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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsWith us to talk about gender issues and water is Dr. Melinda Laituri, Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, and Director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU. Dr. Laituri, why do so many cultures have a tradition that the responsibility for fetching water falls disproportionately on women and girls? I think the first thing to think about when we ask that question is to understand that women are the managers at the household level in many developing countries. So they are the ones that have to make decisions about the household, what needs there are, where you go to get things, and making sure that there's adequate food and water supplies for the family that they're raising.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsSo I think that's one of the key reasons why we see women and girls doing this. I think the other reason is the role of culture, the importance of culture in traditional societies where there are very traditional roles between men and women. And because of that, that means that these are reinforced over time when women have girls. If their babies are girls, their girls are trained in a very particular way. And so this facilitates this continued kind of practice. How widespread in the world is this tradition? It's really widespread.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsNow I don't have any figures on this, but I was looking at this nice fact sheet that I found online-- I can provide a link to this-- that are 22 facts about women and water. And what it explains to us is that, for example, in African countries women are five times more likely than men to collect drinking water for households. On the average, women and girls travel 3.7 miles per day collecting water and carrying up to five gallons per trip. Globally, women and girls are the primary water collectors for their families.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 secondsSo this is well-established fact and something that I think is important to think about as we look at water supplies and how water infrastructure is changing throughout the world.

Differences in Gender Roles Related to Water

Why do so many cultures have a tradition that the responsibility for fetching water falls on women and girls? Post your thoughts in the comments and take a moment to see what other learners are saying and respond to any other comments that resonate with you.

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This video is from the free online course:

Water for the People: Gender, Human Rights, and Diplomacy

Colorado State University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

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