Giving Compass' Take:

• Kathryn Karol of the Caterpillar Foundation explains why access to clean water is a necessary prerequisite for the empowerment of women and girls in rural areas across the globe.

• How can women's rights advocates and clean water advocates pool their knowledge and resources given the information that their efforts are necessarily linked?

• Learn how one clean water initiative is empowering women in Cape Town.

Education, health, employment and time all share a common thread you may not expect: women. For many people, especially women and girls, these four areas represent opportunities lost when one vital resource is absent: water.

For more than 844 million people worldwide, or one in every nine people on Earth, access to clean and safe water is still out of reach. The majority of these people live in rural areas and have to walk for hours to collect water for themselves and their families. And the burden of gathering water for households falls disproportionately on women and girls. In sub-Saharan Africa, women are responsible for 72 percent of the water collected and walk for miles each day to haul 40–80lb (18–36kg) of water home – sometimes repeating this journey several times a day. In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water – time that could instead be used to go to school, run a business or improve their households.

In addition, the water collected is often filled with disease-causing pathogens that cause conditions such as giardiasis, cholera and schistosomiasis. These illnesses can last for weeks or sometimes months, forcing people to lose valuable time at school or work. As primary caregivers, women are also impacted by sickness due to unsafe water – time spent caring for ill children or other family members may be time spent away from income-generating activities.

Read the full article about clean water by Kathryn Karol at News Deeply