We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip main navigation

Differences in Gender Roles Related to Water

In this video Dr. Glenn Patterson and Dr. Melinda Laituri explore the differences in gender roles related to water.
5.3
With 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.
48.1
So 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.
81.8
Now 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.
116.4
So 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.
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.
This article is from the free online

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

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education