WaterAid Joins USAID and Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance to Improve Well-Being of Women in India’s Apparel Industry

NEW YORK, Aug. 6, 2019 — WaterAid has joined the USAID and Gap Inc. Women + Water Global Development Alliance (W+W Alliance) as an implementing partner. Launched in 2017, the five-year program aims to improve and sustain the health and well-being of women and communities in India touched by the apparel industry. WaterAid will complement the work of existing partners, including CARE, Water.org, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities and will focus on ensuring continuous access to clean drinking water. 

Women dance in Madhya Pradesh, India. (WaterAid/ Eliza Powell)
Women dance in Madhya Pradesh, India. (WaterAid/ Eliza Powell)

“We’re pleased to welcome WaterAid to the W+W Alliance to lend its proven expertise engaging and empowering community leaders to build accountability with local government. WaterAid will help the W+W Alliance improve regional water security by significantly expanding the role of women and youth in community decision-making and water resource management,” said Melissa Fifield, Senior Director, Global Sustainability, Gap Inc. 

Around the world, the apparel industry provides critical economic opportunities for women, who make up approximately 80 percent of garment workers. However, the industry is also one of the most intensive users of water. Many of the countries where apparel is sourced face significant challenges in meeting the health, economic and natural resource management needs of their populations. 

Through the W+W Alliance, USAID and Gap Inc. seek to ensure the sustained and scalable impact of water, sanitation and hygiene programming and the advancement of women. 

Ella Lazarte, Sr. Water and Sanitation Advisor at USAID, said, “WaterAid is a great addition to our W+W Alliance work in India, given their strengths in working both at the community and policy levels. We see them as a critical partner in cementing the gains through the W+W’s existing work on women’s empowerment, access to finance and water stewardship.”

In many countries, women shoulder a disproportionate burden for household responsibilities, particularly related to water, sanitation and hygiene. According to UNICEF, women and girls worldwide spend 200 million hours a day collecting water. They also face serious health risks due to inadequate access to safe water and sanitation facilities and poor understanding of healthy hygiene practices. Addressing these issues provides an opportunity to strengthen women’s lives. 

WaterAid will join W+W Alliance members in presenting a panel at World Water Week in Stockholm. Held on Aug. 28, 2019, “The Power of Catalyzing Women’s Leadership to Advance WASH Adoption,” will present key success stories and findings from the W+W Alliance’s work to date and discuss the challenges women in India face in accessing clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and what the W+W Alliance’s innovative model is doing to address these needs. 

“We are proud to join the Women + Water Alliance,” says WaterAid’s U.S. CEO, Sarina Prabasi. “WaterAid brings more than 35 years of experience promoting access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in need, and we look forward to working with the W+W Alliance partners to empower communities to manage their drinking water for the long term.” 

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