Women, Water and Wellbeing: The Human Right to Water and Sanitation
Brief summary of presentation of information made
The briefing was given by Mr. Stefan Schweinfest Director of the UN Statistical Division
H.E. Dr. Caleb Otto Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations:
- ¼ of world population do not have access to safe drinking water, ½ world population do not have access to adequate sanitation.
- Access to safe water and adequate sanitation is a basic human right. Without this, it denies human dignity. Access to safe water and adequate sanitation is essential to women’s empowerment as generally it is women who carry water to families, and disproportionately affects women.
- Water is considered to be the “petroleum of the next century” where countries have already been in conflict with one another over water access.
- Ethics of sustainable development around water must be put into action by developing water schemes for the long term. Technology that is relatively inexpensive is available (eg salination systems, solar mechanisms) but need political commitment to make it happen.
- A great need exists to educate people globally about the value of the most precious resource – water - to safe guard its accessibility, distribution and consumption.
- Palau has recently declared a state of emergency due to drought and water shortage.
Emen Okon - Nigeria, Member of Trust Alliance and WoMin (Women and Mining Issues)
- Access to water and women’s livelihood in the Niger Delta is being destroyed by Exxon and other multinational companies. Oil is spilling into the water, killing aquatic life and contaminating source of drinking water.
- Between 2012 and 2014, 250 children have died due to contaminated water from rivers in Nigeria.
- Speaker stresses the need for a corporate women’s voice against capitalism and corporate power, and her personal work towards this.
Meera Karunananthan -The Blue Planet Project
- Capitalist greed is oppressive to women. Privatization of water has serious implications on poorest women.
- Deep inequality and dispossession exists for women. The burden is big because often environment and public health status are disregarded in order to return profits to shareholders. *Women bear the biggest burden as it limits their potential, health, ability to work.
- Free market logic fails to take account of marginalized peoples’ needs. Governments must step up and ensure public needs are met in water privatization ventures. Governments must be held accountable.
- “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds”
Christiana Z. Peppard - Fordham University
- The burden of uneven accessibility to water and sanitation on women are social, political and ethical matters.
- The value of water cannot be underestimated – there is no survival without water. Economics is not sufficient ethics when it comes to valuing water. The human right of water and sanitation provides an ethical language in our present day which acts as a catalyst for action and a call for accountability.
- Ethics is concerned about doing well, doing right and doing good, but regarding water it is questionable when questions are posed such as who gets water, who doesn’t, who gets water when and how do people get water or not? Why do some people get water and others do not? Whose benefits and interests are represented?
- Water is a right to life, it is essential to the achievement of every other fundamental human right.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
Embrace teaching about environmental aspects of the value, consumption and conservation of water supplies.
A need exists for advocacy to assist in promoting ethical practice in capitalism and corporate power around development that will compromise access to safe water.
There’s an importance for TSA to evaluate the consumption of water in its programs and services throughout the world – to note what’s working and not working.
Drafting and instilling new programs in areas of water scarcity to incorporate sustainable practices of water consumption, and keeping in mind of the marginalized groups with the barriers they face – often being women and children.
Web links for more information
Blue Planet Group: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/index.php/water-justice-toolkit/
Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis Book by Christiana Z. Peppard. An interdisciplinary analysis of the value of fresh water that generates timely and principled conclusions at the intersections of hydrology, ecology, ethics, theology, and Catholic social thought. Google Books. Originally published: January 2014. Author: Christiana Z. Peppard
WoMin - African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction: http://womin.org.za/