Fetching water holds back Indian women from earning, hinders economic growth: Report

'If the time spent by these women to fetch water is spent in paid jobs, they can become financially independent and help boost Indian economy,' the report said.
Last Updated : 09 July 2024, 10:29 IST

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As India swelters, one of the many problems that women face during summers is walking for miles each day to fetch water for their households.

Fetching water is one of the chores that millions of women in India do; however, this is holding them back and hampering economic growth.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF states that in "seven out of 10 households, women and girls are responsible for water collection."

BBC spoke to some women from Maharashtra who fetch water daily. Their stories indicate that the duty of fetching water is straining for them in many ways.

Sunita Bhurbade from Maharashtra's Tringalwadi called it a "daily struggle". Sunita has a routine of travelling for 4 to 5 hours to fetch water from the nearest lake. The water, she said, is dirty, due to which she has to "dig holes on the side for the water to filter through."

"I get so tired that I collapse when I’m done," she noted.

With this strenous task, these women find it hard to indulge in paid jobs.

"If I go after water, I have to sacrifice my livelihood. If I try to earn a wage, my family stays thirsty," she told BBC.

Professor Ashwini Deshpande from Ashoka University, Delhi believes that due to the household chores that women have to do, they cannot take up jobs.

"First, women can’t take up paid work because they have to do all the household chores and secondly, even if they wish to find some work after doing their daily chores, there are not enough paid jobs for women in rural India," she told the publication.

A 2023 analysis done by SBI's Ecowrap reports that "the total contribution of unpaid women to the economy is around Rs 22.7 lakh crore (Rural: Rs 14.7 lakh crore and Urban: Rs 8.0 lakh crore) which is almost 7.5 per cent of the India’s GDP."

In January this year, government released the data on rural households that have tap water supply at their homes. As of February 2024, "out of 19.27 Crore rural households in the country, more than 14.24 Crore (73.93 per cent) households are reported to have tap water supply in their homes," the report read.

Citing experts, BBC reported that if the time spent by these women to fetch water is spent in paid jobs, they can become financially independent and help boost the Indian economy.

Published 09 July 2024, 10:29 IST

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