The Remarkable Women of Rural India #InternationalWomensDay

March 2018

Today 8th March, marks International Women’s Day, a day to commemorate the movement for women’s rights and the achievement of women worldwide. Regardless of background or culture, women across the world achieve remarkable things each day, including the women of rural India.

Women are typically the main water collectors for a family in the rural communities of India where we work, sourcing water for drinking, washing, cooking and cleaning needs. Spending approximately a third of their lives fetching and queuing for water, women may walk up to five miles per day to capture water, carrying one or more ‘Matka’ pots on their heads which can weigh up to 20kg each. This back-breaking work is carried out each day by these strong, courageous women, regardless of whether they are ill or pregnant. Even after their relentless work, the only reward is contaminated water; water which can bring severe illness to their families. Yet, despite the huge concern, there is no other option for these marginalised families and the consequences are frightening. Each minute a child dies from a water-related disease.

In these rural communities, girls are also denied opportunity to reach their full potential. Their education is crippled by water-related issues, with more and more girls dropping out of school to support a basic human need. Whether it is to fetch water or to care for siblings whilst their mothers are fetching water, girls are failing to obtain the education they need. Schools within these marginalised communities cannot support the need of a growing girl either, with 4 out of 10 schools failing to provide working toilets, there is a lack of privacy for girls when they hit puberty. With little or no education, girls do not know their rights and lose control over their own future. Water and sanitation are integral to develop a future for these young girls, without it they cannot earn an income and the water poverty cycle begins again.

These admirable women and disadvantaged girls deserve a greater chance, they deserve more for the overwhelming lengths they go to each and every day. At WaterHarvest, it is our goal to ensure this is not the life for women in rural India and we would like to use International Women’s Day to celebrate some of the work we have done for many women so far.

In 2015 we launched our Water for our Daughters appeal, aiming to set women and girls free from the chore of daily water procurement. Our target for the appeal was to raise £25,000 so we could provide one daughter in each of our 50 villages all her water and sanitation needs, so she can become the change maker of her whole community. We were delighted to reach our target in 2016 as these 50 girls can stay in school and dream for the future again. With water at home girls are set free; after only two years’ work we have already seen a 30% increase in school attendance in just one village.

After seeing the life-changing impact our Water for our Daughters appeal had, we launched a new appeal in 2017: The Monsoon Promise Appeal. Our appeal has promised to provide 120 Roof Rainwater Harvesting Systems which can transform the lives of 720 people. Women and girls in rural India sacrifice their future opportunities for an education, or a chance of a better life fetching water for their families and this appeal promises to alleviate them from their exhausting duties. Our promise is for women and their families to effectively capture the monsoon rains, so they can gain personal safety with water at home, gain the freedom to go to school and spend time with their family and gain income to reduce crippling poverty. The appeal so far has raised £19,370 of our £33,600 target, meaning 69 Roof Rainwater Harvesting Systems have been funded, changing the lives of 414 people. Our promise however, is not yet complete as 51 systems are left to be funded, meaning 306 people in the project are still without access to safe water at home.

Although we are making big steps in our promise, we still need to raise an additional £14,230. If you would like to support our promise this International Women’s Day, please follow the donate button below. A Roof Rainwater Harvesting System is a promise of a better future, but only if we can provide them.

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