For Immediate Release
Impacts of Water Privatization on Women Highlighted in New Report
Submission to UN calls for gender-based analysis
OTTAWA - This International Women's Day a new report is drawing attention to the
impacts of water privatization on women. The report, Women & Water
in Canada: The Significance of Privatization and Commercialization
Trends for Women's Health, is being submitted today to the UN's Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Independent Expert on
the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe
drinking water and sanitation.
Women & Water in Canada highlights a range of negative impacts of
water privatization on women, including price increases, higher
disconnection rates, declining water quality and loss of oversight. The
report was prepared for the National Network on Environments and
Women's Health with the involvement of: the Council of Canadians,
Women and Health Care Reform, and the Prairie Women's Health Centre of
"Access to clean, safe drinking water is a central determinant of
health in Canada, as it is all over the world. As the primary
caretakers of health, women are doubly affected by decisions about
water governance," says Anne Rochon Ford, Co-Director, National Network
on Environments and Women's Health. "In most parts of the world, women
are the majority of water providers for their families and are
responsible for obtaining safe drinking water for their families. They
therefore suffer more when ‘a price is put on water'."
The Council of Canadians hopes the report will inform the Canadian
government's actions when it comes to promoting public water services
at home and abroad.
"Stephen Harper has claimed that his G8 "priority" is women and
maternal health, yet his government continues to undermine
international efforts to recognize water as a human right," says Meera
Karunananthan, national water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
"If the Harper government is genuinely interested in protecting women
and maternal health it will stop blocking the right to water at the UN,
stop promoting privatization, and take immediate steps to implement a
national water policy."
Issues examined in the report include: the motivations behind the push
towards privatization and the commercialization of water; the debates
over whether water should be privatized, or whether it should be held
in common as an essential human resource that no corporation can or
should own; the different types of water management models; examples of
water privatization initiatives globally and their consequences;
specific experiences of and threats of privatization within Canada; and
the specific gendered health risks associated with water privatization,
especially those affecting Aboriginal women.