Managing water by giving power to women, Legarda throws a challenge to world leaders

March 22, 2023

As Women’s Month closes, world leaders will meet in New York City, USA for a mid-term assessment of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028).

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda emphasized that both water and women’s issues weave through the interrelated global crises that the world faces today – climate change, biodiversity loss, and degradation of land and water.

“We have been trying to solve water supply and sanitation issues as macro concerns instead of looking at water management at home and the bigger issue through the lens of the smaller one. Because of this, we have been solving the water crisis blind to the power of women to contribute and take power while they reduce the burdens they carry on water issues,” Legarda stated.

Of 109 million people, 57 million or over half lack access to a reliable, safely managed source of water. Forty-three million people, nearly 40%, lack access to safely managed household sanitation facilities.

Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in the Philippines, emphasizes the importance of investing in sanitation because inaction will have a greater cost.

“Untreated waste from poor sanitation services has negative effects on the environment and can spread diseases that cause poor health and nutrition, loss of income, decreased productivity, and missed educational opportunities,” he said.

The irony is that the poor pay so much more for water they buy than the ones that have connections and get theirs on the tap at home. So, lack of water affects all aspects of the life of a family who has to pinch pennies to afford this most valuable commodity.

Legarda challenged leaders and policymakers to think about who bears these problems in the family the most. She also points out that if given the opportunity and resources, the same bearer of this problem should be given the chance to be part of the solution, with the power to influence policy and access.

“Women are repeatedly told not to rock the boat. How can we not rock it when we have been pushed overboard and desperately swim in the waves to keep the boat afloat? The same boat steered mostly by men is ridden with holes and taking in water,” she said.

“I declare that it is time we see the water crisis and go into the conference in New York with the eyes of mothers, daughters, and girls. I call on the men and women gathered there to channel all women and approach these interwoven issues like the world is a household, and we have to protect our assets and ensure that we all survive and thrive,” Legarda furthered. (end)