The S Word: Putting the Human Rights to Sanitation and Water at the Forefront of Sustainable Development for Women’s Empowerment

Tue Mar 22, 2016 -
10:30am to 12:00pm
UN Church Center
777 United Nations Plaza (at the corner of 44th Street and 1st Ave),
Chapel (1st Floor)
New York City, NY 10017
United States

March 22nd is World Water Day; the White House is also organizing a Water Summit on this day. The US Human Rights Network and partners are organizing this UN Commission on the Status of Women side event panel to serve as an Alternative People’s Water Summit, to ensure the voices of those directly impacted and working on the ground as advocates on the human rights to water and sanitation are headed and heard!

Water is essential to human survival. Yet, nearly 800 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation. By 2050, 40% of the world’s population will live in water stressed countries.  The water targets are the least on-track of all the 2000 UN Millennium Development Goals. Unregulated pollution and contamination, over–extraction of water, unwieldy urban demand, and climate change put even more pressure on these resources. In December 2015, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed the human rights to water and sanitation, and recognized that these rights are related but distinct. 
Women and girls in many cases bear the brunt of this global water and sanitation crisis. It often falls to them to collect water from further and further away, or to provide care to family members who fall ill from poor water or sanitation conditions. Open defection can increase risks of sexual violence. Inability to manage menstruation with dignity can create barriers to education or to work. Water shutoffs also place mothers at risk of losing custody of their children, and contaminated water has particularly serious risks for pregnant and nursing women.
The global North as well as the global South is being impacted by deprivation of these rights -  high water rates and growing poverty, leads to water cut-offs and the criminalization of people, especially women, due to lack of access to water and sanitation. 
This panel will address the global nature of the sanitation and water crisis and look at how the issues of availability, quality, physical accessibility, affordability, and access to information can undermine women and girls’ human rights to water and sanitation and impact their enjoyment of other rights, including the realization of gender equality. The panel will also look at intersectionality between race, ethnicity, disability, refugee status, indigenous, sexual orientation and gender identity, economic status, and gender in abuses related to the rights to water and sanitation. 

  1. US Human Rights Network, USHRN National Coalition on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation
  2. Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE)
  3. Food & Water Watch
  4. Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
  5. Human Rights Watch
  6. International Human Rights Clinic, Santa Clara University School of Law
  7. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  8. WaterAid

Speakers include:

  • Ejim Dike, Executive Director, US Human Rights Network [moderator]
  • Kendall Jackman, Co-founder, Bronx Organizers Collective
  • Bernice Johnson, Field Coordinator, Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
  • Monica Lewis-Patrick, Co-Founder, We the People Detroit
  • Juliana Nnoko-Mewanu, Researcher Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
  • Juani Olivares, Chair, Genesee County Hispanic/Latino Collaborative Flint
  • Marcela Olivera, Latin America Coordinator, Food & Water Watch Bolivia & Red VIDA
  • Sarina Prabasi, CEO, WaterAid

RSVP to rlandy[at]

Watch the recording of the event here

Join the conversation #WaterIsAHumanRight #WorldWaterDay #HRTWS #CSW60 #WaterIs @UN_Water

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