In parts of the world that lack indoor plumbing or easy access to clean water, it’s often the woman’s job to find usable water for her family.
wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water, a new, free, publication started by two recent Penn graduates, aims to spread the word about the role women around the world play in accessing sustainable and sanitary water, and how that critical task affects them and their communities.
Caroline D’Angelo GSAS ‘12 and Dakota Dobyns GSAS ’12 created the journal as the capstone project for their Master of Environmental Studies degrees. The first issue was published in April.
“The gender impact is widely known in the field, but not outside the field,” D’Angelo says. “Two hundred million hours a day are spent by women worldwide gathering water. This is time that could be spent in school, at a job, or reading.”
D’Angelo and Dobyns were inspired to create the journal after a 2011 research trip to Sri Lanka and India to work on water and sanitation projects led by the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative.
“Without adequate sanitation, the drinking water gets affected, and women are forced to stay home and take care of a sick family member, and they themselves could get sick,” says D’Angelo. “It’s basically a burden that’s carried by women as family caretakers around the world.”
The journal features articles by international writers on issues such as recent innovations that have made it easier and safer to get clean water to people who need it. For example, cell phone technology is now improving the way data about water availability in certain regions can be shared. Also, in many areas women can now use specially designed backpacks to carry water, instead of balancing heavy containers of water on their heads.
Other stories in the journal address the impact of climate change, the lack of sanitary water on women’s reproductive health, and the role transnational organizations play in water sanitation issues. One essay, written by PennDesign’s Eugenie Birch, Penn Nursing Dean Afaf Meleis, and Wharton’s Susan Wachter, details how urbanization in some communities is reversing progress made in improving water access.
The journal is available online at www.wh2ojournal.com.
Originally published on June 28, 2012