More than 2.7 billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Women and girls are disproportionally affected by this crisis; globally they spend a collective 200 million hours every day collecting water and 266 million hours every day finding a place to relieve themselves. An unbelievable 1.25 billion women living in poverty don’t have access to a safe toilet.
Research shows that investments in women have a ripple effect into the world around them. Women are more likely to reinvest into their families and communities increasing health, educational opportunities, and economic security. The World Health Organization estimates that investments in water and sanitation services generate a 430% return through alleviated health burdens and higher productively, especially for women. But charity is just a drop in the bucket to solve this crisis, investment capital is what is needed to close the financing gaps.
Social entrepreneur Gary White and actor Matt Damon joined forces more than a decade ago to address this challenge by founding nonprofit Water.org and later WaterEquity. The two organizations have collectively brought small water and sanitation loans to over 34 million women and men – with transformative results. Through investing in these creative solutions, more capital can be directed towards solving the crisis and improving the lives of countless women and girls.