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It has been estimated that 800 million people lack access to clean water and an estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to proper sanitation, with girls and women feeling the greatest impact. They are responsible for water collection in 80% of households without access to running water.
Based on data across 24 sub-Saharan countries from 2005 to 2012, an estimated 13.5 million women made round trips of more than an hour each day to collect water. Those walking long distances to collect water faced the risks of sexual violence, fatigue, injuries, and bone and muscle damage, as well as waterborne diseases.
Girls collecting water each day were also more vulnerable to pregnancy, exploitative labour and school dropout. A 2011 study in Ghana found that even a 15-minute reduction in water collection time increased the share of girls attending school by up to 12%.
Poor sanitation in schools also fuels gender gaps in primary and secondary school attendance. Girls in Bolivia, for example, have reported feeling fear, shame and lack of privacy at school during menstruation. Worldwide in 2015, half a billion women lacked toilets. Studies estimate that lack of access to clean water and sanitation costs up to 7% of GDP in some countries each year.
Access to clean drinking water and sanitation:
Access to clean drinking water and sanitation has improved dramatically in recent decades. More than half the populations of all six focus countries and over 90% of people in three countries were using at least basic drinking water services in 2015. El Salvador had the highest proportion of people using at least basic sanitation services (91%).
The six focus countries have designed water and sanitation policies with specific measures to target women to varying degrees: Colombia and Senegal perform well on the indicator, whereas and El Salvador and Kenya have no gender-responsive water and sanitation policies in place.
Here we highlight the ‘missing’ critical gender equality issues that we weren’t able to include in the Index due to insufficient globally comparable data. These ‘missing’ issues can help form part of an advocacy agenda calling for more and better gender data, contributing to existing calls for gaps in gender data to be filled.
In Kenya, once a woman becomes a widow she runs the risk of losing her land. Alice and GROOTS Kenya collected data on land ownership to change this.Go to the Story
My name is Aggry. I am a champion for female empowerment and increasing women’s participation in leadership roles here in Kakamega in the west of Kenya.Go to the Story
Rekha (32) joined Video Volunteers as a way to highlight issues related to gender based violence and discrimination taking place in her hometown in India.Go to the Story
Q: Thinking ahead to 2023, what single indicator or metric would best enable policymakers to know if real progress has been made on gender equality?
A: Proportion of women who experience any form of gender-based violence. Violence is destructive. Peace is constructive. If women live in a safe environment – at home, in their communities – gender equality and women’s empowerment can thrive.
Equal Measures 2030 / Ipsos Mori study, 2018