200 million hours spent by women and girls fetching water every day


UN New York - On the occasion of the World Water Day and the UN Water Conference, MMM highlights the impact of the lack of access to safe and clean water on women's unpaid care work. This is a key barrier to the realization of their rights, in particular the right to work and the right to participate in public life. We call for Gender disaggregated Time-Use data to be collected and used when planning and developing water infrastructure, so that it results in a reduction of the drudgery work of fetching water.

The following is the statement we delivered during the Stakeholder Consultation that was held in October 2022 as part of the preparatory process for the UN Water Conference taking place 22-24 March 2023. 

According to UNICEF, women and girls collectively spend 200 million hours fetching water every single day – far more than men and boys.

Collecting water is tedious and it adds to the unpaid domestic and care work whose inequitable distribution is at the root of Gender inequalities. For women and girls, the opportunity costs of collecting water are high, with far reaching effects:

  • For girls, it means less time spent at school or dropping out of school altogether – at the expense of their future prospects
  • For women, in particular when they are mothers, it means less time for income generating activities, which increases their vulnerability to poverty and violence

Gender disaggregated Time-Use data is critically important to develop public water infrastructure and services that will reduce the time and efforts that women and girls put into this strenuous and unpaid work.

Time-Use data already underlies target 5.4. of the UN 2030 development agenda, and Member States have committed to ‘Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services and infrastructure‘.

Unfortunately Time-Use Surveys are seen as complex and expensive, and according to the ILO, only 72 countries have conducted such surveys at least once, with only 27 of those having done so at least twice.

We therefore urge Member States to assess Gender disaggregated Time-Use when investing in water infrastructure and to explicitly aim efforts at reducing the time that women and girls spend in collecting water.

More generally, we are calling on Member States to prioritize target 5.4 and invest in Time-Use Surveys as these are very relevant to several SDGs: not only SDG 6 (water and sanitation) and SDG 5 (gender equality), but also SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 3 (health), SDG 4 (education), SDG 7 (energy), SDG 8 (decent work), SDG 9 (infrastructure), SDG 10 (inequality), and SDG 13 (Climate change).

MMM statement for download


Most read articles

In this together: Share the Care, Transform Tomorrow


UN New York, HLPF - Join us on July 11th for a discussion on how #SharingTheCare at every level - family, community, governments and private sector - is vital for

Lire plus

Making the case for Gender Equal Parenting: Vital for Early Childhood Development and a transformative tomorrow


At MMM, we believe that sharing the invisible work of caring and educating children more equitably is a quadruple win: essential for early child development (ECD), beneficial for both men

Lire plus

Leave no single mother Behind: solutions from across the world


UN New York, CSocD61 - The virtual event we are organizing as part of the 2023 UN Commission on Social Development will draw attention to the specificity of the situation

Lire plus
See all the articlesof the category

Latest News from MMM and its Network

Pathways to a transformative recovery centered on Care


UN New York - Ahead of the upcoming 2023 High Level Political Forum (HLPF), MMM's written statement provides 2 concrete policymaking avenues to address the issue of unpaid care work and accelerate progress on G

Read more

A right to care to foster quality non-formal education


UN New York - Our oral statement to the UN Commission on Population Development calls for for the recognition of the importance of non formal education, which mostly takes place within families. It includes the

Read more

Global support for recognition of ‘Care as a Right’ gains momentum – MMM teams look back at CSW 2023


UN New York - This year’s priority theme of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was ‘Innovation, technological change, education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerme

Read more

Women at the peace table: international Conference


Make Mothers Matter, together with the city of Ypres, and its grass roots partners Mothers for Peace, Mama Kivu and the Vrouwenraad, is organizing an international peace Conference Women at the Peace Table, whi

Read more

268 years to close the economic gender gap? It is time to consider CARE as a human right


Care is at the heart of our advocacy work here at MMM, so we were delighted to have the opportunity to put forward our thoughts in this op-ed featured on the OECD Forum Network website.

Read more

Unpaid care work is not a burden


UN Geneva - In recent years, MMM has strongly advocated for eliminating the use of the word ‘Burden’ in association with unpaid care work. Many people have talked and written about the ‘burden of unpaid c

Read more