One of the most exciting aspects of the Global Goals is their interconnectedness. Previously, the multiple areas of development have been treated rather separately within their own categories. Now, however, we have a way to explore how social, environmental and economic development are all related to one another. This year, we are exploring how each goal and their associated targets need to see the achievement of each other in order to be fulfilled as a whole.
Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality, and Goal 6 aims to provide clean water and adequate sanitation for all.
In Australia, we are fortunate that, unlike in developing countries, women and girls do not bear the brunt of the water crisis. Therefore, today, we will look at how sanitation affects women differently to men in developing countries around the world.
In developing countries, one of the biggest issues when it comes to sanitation for women and girls is management of their period. Those attending school can face challenges during their time of the month as many schools in developing countries lack access to sanitation facilities causing many girls to drop out at a young age.
On top of this, the societal structure which places women and girls as the primary people in the family responsible for the collection of water causes difficulties in attending school, studying and / or working. If the nearest source of water is over 10 kilometres’ walk through rough terrain, it can take a few hours to collect the water, bumping school, study and / or work down the priority list. This societal structure is evident in over 75% of households in developing countries. It is estimated that women and children collectively spend 140 million hours per day collecting water. The time these women spend walking through remote areas alone increases their vulnerability and susceptibility to being sexually assaulted or attacked by someone during their journey.
Investing in clean water and sanitation is important for the economy. For every US$1 invested in water and sanitation programs, the global economy sees a US$4 return, primarily from women being able to acquire jobs and dedicate themselves to their work and from girls being able to receive an education.