Glass ceilings aside, millions of women are prohibited from accomplishing little more than survival. Not because of a lack of ambition, or ability, but because of a lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and children in the developing world spend untold hours daily, collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, then return to their villages carrying their filled 40 pound jerry cans on their backs.
An estimated 200 million hours are spent each day globally collecting water.3,5
A study by the World Bank and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. 1
Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the vast majority of households (76%). This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.3
In just one day, it is estimated that more than 152 million hours of women and girls' time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use.3,5
The lost productivity of people collecting water is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald's, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.
Resource LinksLook for more facts in our collection of Water Resource Links.
- Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). (2000). Linking Sustainability with Demand, Gender and Poverty: A study in community-managed water supply projects in 15 countries.
- Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). (2010). Financing On-Site Sanitation for the Poor, A Six County Comparative Review and Analysis.
- WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2010). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2010 Update.
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2002). The World Health Report 2002, Reducing Risks, Promoting Health Life.
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Evaluation of the Costs and Benefits of Water and Sanitation Improvements at the Global Level.
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health; Updated Table 1: WSH deaths by region, 2004.