Women, Water, and Climate
March 22, 2020
Host to both International Women’s Day and World Water Day, it is fitting that the month of March also saw 400 women in Water Management trained to implement new activities as part of our Technology for Sustainable Water Resource Governance Project in Nicaragua.
One of those women is Maritza Sánchez — a woman who, by the accounts of basically everyone who knows her, has dedicated her entire life to serving in the community. She is steadfast in her pursuit of making the inclusion of women in decision-making the norm and not the anomaly.
In addition to being the president of her Community Water Committee, Maritza easily rattles off five more committees, boards, and groups within which she holds a role. Between teaching children adaptation measures to climate change, building family gardens in homes in La Grecia, and attending workshops as part of her role on the Water Committee, she also manages to mother a family of five!
Under the leadership of Maritza, the Community Water Committee was founded in La Grecia in 2019 — a great achievement for the community, after years of walking long distances, riding horses, motorcycles, or carts to carry water to their homes.
“Water was a need that we lacked, so the community selected me to represent them,” says Maritza, while she prepares to undertake a visit to her community’s water system, as she does every afternoon. She admits she has had to overcome barriers, challenges, and stereotypes, but having blazed a trail herself, Maritza now encourages others to action. She is a role model for women who have historically been intimidated to step to the front, to show what they are capable of, and to command respect that is deserved.
Maritza is confident that women will have a major role in implementing progress simply by using the diverse capacities that each possess. She is showing her community that everyone has a role to play, and that there is not just room for, but a need for, all hands on deck when it comes to water advocacy, management, and access.
“Serving is my passion, because you give what you have and not just what you have left over.” – Maritza Sánchez
(Maritza was recently honoured for her community contributions and leadership at a recognition event held by the Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras).
Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places; Floods destroy sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources while droughts exacerbate water scarcity, impacting health and productivity.
Because of social roles worldwide, women are greatly affected by water scarcity and flooding. Women tend to be vulnerable to the impacts of poor water management, yet face barriers to effective participation in governance bodies. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead.
Our Water Project ensures rural women, like Maritza, have a voice in water management and government accountability through the use of citizen science and technology for monitoring, reporting and for water rights advocacy.