Did you know that India is currently undergoing a massive water crisis? An NDTV report predicts that 40% of India’s population will not have access to drinking water by 2030.
Any environment crisis affects different groups disproportionately – with the vulnerable sections facing the brunt of it. And across these sections, women face more challenges than men. Some of us can make it through crises with it passing by almost unnoticed. But what do women with less privileged socio-economic backgrounds have to face?
Women, having been assigned household responsibilities, have to walk long hours in the search for water for extended periods of the day. They are often not exempt from making long journeys to find water even if they are unwell, as their “lapse” in performance can have direct effect on the well-being of the elderly and children. This is particularly harmful for pregnant women, as they may consume lesser nutrients compared to the energy they are exerting, putting both mother and child at risk.
Lack of water also puts their health at risk as it decreases their ability to maintain menstrual hygiene. This causes young girls and women to drop out of schools and the workforce, reinforcing gender roles in the household and perpetuating their financial dependence on men.
In several regions in India, the archaic practice of allowing access to wells only to the upper-castes is still practiced. Not only are women of the oppressed castes ridiculed, harassed,, and stopped from obtaining water from there, but chances of them getting water elsewhere are also severed in instances where dominating caste groups have poured kerosene in other wells so that the water is unfit for use.
There are many more implications that water scarcity has for women. Watch this video to understand this emergency!