Why investing in water is at the heart of empowering women

For Business Leadership Month, Sir Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid UK and Prof Helen Pankhurst CBE, senior advisor at CARE International outline how corporate water stewardship can play a role in delivering an equitable future.

Why investing in water is at the heart of empowering women

We’re at a critical moment. This week, the UN is convening the first Water Conference in 40 years, to urgently bring businesses, governments, and civil society together to review the slow progress against SDG 6 – the promise that everybody would have access to safely managed water and sanitation by 2030. At times like these, collaboration becomes paramount and that is why you are now hearing from three voices, spanning the business and NGO sphere, to give our collective view on the action needed to accelerate change.

Globally one in ten people do not have clean water close to home. And the burden of water collection almost always falls on women and girls, who are disproportionately impacted. They miss out on education, earning money and their independence, whilst putting their personal safety at risk from walking dangerous paths alone, collecting from unsafe water deposits, and can sustain lifelong injuries from carrying full containers.

Businesses, NGOs and governments must work together to put women and safely managed water access at the heart of their operations. Billions of people, especially women, are denied this fundamental human right and are held back from fulfilling their potential due to the lack of access to clean water and sanitation.

Whether you are a drinks producer or not, it is time to do business differently.

Investing in access to clean water is an investment in resilience and the empowerment of women and girls. It provides women with leadership opportunities and representation within their communities.

These same communities are often on the frontline of climate change, facing water scarcity. And we know first-hand that access to clean water resources mitigates climate-induced shocks that can ruin livelihoods.

When you build community resilience, you also build business resilience: more water is available for crop production, more individuals are available to work across your supply chain, and people are less susceptible to disease. With greater levels of employment, incomes are higher and more sustainable, bringing more choice and opportunities for communities.

Join us in signing the UN’s Open Call for Water Action, and demonstrate your commitment to empowering women, building community resilience, and investing in the new generation of leaders.

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