The theme of International Women's Day 2017 (8 March) is to celebrate women’s achievements and to help forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world.
In many countries, girls and women are responsible for fetching water for their families. They walk for miles, carry heavy buckets and may have to queue for hours. The work is back-breaking and time-consuming. Often the water is contaminated and unsafe to drink, even deadly.
Achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including putting an end to extreme poverty and inequality, rests upon unlocking the full potential of women globally.
Access to WASH (water and sanitation) may be just one factor in the difficulties faced by girls and women, but it is an area which has clear knock-on effects, from health and education, to economic growth and more.
Half the day collecting water
Eighteen-year-old Radha lives with her new husband and parents-in-law in the village of Yaarli in Tharparkar, a desert region of Pakistan. She has migrated four times in the last decade due to water scarcity.
“Weather patterns have changed,” Radha tells us. “The rainy season has not only become unpredictable but its volume has decreased significantly. A number of people in the village migrated this year because we had very late rains.”
“Even when we had water in the village, it was a toilsome journey to collect water; it took us half a day.”
Radha used to journey up to four kilometers from her home to fetch water from wells that were 200ft deep. The wells were so deep that it required the strength of several women to haul even a single bucket of water.
More time to do other things
As part of the HSBC Water Programme, WaterAid supported Radha’s village to capture rainwater and install solar pumps to extract water from the deep underground wells.
Working closely with local partner the Sukaar Foundation, the project brought local masons, community members, men and women, together to take ownership of the project and make it a success.
Life is now looking more prosperous for Radha and her family, and gone are the days when she spent half her time collecting water.
Her face beams with joy while showing us the solar pump close to her home where women are getting safe water from the taps.
“Water collection for us is now a matter of ten minutes, and it is easy as well,” Radha says. “We now have more time for sewing, socialising and taking care of our families.”
Over the past five years, WaterAid and HSBC have worked together to transform lives in six countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria. Together, we have reached 1.6 million people with safe water and 2.5 million people with sanitation and hygiene.
Find out more about WaterAid’s work in partnership with HSBC.