Celebrate Water, Life and Women

Olanike
Posted March 21, 2015 from Nigeria
Mobilizing women to take the lead in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene drive in their Community
Representatives of WISE with women in Attarkar Community, Kaura Local Government Area.
Women and Girls at a water point
Women and Girls at a water point : Give women a chance to lead change in the water and sanitation sectors. (1/1)

What better time is there to draw attention to and also inspire action in the water and sanitation sectors, than today? It’s World Water Day and the theme for this year’s celebration is 'Water and Sustainable Development'.

The day has come a long way since 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day. In honor of this day, I celebrate the lives of grassroots women, as majority of them still lack access to safe water and sanitation.

Water is so close to their hearts, as the onus of collecting and managing water at the domestic front rests on their already overburdened shoulders. According to a United Nations Water statistics, “64% of households rely on women to get the family's water when there's no source in the home”.

Well the story is not any different for girls! “In many developing countries, women and girls walk on average over 3.5 miles each day to fetch water. Women often spend more than 15 hours per week gathering water” states a similar report.

I have never ceased to wonder why grassroots women are still denied of opportunities that will help them lead a much desired change in the water and sanitation sectors. A visit to Damishi, a community within the suburbs of Kaduna metropolis, did not leave me in doubt that women face so many challenges when it comes to accessing safe water and sanitation.

Women and girls of different ages surfaced from the nooks and cranny of the community to collect water in turns. For the more than one hour that I hung around the only functioning borehole in the community, not a single man surfaced to collect water from the point.

Near by, however, a group of young men were observably seated under a large leafy tree. They were chatting away, the whole time.

While women and girls spend long hours searching for and or collecting water, they have no say about where water points can best be located in their communities. Nobody cares to ask them about their water and sanitation needs; and preferred solutions.

The cost of leaving women out at all levels of decision-making within the water and sanitation sectors is quite enormous. Poverty, low self esteem and trauma have become the lot of many.

What needs to change for water safety and security to become a reality for women? As I reflect over this question and keep my ears close to the ground for answers, I can confidently say that a very important way forward would be to start recognizing women’s roles and their needs.

It's time to support women's leadership in the drive for sustainability in the water and sanitation sectors. Acess to safe water and adequate sanitation is a human and women's rights issue, and must be treated as such.

Today I celebrate water because water is life; and women are the custodians of that life. Happy World Water Day!

Comments 7

Log in or register to post comments
fefine Tonga
Mar 22, 2015
Mar 22, 2015

Women Are The Fabric Of Our societies. An educated and well connected woman can do a lot for her community. I believe in enabling such a woman.

Olanike
Mar 22, 2015
Mar 22, 2015

Dear Fefine Tonga,

Thank you for reaching out with your powerful thoughts. Yes, women can perform wonders in their communities when they are "educated and well connected' as you rightly expressed. I believe women can work towards creating such a life for themselves by believing in themselves, and commiting to any cause that will better the lots of women. Together we can!

Olanike

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 01, 2015
Apr 01, 2015

Dear Olanike,

I am always grateful that you write so beautifully about our need to care for the Earth, and here, the connection of women to water. To answer your honouring of World Water Day I went looking for messages from First Nations Grandmothers here, who have been walking around the Great Lakes, one lake each year, to draw attention to the need to take much better care of these 5 lakes, some of the last bodies of fresh water left. So I am sending two stories from Josephine, an Anishinaabe Grandmother, because she talks about the connection of women and water as you do. I hope that they carry you, dear sister, and lend strength to your protection of our precious Earth.

This first one, from the shore of Lake Superior, on the first walk:

“I was standing on the shoreline of Old Woman Bay, the sandy shore. I was standing there and the water was so still, so beautiful. I [was] just in adoration of the water. And [I was] just praying for it and praying to it. All of a sudden a big wave comes and it just hit me right up to my knees. It was so still. All of a sudden, it just came like that. I took my tobacco, and I’m standing and just laughing and feeling tickled by the coolness of the water on my feet. It was playing with me. I wasn’t scared. I was just surprised. “Oh, you’re teasing me,” I was telling her.”

From Lake Michigan, on the second walk:

“There were great big maple trees; four on this side, and five on [the other] side. On top they were shaped almost like an umbrella or an awning, but they were not touching...

I took my pail and I walked around. Not just me but the others too; [we] walked around and offered tobacco to each of the trees. And then when we were finished I kind of felt compelled to give them water. Because they were so old–old and dry. So I took the pail and I had a cloth, and I wiped the trees. You know, to give them some wetness. And when I got to the one over on the [other] end, I heard that man go “Hey!” I looked at him and he said, “Look, look!”I looked up and water was coming down from the tree. It was crying. And it wasn’t sugar water, it was pure water. This was in June. Maple syrup doesn’t run [at this time of year].I just prayed for that water and prayed for the tree, and I finished what I was doing.” She continued, to say that Aboriginal people had not visited that area for some time.

From: Aboriginal Women, Water and Health: Reflections from Eleven First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Grandmothers by Kim Anderson 

There is so much beauty, tradition and wisdom in this piece. I only found it today, thanks to your inspiration to go searching more deeply.

Much love,

Tam

Olanike
Apr 06, 2015
Apr 06, 2015

Dearest mama Tam,

Your reading and listening prowess is very impressive and fascinating. I remain drawn to this intrinsic qualities which make you an insightful leader, even as I continue to understudy you. Aha, I hope I get a passmark from you!

I am glad that you were so inspired to the point that you carried out further research. Thank you so much for sharing information about and stories  from the First Nations Grandmothers, as I am just hearing about them for the very first time. Kudos to you.

The stories are so touching and bear tetimony to the fact that nature is a living entity. I hope that humanity comes to realise appreciate and embrace this truth, enough to begin living in harmony with nature.

I share your thoughts that, "there is so much beauty, tradition and wisdom in the piece" about the First Nation grandmothers. Thank you for staying true to your passion and commitment. You are awesome!

Love and respect,

Olanike

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 07, 2015
Apr 07, 2015

Ah, dear Olanike,

I am understudying you! I wanted to surprise you with this gift of some of the words of these Grandmothers. 

With love,

Tam

Olanike
Apr 11, 2015
Apr 11, 2015

You are amazing! Your gift was well recieved and remains appreciated. Stay strong!

Warmly, Olanike

Apr 06, 2015
Apr 06, 2015
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.