March 8, 2013, is International Women’s Day, a day that has been observed since the early 1900s. Gender is an important issue in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In most societies women have the primary responsibility for managing the household water supply, sanitation, and health.
Water is necessary not only for drinking, but also for food production and preparation, care of domestic animals, personal hygiene, care of the sick, cleaning, washing, and waste disposal. A UN policy paper explains that because of their dependence on water, women have accumulated considerable knowledge about water resources, including location, quality, and storage methods. Despite this, women’s central role in water management is often overlooked.