Water is most alive when it moves. Coursing through our bodies and across the earth, this liquid life force has its own voice and its own path. Yet, when we block, force, and contaminate water it becomes sluggish and deadly. Its death is our death.
There is no greater threat to global public health than unsanitary water conditions, which are responsible for eighty-eight percent of disease, taking more lives than war, terrorism, and HIV/AIDs combined.
In order to heal the world's water we must listen to water itself, watch how it moves, and find out where it wants to take us. But we must also listen to those who are the world's water stewards—the women whose lives are intimately linked to water.
The strength of the rising water movement will only reach its full potential when it begins to flow with the global women's movement.
As the earth's primary water stewards, women are uniquely positioned to lead us toward a new, sustainable water future.
Just as water activists have a profound opportunity to realize the untapped leadership of women, women's rights activists must realize how essential water is to women's lives. Access to safe, pure and abundant water is one of the greatest—and most overlooked—sources of freedom and empowerment for women and their communities across the globe.
Because globally women in rural areas spend approximately one third of their daily lives fetching water, primarily for cooking, cleaning, and washing, enormous waves of time and human energy are freed up when women and their communities have access to water. Time liberated from the daily trek to water sources, and from caring for those who have become ill due to unsafe water, can be poured into education, income-generating endeavors, parenting, organizing, art and leisure.
When women are involved in decision-making around water stewardship—from the village to the highest-levels of policymaking—innovation results. New models of rainwater harvesting, storage, pumps, education and community stewardship spring up in the wake of this new paradigm of leadership.
It is these local solutions that keep water in motion, that gather the force and momentum needed to turn the tide on the global water crisis. It is these solutions that we must continue to foster in order to truly empower women to make waves toward a sustainable future.