How Does Safe Water Impact Safety
In many countries, the presence or absence of a safe and sufficient water supply and improved sanitation facilities has an unequal effect on the lives of women and girls. Women and girls usually bear the responsibility for collecting water, which is often very time-consuming and difficult. Females are also more vulnerable to abuse and attack while walking to fetch water and using a toilet or open defecation site.
For all the water they need for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning – women walk miles, carry heavy vessels, wait for hours and often pay undue prices. The work is all-consuming. Once they are old enough, girls join this effort.
This may increase the exposure to the violence of those girls and women who live in households that lack safe access to sufficient water and sanitation facilities. Boys and men may also come across violence in accessing water and sanitation, with local standards around masculinity impeding their ability to avoid or report on experiences of violence.
Socially marginalised groups, such as people with disabilities, may have problems accessing latrines, or those from lower castes – where rooted discrimination may prohibit the use of common sanitation sources, may experience increased difficulties in safely meeting their daily water and sanitation needs.
Worldwide, 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. In many countries it is not acceptable for women to relieve themselves in the open during the day, so they wait for nightfall, just to have privacy. This impacts health and puts their safety at risk.