbers and severity of Atlantic hurricanes. But less discussed is the fact there’s also a gender crisis of water; not just a climate one.
We see that a lack of clean water and access to decent toilets disproportionately impacts women and girls. This means they are also more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Collectively, women and girls spend over 200million hours collecting water every day, hours they could spend getting an education and working to increase their economic resilience against climate shocks.
We want to change this. We want to invest in water so we can unlock the potential of many impoverished communities and in particular address the gender inequalities in communities around the world that don’t have easy access to water. We want women to feel empowered, get an education, gain their independence and have a voice within their communities. When women have a voice, their needs are met, and their lives can be changed for the better.
So how are we doing this?
This year we jointly funded with WaterAid and Coca Cola ‘Gender Guidance for WASH’ to provide businesses and NGOs with support and knowledge to ensure women have equal access to, and agency over, the provisions of water sanitation and hygiene in their projects. On average every year, we deliver 20 WASH projects in 9 countries in the communities in which we work or source raw materials. This allows the community to have clean, accessible water in their village which also builds their climate resilience. And we’re now taking that one step further to implement our own guidance.
We’ve started a pilot in partnership with Care International in Kenya to have half of the WASH committee in the village as female. In every community we do a WASH project, we aim to set up a committee to tap into their local knowledge on the best place for the new water points, to ensure their upkeep and address any issues along the way. We’re aiming to improve these committees in a sensitive way to give women a voice so their needs are met. We’re starting a community dialogue on the importance of gender equality to tackle the social and cultural norms that prevent women’s equal access to WASH and to include men and boys in the process.
We hope that by doing this, we empower women and men across the village to embrace equal rights across genders to resources, education and employment.
We know that when women are involved in making the decisions on water, they disproportionately benefit from it, and increase the benefits to the community as a whole. And by investing in water and WASH projects, it can establish gender equality and build resilience to climate change.
But it’s only possible to address the climate, water and gender crisis through collective action. In addition to encouraging other companies and NGOs to adopt WaterAid’s ‘Gender Guidance for WASH’, we’re a founding member of the Water Resilience Coalition, as water is a shared resource and it’s only when we collaborate, knowledge share and support each other that we’ll be able to make a lasting and crucial change. We encourage all businesses who aren’t yet signed up to the Coalition to do so, so we can build resilience in access to water and adapt to climate change, together.
Find out more how we're preserving water for life in our ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan: