The moment I learned I’m just a big wimp

March 8 is the 100-year anniversary of International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women and reaffirm our commitment to gender equality. This week, Poverty 180 focuses on women in relation to clean water, education, HIV/AIDS and gender-based injustice.

It’s a girl’s job: The back-bending task of collecting water

In the two-thirds world, collecting water is a job for females. The United Nations estimates that in just one year, girls and women in the average Ugandan household will spend 660 hours collecting water…and it’s probably not safe water. This daily chore not only is time consuming but also costly for future generations.

Understandably, many people collect water from the closest pool or river.
Such murky water almost always leads to sickness and, often, early death.

If you have to walk a long distance to collect water every day (or several times a day), you probably can’t go to school (as in the case of my friend’s sister in Sudan, Nyadent). Historically, this increases your chance of being married off at a young age, which means you’ll get pregnant soon thereafter, and the cycle of poverty continues.

Accessible clean water is a foundational need that can change not only
the present but also the future for a community locked in extreme poverty.

In all stages of life — from young to old — girls and women walk long distances to find water, they wait in long lines, and they lug it all the way back home in plastic containers weighing upwards of 40 pounds. I got just a taste of this a few years ago on a short visit to Rwanda.

I had good intentions…. I wanted to help a young girl carry her water back up the steep hill to her home. I mean she does this every day! Today, at least, I can give her a break. I made it a few hundred yards before my arms started to shake, and by the time we finally reached her home, I was out of breath and shocked that this chore was for such a small girl (she was no older than 10).

In Africa, Asia and Latin America, FH improves access to clean water by installing wells and water-catchment systems and by teaching people to boil the water collected from open pools before using it.

To help save lives and end extreme poverty, join Poverty 180’s WATER cause for only $9 a month.

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