Ecumenical Water Network

The EWN is a network of churches and Christian organizations promoting people's access to water around the world

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Week 4: Women, water, violence

The biblical stories of women at wells speak of hope and conversion. Rebekah demonstrates her kindness and generosity to Abraham’s servant and becomes the wife of Isaac. The Samaritan woman discovers the source of living water when Jesus defies all social conventions of the time and approaches her. Yet these positive experiences stand in sharp contrast to the every-day reality of many women and girls around the world.

Women and girls are particularly affected where clean water and safe sanitation are lacking. They are often responsible for fetching water, an exhausting task which deprives them of time and energy they could use to earn an income or go to school. The lack of clean water and sanitation is sorely felt by women and girls, for example during menstruation. It also puts them at risk of becoming victims of violence. Many women and girls face sexual harassment and rape when fetching water or when they have to go outside for lack of toilets in their homes. The burden of fetching water can aggravate domestic violence when women cannot cope with all the chores their husbands expect them to take on.

Biblical reflection: Water the source of life – and not of violence

Rev. Dr Priscille Djomhoue, professor at the Protestant University of Central Africa in Cameroon, explores biblical narratives of women’s experiences at the well. Read more...

Background resources:

Amnesty International has documented the situation of women in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in the world, where women live under constant threat of violence. Read more...

What you can do:

Support Amnesty International’s call on the Kenyan government to enforce landlords’ obligations to construct toilets and bathrooms in the slums and settlements of Nairobi. Read more...