“As the weeklong international conference on water concluded Friday, it was left to one of the keynote speakers from the United Nations to focus on a much neglected perspective on water and food security: the role of women.
Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of U.N. Women, told delegates that development can be neither sustainable nor inclusive if it does not free women and girls from “carrying heavy buckets of water every day”.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 71 percent of the burden of collecting water for households falls on women and girls, says the U.N.’s 2012 report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Currently, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend an average of about 200 million hours per day collecting water, and a whopping 40 billion hours per year, according to the U.N. Development Programme.
“And that’s a billion with a B,” Puri emphasised to IPS hours after she made an impassioned plea for gender equality and women’s empowerment in relation to food and water security.
Speaking at the closing session of the conference, she pointed out that although women carry, literally and metaphorically, most water-related tasks – playing a key role in food production, especially in subsistence farming, and performing most of the unpaid care work -their participation in decision-making processes on water and food management remains very low.”
Read more: IPS