The concept of International Women’s Day was born during the turbulent 1900’s, as a way for women around the world to celebrate their solidarity while pushing for social change. Initially scattered over different dates in different countries, this Friday marks the hundredth year that International Women’s Day has been globally observed on the 8th of March.
Throughout the rich history of this tradition, the world has changed significantly for women. Thanks to the tireless campaigning of devoted women (and men), the right to vote and work has been granted to millions of women around the world, and many other gender inequalities have shifted. But there is still a long way to go before all women are able to enjoy a life free of discrimination.
One issue in the developing world that still weighs heavily on the shoulders of women is the unavailability of the most basic necessity: clean water. In many developing countries, clean water is a scarce and valuable resource. Villages often lack the necessary infrastructure to transport and filter water, and so the task is left to residents, (usually women and children), to source and transport water.
Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.
WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2010). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2010 Update.
The arduous responsibility of fetching water, often from many kilometres away, also exposes women to the risk of harassment, sexual assault and spinal damage. Combined with poor toiletry and sanitation systems, the water issue contributes to millions of women in the developing world becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
This May there is an opportunity to ‘sit’ in solidarity through a global meditation campaign that helps to build clean water wells in the developing world. This campaign is called Mindful In May.
Proceeds raised during the Mindful In May campaign are donated to Charity: Water, an organization aiming to make it possible for everybody in the world to drink clean water. Charity: Water develops water technology solutions including wells, filters and rainwater catchments. In 2012, the Mindful In May campaign in partnership with Charity: Water contributed to the building of five wells in Ethiopia; enough to provide clean water to over 1000 people.
Freeing women from the burdensome task of carrying water for hours each day is a step towards women achieving further equality, liberation and quality of life on a global scale. This International Women’s Day, consider signing up for Mindful In May. Not only will you enjoy the myriad of health benefits associated with practicing mindfulness; you will also help to make the world a better place for all women.
By Meegan Waugh
Hashtag: #womensday #mim13 #mindfulness