Today is the international day of the girl, a day of celebration and activism described as not just a day, but a movement “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
It has been a tough week for women across the nation and in Central America. Dr. Blasey Ford delivered a heartbreaking testimony about her assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Even though her testimony was deemed credible, Kavanaugh received a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. Families across Central America have dealt with a drought for months and now El Salvador is in the midst of heavy rain that has left 10 people injured and 2 dead. Climatic events like these significantly contribute to women’s food insecurity.
But we are hopeful and celebrate the power of girls to create a different world, where they can lead, live free of violence and have the opportunity to thrive. Girls who have access to education and opportunity become stewards for their communities, and even find solutions to climate change impacts. We believe women will change the landscape of politics and become thought leaders on climate solutions. We know this is possible because our partners have shown us that when women lead, movements are more effective. In El Salvador, women are leading the fight against the privatization of water, are becoming citizen scientists to restore and preserve mangroves, and tortugueras to protect endangered turtles. After education, the success of Salvadoran women largely depends on their right to access clean, affordable water for their families.
We know that investment in women’s leadership is essential because responsibilities around water are largely borne by women. As managers of their households, women are expected to provide access to water for their families for home maintenance, cooking, cleaning, laundry and, most importantly, for personal hygiene. The time-consuming task of fetching water sometimes falls on girls, jeopardizing their access to education.
Since our founding, EcoViva has invested in community leaders who advocate for the preservation of and access to clean water sources. We also work with our local partners the Mangrove Association, Engineers Without Borders, Rotary International, and Episcopal Relief and Development, to help communities access clean, reliable sources of drinking water because we know that this investment improves the quality of life for women and girls, and reduces infant mortality. Our strategy has been to concentrate access to water in the isolated regions in the Lower Lempa. The area has limited infrastructure: roads, electricity, schools, clinics and water systems are all scarce. As a result of our efforts, over 14,000 people now have access to clean drinking water. These water systems were built through the concerted labor of local residents working with EcoViva volunteers. We will continue our work to expand water systems to the most remote village areas.
Despite our deep investment in the region, thousands of residents in the communities surrounding the Bay of Jiquilisco still lack access to reliable sources of clean water. Our work continues and we have an opportunity to create a bigger impact over the next few years. While the Salvadoran government seeks to make access more difficult by attempting to privatize water, people have taken to the streets in protest. Our partners continue to organize, march and rally to defend their rights to access clean water. We know what’s possible: improving the life trajectory of hundreds of girls in the Lower Lempa because water is accessible and clean.We hope the government realizes how much is at stake, before it’s too late.
This International Day of the Girl, consider making a donation to EcoViva. Your gift will increase access to clean water for girls, support the leadership of women in the fight against the privatization of water in El Salvador, and grow the movement for a healthy ecosystem and a fair economy.