Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to attend this very timely discussion on the role of women in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 and ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Water scarcity affects every continent. The lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities affects women and girls most acutely.
Ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all is crucial to promote equal opportunities and combat discrimination of women and girls.
Women and girls often face particular barriers in accessing water and sanitation and shoulder the main burden of collecting household water in many parts of the world. Women and girls are among the main suppliers of water in more than 70% of those households where access to water is difficult or scarce. In many circumstance, to support their families in this vital role they play, they have to make sacrifices in relation to their education or employment opportunities.
Social protection, education, adequate health care, nutrition, full access to clean water, including safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, skills development and combating discrimination and violence against girls are all necessary elements for the empowerment of the girl child.
Many of our development partners are in Sub Saharan Africa, where it is estimated that women spend 40 billion hours a year just to supply water, which is often contaminated and not up to drinking standard.
In rural Africa, women spend as much as 26% of their time supplying water and on average it takes them around 5 kilometers to reach the closest water source. During dry seasons, this distance easily doubles. Such journeys, often in remote areas and also during the night-time, exposes them to higher risks of violence and sexual harassment, not to mention the health risks of carrying up to 20 liters of water for long distances, from a very young age.
Back in 2009, during Italy’s G8 Presidency, we had emphasized the importance of an inclusive and multi-stakeholder approach to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation. And for the first time, at the G8 Summit hosted by Italy, representatives from developing countries issued a joint statement with the G8 expressing their determination to build a stronger partnership to increase access to water and sanitation, leveraging on joint and coordinated efforts.
Italy remains fully committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure global ownership and partnerships on a theme – that of water and the crucial link with women – that clearly illustrates and brings out the “universal” nature of the Agenda 2030; and we will continue to support important development programs with our partner countries, having also recently elaborated Guidelines for our development activities specifically on water (July 2015), with an important emphasis also on the fundamental role of women.
Access to water is closely linked to other global challenges such as agriculture and food security, climate change, education, the growing demand for energy. Women play a crucial role here too. Italy strongly supports an integrated approach to access to water resources which fully takes into account the needs of women and girls.
If women are instrumental to achieve access to safe drinking water, collection of gender-disaggregated water indicators is of the utmost importance. Strengthening statistical capacity, data production and analysis through innovative methodologies, in line with the Agenda 2030, is essential to measure the progress we want to see on the ground. The work of the World Water Assessment Programme in this field is very important.
I wish you a fruitful discussion on how to enhance gender-sensitive water statistics and methodology in order to effectively achieve access to water and sanitation for all.