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Women and Water: Who Keeps India Alive? (An Online Photo Exhibition)

September 12, 2010

Click on this montage to see the photo exhibition

Click on the poster to connect to the photo exhibition

Water is Life! A person will die without water in about 3-5 days.

Now consider this.   Of India’s 35 states, only 7 have drinking water available for all their rural inhabitants.  And at least 300 million people in rural India have no direct  source of drinking water in their homes. So where do they get their water from?

It has to be fetched from wells, ponds and rivers.  This back-breaking task is done entirely by girls and women in India. Not by men or boys.

The women have to walk long distances to get to the water source, and then lug home the heavy pots on their heads.  One trip is never enough, so they must make many trips, barefoot across rough terrain. There are parts of India, where the climate is dry and water is scarce, and women spend 6 hours a day fetching drinking water for their homes.  And this is a job that does not let up for even a day.  Families need drinking water every day!

But drinking water is only the basic water need of a family.  Children have to be bathed.  Dishes have to be washed.  And there is laundry to be done.  So besides fetching drinking water, the women also lug their dishes and bags of laundry to the ponds or rivers – to do their mandatory household jobs.

The urban picture is not much rosier.  40 million people living in slums across India do not have running water in their homes. Again it is women in the slums who have to fetch water for their families by lining up at public taps with their buckets, which they then haul home. These women often have to wait hours in line for water because there are very few taps in every slum.  And water is not available round the clock.  The municipality releases the water in these taps only twice a day, at certain times.  In southwest Delhi‘s Mangla Puri slums which have more than 2000 residents, there are only two municipal taps.

The irony here is this:  That section of society, girls and women, that labors for hours every day, delivering water, keeping India alive, is the very section that is being annihilated by India!

So we present for you here an on-line photo exhibition from created from the contributions of the 2600 photographers who are supporters of  the 50 Million Missing Photographers’ Group on Flickr. The photos here are colorful and wonderfully composed from a photographic viewpoint, and so it would be easy to romanticize them as vignettes of an exotic India.  But as you browse through this exhibition please keep in mind the information we’ve provided here in this post.


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 9:26 am

    A probe to the moon. High profile sports events. Media fascination with how many Indians are on the Forbes rich list. A 1.5-plus billion dollar arms deal to buy planes from the UK, etc, etc, etc. Apparently this is all ‘good for the country’. But we know what that really means. Priorities lie elsewhere.

    • September 21, 2010 10:13 am

      That’ right Colin. But the other point that we are trying to make is with regards to the general assumption that one of the reasons for female genocide is that girls are viewed as not “useful” or “productive” (and so families don’t want daughters.) Or that without education and jobs — women in India are “powerless.” What we plan to show through a series of postings is that it is women in fact who are basically bearing the primary responsibility of the sustenance of their families and communities, economically and otherwise. Of course, education, literacy, jobs etc. are a must for women for their personal empowerment. However, the reasoning given for why they are being killed — in terms of their being social and economic burdens, does not hold up.

  2. September 12, 2010 11:20 am

    Maybe also interesting for you to see:
    http://mirjamletsch.photoshelter.com/gallery/WATER-SANITATION/G0000JoibtuRrBls/

    Thanks for sharing this post.
    Mirjam

  3. Neil Pharr permalink
    September 28, 2010 6:41 pm

    I often say that society is like a bird with two equal wings – one female and one male. Social equality means two healthy wings so the society can fly in the sky. After reading this on women and water carriers, I think of this poor sick society, keep alive only by the efforts of women carring water to their thirsty and dying bird.

    Neil (Atlanta)

  4. Carroll Beachler permalink
    October 15, 2010 2:07 pm

    I am suscribing to your rss feed, it is worth.

  5. Pha333 permalink
    October 23, 2010 11:48 pm

    interesting site!

  6. doname permalink
    November 4, 2010 4:03 am

    Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look simple.

  7. Lumbarda permalink
    November 5, 2010 5:57 am

    That is exactly how i feel about it.

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