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06 March 2020

It's International Women's Day - Let's Build a Well!

Safa Faruqui
It's International Women's Day - Let's Build a Well!

It's International Women's Day again! This year's theme is 'Each for Equal' - encouraging each and every one of us to do our part to build a gender-equal world. Whether this is by raising awareness on social media or ensuring our workplaces treat everyone fairly, let's work together to end gender discrimination!

If you want to use your Zakat and Sadaqah to help women in need worldwide, we have plenty of projects for you to choose from! In this particular blog post, we want to focus on how giving water can transform women's lives.

Lack of access to water disproportionately affects women. In many communities, women are responsible for collecting the water their family needs on a daily basis. This includes making long, difficult, dangerous journeys to collect water, often waiting in line before dawn or late at night to secure enough water for their families. 

On a single day, women and girls around the world spend a collective 200 million hours collecting water. That figure is simply staggering. 200 million hours is over 22,800 years. How much could these women and girls achieve in that time? How many opportunities are they losing in those 200 million hours? They could be spending this time caring for their families, working, or going to school. Instead, they are wasting their time and energy to achieve the basic human right of clean water.

Batamo and Alou: A Story from Mali

Let's take a look at Batamo and Alou's story to see how accessible water can transform a woman's life.

Batamo is a 26-year old mother, living in Taliko, a village 17km from Bamako, the capital of Mali. Her daughter, Alou, is only 10 years old. When a generous donor constructed a water well in their village in Ramadan 2018, it instantly improved their lives.

Batamo and Alou used to spend hours every day walking two kilometres to collect water from a mountain stream, and then carrying the water down to their village. There was never a convenient time to do this. If they made this long journey during the day, Alou had to miss school. At aged 10, Alou was already falling behind at school, and she didn't have the time to build the foundation that would help her in further education and her later life.

Batamo felt that she was neglecting her duties as a mother by taking Alou away from school. She would often collect water at night instead, leaving her children and husband at home after dinner to walk into the mountains. This meant she could avoid the long queues at the stream, but at the cost of her own sleep and the time she could spend with her family. She virtually did not see her husband, as he had to leave the house early in the morning for his work as a labourer in Bamako (17km away).

The water well has transformed Batamo's life in three direct ways:

    • Alou can go to school now, and her grades are improving. Batamo is so grateful that she will never have to ask her two younger children, Zoumana (aged 5) and Farima (aged 3) to miss school so they can help her collect water. Her three children will have the opportunity to attend school every day, paving the way for a brighter future.
    • Batamo has more time to spend with her family. Being apart from her husband and children for so long every day evidently caused her a lot of stress; she began to cry when she told our team that her family life has improved. Spending time with one's family is essential to having a meaningful and happy life - but Batamo was unable to experience this simple pleasure before the well was constructed.
    • Batamo's children are much healthier now that they are only consuming water from a safe well. Clean water and sanitation reduces the spread of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, often saving children's lives.

Water wells don't just reduce immediate suffering; they change women's lives, improving their health, livelihoods, education and relationships. Batamo says, 'Allah saw our suffering and sent us relief through the person who gave this water well. Every day, I thank Him for this water well'. Her life has been transformed forever through this simple gift.

A generous donor just like yourself donated this well, and it is being used daily by 1,500 people. Hundreds of women no longer have to waste their time, risk their safety or deplete their energy collecting water from the mountain stream. The water well is turned on twice a day (to save energy so it is more environmentally friendly) - and every morning and evening, these women can collect safe water right on their doorsteps. It is truly an amazing project and its impact on women's lives cannot be overstated.

#EachforEqual: You Can Help Too!

The Prophet said, 'The people are all the children of Adam and Adam was created from dust. Allah said, "O people, We have created you male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most noble to Allah is the most righteous of you"'. (Tirmidhi)

As Muslims, each and every one of us should strive to create a more equal world. We are all children of Adam (as), yet we live in a world of dramatic inequality, including inequalities between men and women. This International Women's Day, you can join us in creating a fairer world.

There are so many ways you can help! You could sponsor an orphan girl to give her the opportunity to go to school and university. You can help a widow set up a business so she can provide for her family. You can give to our Motherkind clinics to reduce maternal and infant mortality. And of course, you can give a water well to transform the lives of women from disadvantaged communities.

Transform a woman's life today with one of these projects - and remember to share this blog with family, friends and colleagues!

 

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Muslim Hands UK

Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.