by SI President-Elect, Mariet Verhoef-Cohen
“World Water Day is held annually on 22 March to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to campaign for the sustainable management of water resources.
The ever-increasing world population and the rapid spread of industrialization are resulting in a higher demand for the already dwindling supplies of water. To help conserve this precious commodity, World Water Day raises awareness of various complex water issues and highlights a specific aspect of water each year.
In 2015 the focal point of the World Water Day was Water and Sustainable Development. Last year’s Water and Jobs theme stimulated many Soroptimists to take action. In 2018 we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of World Water Day with the theme Nature-Based Solutions for Water. For 2017, the theme is Wastewater. Although it may not sound very inspiring, this aspect of water is in fact very important for all of us.
SDG 6.3 says: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. Women and girls can play a key role in these efforts through Education, Empowerment and Enabling.
A growing number of contaminants such as heavy metals, dyes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and detergents are entering water supplies from industrialization, agriculture and human activity. In many countries, a large portion of the water used for households, agriculture, industry, etc. ends up untreated in the ground water. Water contamination can cause ear, nose, throat infections, diarrhoea and more severe disorders in young children. Many people around the world still do not adequately understand safe water awareness. We should realize that untreated wastewater impacts us all and that is why major investments are needed in research and wastewater treatment.
Due to the fact that escalating water scarcity and population growth are making water an increasingly precious resource, wastewater should be more recognized in the overall water cycle as one of the greatest untapped opportunities to promote sustainable development. And water reuse is also crucial to reducing the pressure on our water resources and the environment.
Therefore, on World Water Day this year, let us be cognizant of all aspects of water. Soroptimists can raise awareness of the global wastewater challenge in their respective communities and beyond. One concrete step is to encourage women and girls to pursue studies and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and non-traditional professions so that they can be part of the decision-making process in resolving the world’s pressing environmental problems, especially in the water sector. To secure the future for coming generations, we Soroptimists must educate ourselves as well as our families and friends about the significance of wastewater and water in general.
Have a wonderful, inspiring and instructive World Water Day 2017.”
UN World Water Day Resource: fact_sheet_WWD2017_EN.